Milwaukee Talks: Paul Amitai
Paul Amitai has long been a part of Milwaukee's music and arts scenes. He was lead singer of the popular ska band The Pacers and has since become one of the city's most adventurous musicians, working alongside the likes of Old Man Malcolm, Jason Todd, members of Recycled Future and others.
He's also an accomplished visual artist and is currently working on a Masters Degree in Fine Arts at UWM. He worked at Marquette's Haggerty Museum, and that's just a small part of his involvement in the local art world.
We recently caught up with Amitai to see what he's been up to. Here's what he had to say.
OMC: Many people remember you as the singer for The Pacers, but you've been very busy since then. Can you bring us up to date on some of your projects, musical and otherwise?
PA: After The Pacers, I went to UWM to study art and film. Art had always been something that was in the house growing up. My mom is an artist, so I was exposed to a lot of things at an early age. I was always drawing ... whenever we went on a family trip, the Magic Markers and drawing pad were sure to be there. Film was something I was always curious about and wanted to learn how it was done.
OMC: What about musically?
PA: Eventually I found my way to the electronic music studio at UWM and got really into experimenting with different studio processes: tape loops, analog sequencer synthesis, digital audio editing. I guess I acquired a reputation in the film department as someone who was fluent in creating sound for film, whether this meant incidental music, soundcaping or songs. I worked on a bunch of projects for a few grad students, as well as for one of the professors, Cecelia Condit. Her film ("Why Not a Sparrow?") was shown last spring at the Milwaukee Art Museum, but my work had been done four years previously. It was a pretty amazing learning experience. With just a rough narrative idea and no visuals, I created an electronic music score using recordings of bird calls as my guide. Once the tone was set, the music came very easily, very intuitively. I can't say that it happens like that too often.
While I was in school I was also part of a band called Jookbeet. I was writing, singing and playing bass. My old roomates Erik Radloff and David Wake (Recycled Future) were in the band, along with a friend from Chicago named Dustin Harris (Boogie Shoes, Skapone). The idea was to blend elements of soul, hip-hop and jungle in a live band that operated like a club DJ, creating smooth transitions between songs. We treated each song as one aspect in the larger structure of the set, so each show had a logic as far as the flow of energy from beginning to middle to end. Musically, it was very rewarding but it was hard to be consistent about rehearsing and performing. We lived in different cities and had different projects going at the same time, which often meant long tours.Page 1 of 3 (view all on one page)
fan said: Long live The Pacers! and Paul!
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