He is young, down-to-earth, good-looking and talented all at once. Let us introduce the 23-year-old Aarhus-based Joram Paulo, a blooming Aarhus-based artist creating music under the moniker of JJ. Paulo. Originally, he is hailing from Tanzania in Africa, but after relocating to Silkeborg in Denmark he has experienced both the Tanzanian and Danish culture, which has been the driving force behind his songwriting and music production.
Recently, he released his free-download debut EP ‘NanaLevina’, named after the two mothers in his life; a versatile debut, with tracks capable of fitting perfectly for both melancholic and stressful times, and more up-beat days of happiness. No matter what, his music will definitely make you want to figure out where you left your dancing shoes. The result has been features on both Danish TV and Radio, and on TV and Radio in Tanzania – e.g. a debut on StarTV, which have made his track reach their list of favourites for two months. In other words, a national feature for 2 months in a country with a population of 51 million.
To get to know more about the blooming artist, and dancer, we decided to ask him a couple of question, and introduce himself to Aarhus.
First of all, if you were to describe you and your music to the readers, how would you describe it?
I will describe myself as a confident mama’s boy that takes pride in my culture and heritage. The Danish and the Tanzanian. When I was young, I used to dream about becoming the next Michael Jackson, unfortunately, I couldn’t sing like him, so therefore, I had to make sure I could dance like him. Which I can! Moreover, I would describe myself as very persistent. My music is colorful, melodic and catchy. I call my songs ‘histories’, because my music is inspired by things I’ve experienced. I want to make songs people can relate to. But most importantly, I want my songs to promote the experience of mind wandering. I’ve been through a lot and listening to my songs you’ll get to know my story and me.
If instead you had to describe your sound without the use of genre labels – e.g. through the use of mental images, moods, situations and so on – how would you describe it?
My sound is African, and inspired by traditional Tanzanian sukuma Dance. It is the sound of a cold glass of water in the middle of the Saharan desert. At least I intent to make it refreshing and necessary; make you want to move your entire body. I dare you to listen to “Baba Mufasa” without moving your feet.
Recently, you released your debut EP, ”Nanalevina”. What is the reason behind this title?
NanaLevina is dedicated to my mothers. I say mother in plural, as Levina is my birthmother, and Nana raised me. My father met Nana when he was 24, and later she brought him to Denmark. A few years later, they invited me to come live with them. So in a few years time my mother Nana had a new husband and a new son. Not many people would do what my mother Nana did for me. I am forever grateful to her. My birth mother Levina gave me away because she understood that I would get a better life in Denmark. Not many people would do what my birth mother did. Again I am forever grateful. That is why my EP is titled ‘NanaLevina’. It’s dedicated to the women that saved my life.
In your opinion, what is your favorite track on the new EP?
I produced all the songs myself, so I have a special connection to all of them. However, my favorite song is the title track ‘Nanalevina’. You will understand why after you’ve watched the video on youtube and listened to the lyrics, but my favorite song to perform is ‘Baba Mufasa’. When I perform Baba Mufasa I get to dance like Michael Jackson.
Do you have any special sources of inspiration, both personally and artistically, which have had an impact on your sound and music?
My biggest inspiration is my Tanzanian culture. Since I was 5 years old I’ve danced African dance. My mother was a teacher at Rytmisk Center in Silkeborg and she taught me how to play the piano. When I make my beats today I use a medi keyboard so, without knowing how to play piano, I wouldn’t be able to produce my music myself. I’m inspired everyday, like I said, I write my music from experiences. Sometimes I sit in the bus and I see something happen and boom! I have an idea for a new song.
My song “Baracuda” which is on my EP is inspired by an old classmate I had, that used to be a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan. So anyone and anything can inspire me. I will never make empty music. The reason is simply, that music means so much to me. Music is so powerful; one song can change the way you feel about a situation forever. It can make you sad and it can save your day.
In connection with this, where does your musical interest stem from?
My musical interest stems from my upbringing. My parents made sure that music played a big part in my upbringing. Sometimes I would rather play soccer or PlayStation but today I am happy they made sure music was such a big part of my life from early age. Of course also Michael Jackson.
Do you think or feel, that your music is influenced most from Tanzanian or Danish music?
When it comes to the melody I would say Tanzania. And when it comes to the song writing and lyrics I would say Denmark. In Denmark we really value good song writing, where in Tanzania, I feel that if the beat is catchy it doesn’t matter that the lyrics are shit.
Furthermore, you have been based in Silkeborg, London, and Norway. How did you end up in Aarhus? I was raised in Silkeborg, and used to visit Aarhus a lot. I’ve always liked the city of Aarhus, so when I decided to move back to Denmark, I only looked for a place to live in Aarhus. I love the city, and the music environment in the city.
Previously, I saw, that you were interviewed by local TV station, TV2 Østjylland. Here, you spoke about the concept of money in connection with your track, ”Funny Life”. How do you define wealth as a blooming artist?
I never think about money when it comes to my music. Now, I just want to grow as an artist. Its funny the other day, a guy from nightclub Train in Aarhus asked me how about the cost of a performance. I replied, “Pay me whatever you can afford”. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I would happily play for free everywhere. Performing is my passion, and I can’t put a price on the feeling I get when I perform on a stage.
Finally, what is the future plans and dreams – both short and long term?
Short term, I would like to get out there and play more. I opened my JJ.Paulo facebook page in May, and so far, I have more than 4.000 likes so it’s going okay. I also want my videos on Youtube to get more attention. I’ve had my songs featured and played in radio in Denmark and on national television in Tanzania, but I don’t have as many views on Youtube as I would like. Hopefully, I will get there.
Long term, my dream is to make music my only primary income. Basically to make it possible, that music is my job. I believe it’s a matter of time before that happens – hopefully. Maybe a long time but it will happen at some point. My motto is “ If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else”.