Plenty of local acts will show their stuff at the second-annual III Points Festival, which takes over Wynwood this weekend. But one home-grown artist that stands out is 22-year-old Miami neo-soul singer-songwriter and pianist Austin Paul, whose sound is so smooth that he’s been compared to John Legend, and none other than Pharrell Williams dubbed him “The Future.” Paul, who will perform his new EP, The Garden, in its entirety, talked to Miami.com about the show (7:45 p.m. Friday on the Mainframe Stage).
How would you describe your music?
We kind of joke around and call it goth-pop, because it has kind of a dark aesthetic and a little bit more of a dark subject matter. But then at the same time, instrumentally it’s not so experimental — it’s a little more electronic and jazzy.
What drew you to the piano in the first place?
I basically started playing when I was younger because of my mom, and then writing kind of drew me to actually start working on it a lot more. But in reality, I focus a lot more on writing than developing my piano skills.
How did you get involved with the III Points Festival, and what can we expect from your set?
Actually, I played last year at III Points Festival — I’m friends with David [Sinopoli], the creator, and I’ve known him for a couple years now. I played last year at the Light Box, and I did like a solo set, and they asked me to come back this year, and I’m opening for Lykke Li, Four Tet and Flying Lotus, and now I have a three-piece set with projections, and we’re gonna be doing the new record, The Garden. We’re going to be playing to whole thing, and then a couple other songs that didn’t make it onto the album.
There are a lot of DJs in the lineup — will you tailor your sound a little to fit that aesthetic, maybe make it a little more clubby?
I’m thinking to kind of keep it pretty chill, because the person that comes right after me is Lykke Li, and her stuff is really power ballads and stuff, but at the same time, we do have a couple other songs that are a little bit more energetic. But I didn’t want to go too over-the-top, and she’d come onstage after and it’d be a completely different vibe. I kind of want it to be a tasteful transition.
Pharrell has called you “The Future” — how did that make you feel?
It made me feel pretty good — definitely a confidence-booster, and it definitely motivated me to really focus a lot more on my music and get better.
How did you hook up with him?
My manager at the time introduced me to him, and I met him by the side of a pool and he was eating chicken wings, and we just started talking. And he asked to hear my music, and we just went from there.
Who are some of your musical influences or idols?
I’d say Danny Elfman, Freddie Mercury and Prince — I really like theatrical stuff. I think that theater really plays a role in the sound and the writing process.
Growing up in a strict Christian household, did you encounter any resistance from your family for your career choice?
It definitely was kind of one of those things where if you want to do it, you’ve just got to do it and go all in. And kind of like, you know how it is in that industry. They definitely support me and they love me, and they’re awesome — they really support what I’m doing as long as I’m happy and passionate about what I’m doing.
So it was kind of like, “Good luck, we love you, but be careful”?
Exactly. They did that for me growing up, so I’m super thankful to have them as my parents, because if I didn’t, I’d be a completely different person. They definitely saved me a lot of times and didn’t even know it.
Being a Miami guy, can you give us a few of your favorite hangouts here?
Bardot, Lagniappe and the Local 151.
FIVE MUSICIANS TO WATCH AT III POINTS
It’s virtually guaranteed that whatever you do during the second-annual III Points Festival, you’re going to have a blast. After all, this three-day celebration of art, culture, technology and music in Wynwood has it all, masterfully blending exhibitions, interactive events and cutting-edge concerts into one eye-opening and mind-expanding experience. But if your focus is mainly on the music, here are five artists you’ll be glad you caught live.
HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR
The essence of this New York City music project masterminded by DJ Andy Butler can be best summed up by one word: fierce. Inspired by Greek and Roman mythology, and bursting with old-school house and disco beats, the group stormed the scene in 2007 with “Blind,” a majestic, soaring song featuring vocals by Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons) that was crowned the best track of the year by Pitchfork Media and No. 2 by Entertainment Weekly. Since then, Butler has continued producing music that sounds at once underground and mainstream, its romance and euphoria tempered by a sense of melancholy. When: 10:40 p.m. Friday on the Mindmelt Stage.
He’s been described as the “bashful beatmaker” of the Mercury Music Prize-winning group The xx, but his work could never be classified as shy. In addition to his success with the British indie-pop band, Jamie xx (born Jamie Smith) was tapped to remix or produce artists as diverse as Florence + The Machine, Adele, Radiohead, Drake feat. Rihanna and Alicia Keys. Catch him in support of his first single in three years, “Sleep Sound.” When: 1:45 a.m. Saturday on the Mainframe Stage.
Swedish indie-rock singer-songwriter’s haunting voice drives her intimate, confessional compositions that tap both folk and hip-hop with a kiss of mysticism. She’s worked with U2, Royksopp, David Lynch and Kanye West, and even wrote a song for “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” Now, she takes the stage on the strength of her third studio album, “I Never Learn,” featuring the singles “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone,” “Gunshot” and “No Rest for the Wicked.” When: 8:40 p.m. Friday on the Mainframe Stage.
L.A. experimental hip-hop and electronic music producer Steven Ellison’s work is so cool he’s known as FlyLo. And he’s got royal DNA, as he’s the great-nephew of legendary jazz pianist Alice Coltrane and saxophonist John Coltrane, plus the grandson of Marilyn McLeod, who wrote Diana Ross’ hit “Love Hangover.” He takes the stage in support of his fifth studio album, “You’re Dead!” featuring collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Herbie Hancock. When: 11:15 p.m. Friday on the Mainframe Stage.
Montreal DJ/producer is best-known for his campy and endlessly infectious reworkings of Corey Hart’s ‘80s hit “Sunglasses at Night” and Nelly’s hip-hop classic “Hot In Herre,” as well as being credited for throwing Canada’s first proper rave. But he’s also put his deft remixing touch on tracks by artists including Moby, LCD Soundsystem, Depeche Mode, Peaches, Fischerspooner and Scissor Sisters, and promises to deliver one of the liveliest sets of the weekend. When: 12:35 a.m. Sunday on the Mainframe Stage.