Saturday 13 February 2016


Paul has created entire economies out of his unique ability to form an emotional connection through music. But what happens when you ask arguably our greatest living songwriter to take a process that usually spans three minutes or an entire album, and compress it down to five seconds?
Paul has a favourite emoji. And it's not one of the ones in Japan that feature his own face.

"I like one with shades on, If you think the tone of your text or email is a little bit too serious, or might be construed as serious, you just throw in a happy face. "Paul says.
Paul has now entered the strange world of emoji himself, after working with Microsoft and Skype to compose and record a set of ten, five-second-long audible emoticons -- what Microsoft terms a 'Moji' -- each designed to replicate and represent a specific romantic emotion.
Drop a Moji in mid-conversation, as you have been able to on Skype since September 2015, and you'll now be rewarded with a Skype-designed animation and a Paul-composed audio flourish.

Paul said that he was speculative about the concept, but found it rewarding in practice. "The first thing is deciding whether I want to do it or not. Is it just too silly to even get involved in? But there is a kind-of-challenging aspect to it," he tells. Working at his Hog Hill Mill studio in Sussex, he started using a Moog synthesiser. "I ran right through the 20, and gave my first thought as to what the interpretation in music would be of that certain emotion," he says. "Of course the fun was trying to pack them in under five seconds."
Eventually he added a range of other instruments, from guitar and keyboards to full drums and his own voice. "I got totally into it, I got amazingly intrigued and challenged with it," he says.

The Mojis themselves are a slightly perplexing listen when taken out of context; 'In Love' sounds like a scene-to-scene interlude in a mid-90s American soap opera, while 'Miss You' features Paul singing a classic Beatles-era 'doo-de-doo-doo', only slowed down with a shimmering bed of reverb and tremolo. 'Solo and Loving it' is a funky bass-heavy riff, while 'Flirting' takes that template and adds acoustic guitar strums over the electronics.
But used in conversation on Skype, as they are meant to be, they lose any weight of expectation; in the context of that platform they are mostly just a light, funny complement to a conversation. Like emoji themselves, they are an accent to something that might otherwise be slightly more dry and everyday. Like the harmonious, weighted chord heard on starting your Mac, the thunk of a heavy car door or, conversely, the aggravating shriek of an alarm clock, these are sounds meant to be experienced alongside life, not separate to it.
Perhaps even that reaction is still to think about the project a bit too much.
"I'm not taking the whole thing too seriously, you know," Paul says. "It is actually a fun thing really than deadly earnest."

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