The steady sound of an electric fan is interrupted by a play button click, and by a Beyonce song right after. A pointer in a little illuminated box is moving from side to side obeying the beat. The sound coming out the speakers is as wholesome as only the sound coming out of a quality 90s stereo can be. Paul Rome, Bushwick writer, proudly turns the volume button to the right. “I have always wanted a stereo like this,” he says. We’re in his Bushwick room and a studio at the same time. Paul has recently again come to the attention of public: this time by an online release of an epic audio play called The You Trilogy. Paul authored all three parts of the story, the main character of which is You; read it; composed the music to enhance the effect of this ‘almost cataclysmic’ story; and his buddy musician Roarke Menzies recorded and mixed it. The first two parts were released in June and July, and the final installment is prepared for August.
“The You Trilogy is kind of a social experiment…” says Paul while turning on his keyboard. “Originally, I wanted to release it on a record, but Roarke persuaded me that an online release would be better. Now I want to see how far an audio play like this can reach. Its length is also important; it’s not a 5-minute long play. Every part is 30 minutes long. ”
I’m convinced that Paul must be a great musician taking into account how sensitively he composed the music to most of his audio achievements. Paul protests, insisting that he only has this huge keyboard, and sometimes he presses a button here… and a button there, and a couple of keys like this….and suddenly… “Oh, do you recognize? This is the bossa nova background music from The Game, the first part of The You Trilogy.” asks Paul clearly entertained by the musical part. Paul explains that music is a very powerful tool to accompany a text. “Maybe even too powerful….” Paul makes a mystical face.
Another artifact in Paul’s proud possession is a 90s cassette player. “I got it from a friend, it was just sitting on a shelf, and she thought it doesn’t work.” Paul is rewinding a cassette. “But it does, and actually I used it during the Bushwack Series at The Bushwick Starr.”
Paul’s fascination with audio formats comes from his childhood, when his parents used to listen to plays on the radio. He says he didn’t like radio plays back then; it was only a bit later when he started to specifically write compact pieces to be read out aloud. Theater plays are too complicated. You need to many people, too many resources… it’s a way serious thing.
By day Paul works at Wycoff Starr, and by night he writes, composes or records. Paul’s readings became largely visited, because of how close to a performance they actually are. Paul’s reading is very engaging – he’s cracking up he’s a wannabe actor – and the music and sound effects just won’t let you detach from the story. But Paul insists that every good writer reads well: “They just have the sound of the story in their head….”