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Arts & Culture ᐊᔨᐦᑐᐧᐃᓐ

PaulStar discusses his musical journey that has culminated in his first album

BY Joshua Janke Mar 16, 2024

Paul Napash, a.k.a. PaulStar, is a multi-talented Cree artist from Chisasibi. With almost three decades in the music industry, PaulStar is not only a musician, performer and producer, but has become a mentor to aspiring talents. 

PaulStar released his debut album in January. Bring It All Together features 11 songs that reveal his rich and diverse musical influences.

Nation: How did your musical journey begin, and what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

PaulStar: I started my musical journey at the age of 10, learning chords and playing songs by ear. Coming from a musical family, my father and uncles influenced me, and my guitar mentor, Robert Bobbish, introduced me to rock guitar skills. 

Music became my escape, helping me navigate through the challenges of growing up, and providing an outlet for expression. In Chisasibi, I experienced various problems, such as being bullied at school and getting into fights during my teenage years. Although things were a bit different in Waskaganish, and people were generally kind, I still encountered bullies here and there. 

My life was difficult, but music was there to help me. I strongly believe that other artists based in Eeyou Istchee may have also experienced similar traumas. In fact, many people across Canada face comparable life experiences and issues.

Nation: You’ve been involved in the music business for almost three decades. How has your journey evolved over the years?

PaulStar: I began as a guitarist playing at local talent shows and music festivals across the James Bay region, and pretty much almost all the Cree communities. However, my understanding of the music business deepened in my late 20s and early 30s when I pursued studies at Algonquin College in the Music Industry Arts. 

After graduating in 2017, I founded Meikin Records, my record label, which has been thriving since. My goal is to leave my mark in the music industry and Bring It All Together encouraged me to demonstrate my guitar skills and vocal range. 

Nation: Bring It All Together seems to be a significant milestone for you. Tell us more about the album and its themes.

PaulStar: Bring It All Together is a musical journey that explores themes from love to self-discovery. The album showcases versatility with intimate performances like “Rain” and genre-spanning tracks like “Home With You” and “Perfect Love.” Crafted and recorded in my former apartment, the inspiration came from popular tracks and exceptional talents found on streaming platforms.

Nation: In addition to your musical endeavours, you’ve become a mentor for Cree youth via your involvement in the Mikw Chiyâm program.

PaulStar: Mikw Chiyâm is an arts concentration program in Northern Quebec where I mentor secondary students, sharing not only my musical expertise but also my entrepreneurial skills in creating Meikin Records. 

Music residencies like these not only increase students’ attachment to their studies but also provide valuable insights into building a career around music. It’s about inspiring the next generation to follow their passion and dreams. 

I hope they learn a lot from me that will inspire them to take things so much further – because music is great. Music can change anything; it can change lives.

Nation: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians and those interested in the music industry?

PaulStar: For those starting out, focus on learning the basics. Making music can be a lot of fun once you have the necessary skills. For those who are just starting out, it’s important to learn the basics first. This includes understanding things like rhythm, chords, scales and melodies. 

There’s a wealth of free resources available on YouTube, as well as music books that can be found at any music store or library. You can also consider formal education in music, like the programs at Algonquin College, Recording Arts Canada, Trebas Institute or Seneca. 

Networking is key, so connect with industry professionals, build relationships and never give up on your dreams.

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Joshua Janke lives in Montreal and is studying English Literature at Mcgill University. He is passionate about writing, social justice, and creating art.