Paper Diamond Prepares To Shine at Mad Decent Block Party L.A.
"I think I spilled a beer on [Diplo]; he was whipping me with a towel or something like that. I think I ruined his shirt that night."
To say that Boulder-based beat magician Alex Botwin, better known as Paper Diamond, didn’t exactly ace his first encounter with Mad Decent mainman Diplo would be putting it mildly. “I think I met him initially at Red Rocks in Colorado,” recalls Botwin, “which is one of the most amazing venues in the world. I think I spilled a beer on him; he was whipping me with a towel or something like that. I think I ruined his shirt that night.”
After that ignominious introduction, Diplo must have really heard something in Paper Diamond, then, because the rest of the story goes as follows: “I sent him some music, and he hit me up and said he really liked some of it. He put me on with his team at Mad Decent.” Since then, Diplo’s label played midwife to the Paper Diamond EP Wavesight and opened up a whole new audience for the young electro-auteur. But Botwin reports that there’s even more in store. “I’m working on a whole lot more new music. I’m going out to Los Angeles next week to work in the studio all week. I’m figuring out what exactly makes sense to put out.”
Botwin is no stranger to underground-oriented artistic collectives like Mad Decent, having helped create one himself: Elm & Oak. “It’s actually funded through CU-Boulder on campus,” he explains. “There’s a design firm, a record label which has a brand, and we recently started a thing called Elm & Oak Academy, in which we’re gonna be teaching music production and business and art. We also have an art gallery here in Boulder. There’s a lot of different people that are working there, we’re constantly busy being creative and there’s a lot of different outlets. It’s a big community of artists and musicians really helping each other.” So Paper Diamond is a natural fit for Mad Decent philosophically as well as musically. “They have been awesome to work with,” Botwin affirms. “As an artist I definitely respect what [Diplo’s] doing and I’m grateful he put some of my music out and is continuing to work with my stuff. As a label owner, I think he’s doing a great job. I couldn’t be happier, honestly.”
On August 25, the relationship between Paper Diamond and the Mad Decent universe will be cemented even more firmly by the former’s appearance at the Mad Decent Block Party at Los Angeles Center Studios, alongside the likes of Zed’s Dead, Theophilus London, Bonde do Role, and Three Loco (Andy Milonakis, Riff Raff, and Dirty Nasty). “I’m excited,” enthuses Botwin, who envisions the event as being “probably pretty wild. It’ll definitely be an awesome night. Mad Decent artists in general I think definitely push the boundaries, and musically I’m into them, so it’s cool. A majority of that stuff is in my current rotation. I’m definitely excited to meet Riff Raff again.”
Those who get to see Paper Diamond laying it down live at the Block Party are in for an interactive experience. “I see music as a conversation,” says Botwin. So it’s never the same process for me, it’s always different. Sometimes I’m learning new things, it’s always exciting. I have my multi-track, so I have bass stems and drum stems and keyboard stems so I can be mixing different things on the fly. I have a good idea of where I’m starting, but I kind of base even what genre I want to play on the audience reaction, and I have all kinds of different stuff at all BPMs. It’s constantly changing, and there’s room for error, which I actually find exciting. I feel a stronger connection with the audience because of being able to improvise and go out there and make it different every single time.”
Enter to win a pair of VIP tickets to Mad Decent Block Party L.A. from Société Perrier here.