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Art & Life with Paul Dateh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Dateh.

Paul, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Somewhere in a different dimension, there’s a version of me that did what he was supposed to do. He strived to do well in school, practiced violin diligently every day, and went on to attend a prestigious music conservatory. He completed his training in classical violin performance, worked hard to get into a good orchestra, and is now teaching lessons to the young violinists of the next generation. His focus and determination has paid off, and he is fulfilled and happy. I take comfort in believing that somewhere out there, he really does exist.

In this dimension, however, things are very different. I was a fairly rebellious child, and I rarely did what I was supposed to do. Much like my stubbornly straight hair, it was unusual for me to take direction without loudly challenging it.

Maybe it was because of having to constantly navigate the balance between heritage and culture — being a child of immigrant parents, being trained to honor the history of a 16th-century instrument while living in the 21st. Whatever the reason, I always felt a deep drive to do something different than what was expected of me.

I didn’t get a degree in classical violin performance. Instead, I went to Jazz school to learn to sing. I kept the fact that I played the violin a secret from my Jazz schoolmates, just as I had kept my love for hip hop a secret from my violin teachers.

After I left music school, I got a job at a record store/label, and my love for hip hop grew even more. My friend and coworker Chris was an incredible DJ, and he was always kind of showing me which new tracks were the best. I loved the music so much that I needed to be a part of it. I told Chris about my violin past, and he immediately suggested that we collaborate on a project together.

We arranged a routine in which we quoted iconic hip hop themes and improvised upon them. We shot a video of it and uploaded it to YouTube to share with our friends. We had no idea that the video would then change our lives. It became one of the first viral music videos in the still then nebulous world of “new media,” and it helped us build our current careers.

Now that I’m a little older, I’m thankfully not as rebellious as I was when I was younger. Having a defiant streak is great for exploring new territory, but not always the best engine for creating music. Being a rebel brought me to where I am today, though, and I’m forever grateful for that journey. I’m looking forward to what’s next.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Working to discover new ways of exploring music is my passion. I love combining music with technology. There’s a vibrant community of experimental artists that are always on the cutting edge of music performance, and I am constantly in awe of them. They inspire me to continue finding and developing my own voice, and I hope to do the same for others with my work.

What responsibility, if any, do you think artists have to use their art to help alleviate problems faced by others? Has your art been affected by issues you’ve concerned about?
I believe the role of artists has always been to connect people. Our job is to give a voice to people’s thoughts and emotions with the goal of achieving greater shared empathy. It’s always my hope that building empathy will help make the world a better place.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
http://pauldateh.com is probably the best place to see what’s going on with me professionally. http://youtube.com/pauldateh has all of my older work, and @pauldateh on IG is where I’m currently most active. You can also find my work on Apple Music and Spotify.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
IG: @Yohanyoon_, @irvinkliu, @andyachen

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