It’s no exaggeration to describe Paul Epworth as the most influential British producer of his generation. Nor is it hyperbole to also call him the most successful and in-demand, too. His recent production roll-call reads like a must-have list for right-minded music fans: Adele’s ‘21’, Florence + The Machine’s ‘Ceremonials’ and ‘Lungs’, The Big Pink’s ‘Brief History Of Love’ (including their huge radio hit ‘Dominos’) and ‘Future This’, Foster The People ‘Torches’, Cee-Lo Green’s ‘The Lady Killer’, Friendly Fires’s ‘Pala’, Plan B’s ‘The Defamation Of Strickland Banks’, notably the massive, definitive ‘Stay Too Long’ single…There aren’t many individuals that can lay claim to single-handedly shaping the music of a generation, but Paul Epworth is among them. This lasting contribution was given worldwide recognition when he picked up four key Grammy awards in 2012 in the categories of Record Of the Year (‘Rollin’ In The Deep’ – Adele); Song Of The Year (‘Rollin’ In The Deep’, which he co-wrote with Adele); Album Of The Year (’21’ – Adele); Producer Of The Year.
Since the turn of the millennium, Paul has continually set his profession’s gold standard, while his relentless experimentation has explored the furthest reaches of sound design and song-writing. Drawing on everything from hip hop to punk, from soul to electro, he has played a key role in shaping the sound not just of the best records in the charts, but also of British alternative music on the whole. He has the Midas touch. As Florence Welch recently said of the man who in addition to producing/co-writing 2011’s ‘Ceremonials’ also delivered 2009’s ‘Lungs’: “Paul Epworth coaxes the best out of you when nobody else can. He’s incredibly creative, without ever losing sight of the song. He’s my hero, basically.”
Paul combines an unusually wide set of skills and experience, having worked in studios learning his craft, performing in his own band and producing dance remixes before making an impact as a producer. He first rocketed into the public consciousness in 2004 with his work on The Futureheads’ acclaimed eponymous debut album, which served as a manifesto for his forthcoming work. The next time he’d find himself behind the boards, he’d unwittingly be changing the course of indie history with Bloc Party’s Mercury-nominated debut ‘Silent Alarm’ – the album which came to define the Noughties indie sound. Later, in 2008, he’d be reunited with his art-rock protégés on Bloc Party’s ‘Intimacy’ album, which features Paul’s production skills on many of the album’s best tracks.
Since that sudden arrival in 2004 the work has been non-stop, varied and extremely rewarding. He launched the careers of Maxïmo Park and The Rakes, as well as amassing production credits for The Rapture, Babyshambles, Plan B and Kano. In 2007 he assumed joint writing and production duties on Kate Nash’s debut album ‘Made Of Bricks’, spawning hits like ‘Foundations’, ‘Mouthwash’ and ‘Pumpkin Soup’. He also emerged as an acclaimed electronic artist during this period under the pseudonyms Phones and Epic Man, with remixes for P.Diddy, Muse and Nine Inch Nails under his belt.
He’s produced acclaimed albums by the eclectic Jack Peñate (‘Everything Is New’), the darkly new wave Chapel Club (‘Palace’), and singer Sam Sparro, for whom he also co-wrote several songs, as well as working with the legendary Primal Scream (producing two of the standout track’s from the band’s last, 2008 album: 1st single ‘Can’t Go Back’ and title-track ‘Beautiful Future’).
But it’s his recent work as producer and co-writer with Florence and Adele which has launched him into stratosphere, helping him become what The New York Times described recently as “the go-to British producer and song doctor for American pop stars”, as his production work with fellow Grammy nominees Cee-Lo Green and Foster The People underlines. Producing and co-writing ‘Rolling In The Deep’ with Adele helped them both into the global spotlight.
“We just clicked,” Adele says. “Paul had some funny ideas about getting me into character. Like he’d say, ‘pretend you’re a monkey’ or something, but it worked. In our first seven hours we wrote “Rolling In The Deep“ and “He Won’t Go.”
Paul explains his recent work success thus: “A lot of the stuff that I’ve done over the last year or so has been about finding that purity of sound and not embellishing it with weird shit. So the song transcends everything else and has the chance to stand the test of time. That’s such a great thing, to make a pop record that everyone can relate to, a timeless classic. But there’s room for weird shit too! I want to explore every possibility in music.”
True to this exploratory spirit, the end of 2012 sees him engaging in ever-ambitious new endeavors. Alongside entering the final straight on his own solo album project and working with a couple of top secret A-List American soul stars, he has reunited with Adele in taking on a British institution, producing and co-writing the eponymous theme song to the forthcoming James Bond film, ’Skyfall’. Recorded in Abbey Road studios in London with a 77-piece orchestra that was arranged by Paul and JAC Redford, the song is already being heralded as a modern day classic by Bond aficionados and critics alike. Along with this comes the recent announcement of the launch of his own music venture, Wolf Tone, quickly enlisting top-notch talents to its roster in Toronto-based hip hop producer Zodiac, one half of renowned DJ and songwriting duo The Nextmen, Dominic Betmead, and front man and songwriter of iconic indie dance band The Rapture, Mattie Safer.