Paul Francis Wilkie showcases his cat Mabel’s adventurous spirit in his latest track. A follow-on from his single ‘Edie’, he teams up with drummer Martin Johnston for this instrumental song. We sat down with Paul Francis Wilkie (PFW) to talk about ‘Mabel’, his music and much more!
OSR: Who inspired you to become a musician?
PFW: I’ve always been a visual artist who loved music and played the guitar, but I didn’t start recording ideas and playing music with other people until I was about 20. When I moved to Glasgow, I was studying photography and a lot of people who I met were in different bands. The one person who has encouraged me the most though is James Brannigan. We lived in a flat for years with his band. We would all have fun and I learned how to properly record and develop ideas in that time. Most people just think I’m an artist so it’s funny you said I’m a musician.
OSR: How would you describe the music you typically create?
PFW: Listening to songs made up of three chords and a boring repetitive steady beat make me feel like I’m decomposing. I can’t listen to that, so why should anyone else. I like things that sound complex but still organic and it’s good to hear something that has a bit of thought and effort in it. Not just someone copying something else to try and fit in. As I’m making new music it’s always about learning what the song wants to sound like and seeing where I can take it whilst allowing it to become its own thing.
OSR: What made you decide to write songs about your cats?
PFW: When Edie the cat died, she was right at the front of my mind. I had lost one of my wee pals and it’s a reminder of how life is as delicate as it is. Not just for a cat, but all of us. I was depressed out my mind for years, but things were changing for the better, then suddenly wee Edie the cat had died. It kicks things into perspective. After that, I became closer to her sister Mabel, whose personality is entirely different, and who deserved a song made for her as well.
OSR: Since Edie’s passing, have you considered getting a new cat?
PFW: My partner Susan always says that one day she hopes that a box of kittens arrives at the door. If that happened it would be cool. For now, Mabel is the Cat of the house.
OSR: Which famous musicians do you admire and why?
PFW: Well, I think Chris Cornell was quite cool, he had a good voice that sucked you in to what he was singing about. How he could express his vocals as emotionally complex as it was melodically sophisticated using all that power he had melted me into the seat. When he sang he would have this tone that got better as he got older and hit those notes that no one else can, but then he would go one further to make your eyeballs bulge. One of a kind. I was sad when he died, I was worried in case it was because I was listening to too much Soundgarden at the time in case it was my fault. I felt so bad about it. I still think it’s weird that he’s dead.
OSR: How did you and Martin Johnston get together to make ‘Mabel’?
PFW: A while ago I had a lot of demos that were ready to go and we went to Martin’s studio at the time in Coatbridge so he could do the drums on them. We had done a lot before this so we knew what sound we were going for. It was in the summer of 2017 and the drums for both Mabel and Edie were recorded on the same day. Neither of the two cats that the tracks are about were even born yet. At the time the demos were about getting a daft haircut and thinking you were cool, but everyone was laughing at you, and the other one was about robbing a cash machine in a busy field at a festival where everyone can see, so you get caught and end up penniless anyway. By the time I got round to finishing them (years later during the Covid19 lockdown) I was thinking about the cats because Edie had died. The arrangement stayed the same because the drums were fully recorded but the guitar and the bass, which I recorded at my home studio, had evolved to fit.
OSR: Are you planning any videos for your releases?
PFW: As far as music videos go, I have planned out the full thing for Edie, if I stick to the plan it will be a lot of work but it will definitely be worth it. So far my YouTube is quite bare, but it won’t be like that for long. I’ve got a massive amount of footage that I’m going to use to make into something. Pretty sure I filmed the actual drum takes for these two tracks as well so I can do something with that. For years I was a videographer who made videos for bands and musicians around Scotland, but now I’ve decided to focus on my own stuff.
OSR: What advice would you give aspiring musicians?
PFW: Don’t rush your releases but still work hard. A lot of bands and musicians release a lot of crap just for the sake of it before it’s ready and they aren’t happy with it later. I enjoy the process of making stuff and I learn so much by going over it. It’s not a race or a competition, you can only be yourself so enjoy it. It’s supposed to be fun.
OSR: What is the best advice you have been given?
PFW: That I can do it myself. You don’t need all these people telling you what they think or that what you’re doing is right or wrong. Just get on with it.
OSR: What is next for Paul Francis Wilkie?
PFW: I’m doing loads at once. I’m focussed on making a storybook of my creative writing and an album just now but I think I’ll put an EP out first just for some build-up. I broke my bass recording ‘Mabel’ so I need to get another one urgently. All the drums are done for the EP and the album, I just need to do the guitar and bass properly and see what I’m doing for the vocals.