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Arts + CultureMusicPoolside celebrates 10 years of 'Pacific Standard Time' with...

Poolside celebrates 10 years of ‘Pacific Standard Time’ with sun-drenched vibes

Jeffrey Paradise talks about his debut 2012 chillwave nu-disco album—and how SF shaped its influential sound

With its slowed-down daytime-disco sound, barely there vocals, and escapist lyrics, Poolside’s wildly influential premiere LP, Pacific Standard Time, is chock-full of SoCal chill. 

That’s hardly surprising since the project’s 16-song set was recorded by two friends—Jeffrey Paradise and Filip Nikolic—in another friend’s Los Feliz pool house in 2011, with plenty of mescal on hand and few expectations. 

But Paradise, a native of San Diego who currently resides in LA, told 48 Hills that his 11 years living in San Francisco (where he discovered the disco, house, and electronic music that shaped Poolside’s sound) can also be heard on the 2012 record.  

“It would be impossible for the 10 years of my early adulthood—the first 10 years of my twenties—to not be in my music,” says Paradise, the sole member of Poolside since 2017. “I discovered what I loved about music then.” 

Now, four acclaimed albums in, the producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist is set to return to San Francisco for an August 12 gig at 1015 Folsom to celebrate Pacific Standard Time’s 10th anniversary.

I spoke to Paradise about the record that started it all, making the music he wanted to hear, and the influence of San Francisco nightlife on an otherwise sun-soaked album.

48 HILLS Why is Pacific Standard Time’s 10th anniversary something to celebrate?

JEFFREY PARADISE These days, being a band for 10 years and releasing multiple albums in the music industry is pretty inconceivable. That the album is still connecting with people after 10 years, and that this little project that started in a little pool house in Los Feliz is has grown into something like this is beyond my wildest dreams.

48 HILLS What fond memories do you have of recording your first LP? What were the challenges? 

JEFFREY PARADISE I have many, many fond memories. It was done quite quickly. So it was my friend Filip and I drinking mescal in our friend’s pool house and making songs that we intended to listen to while we had barbecues and hangouts, so it couldn’t have been more fun. I guess it’s fair to say that there were no challenges because we didn’t expect anything to come from it, so we didn’t deliberate over anything. We were just very much in the flow and creating a very pure album. There was nothing to live up to or anything to think about. It was just two guys hanging out.

48 HILLS Did the project become bigger for you during the recording process? 

JEFFREY PARADISE No, not at all. Nothing changed during the recording process. We were just making songs for fun, and we had some interest early on for the song “Do You Believe.” But we still suspected that if we were lucky, we’d play like one to four DJ gigs a year in really unique settings. So we had no idea that it would become popular. The music seemed very antithetical to what we perceived as popular.

48 HILLS “Next To You,” “Why You Wanna,” “Slow Down,” “Kiss You Forever,” and “Do You Believe” are some of my favorite Poolside tracks.  How did you develop the Poolside sound?

JEFFREY PARADISE We didn’t think about what this sounded like, where this was going to fit in, or where this was going. We thought “Do You Believe” was 104 beats per minute—and, at the time, a slow DJ track felt like anything below 125. Like even 120 felt slow. So 104 was just impossible for DJs. And we wrote it as a DJ-style track. It wasn’t an indie-rock track. 

We had never heard of that genre with Washed Out and Toro y Moi called chillwave. We hadn’t heard of that at all. But again, this was like DJ music, so we got lumped in with Chillwave, which I did like. We felt we were more in line with [electronic music producers] Tiger & Woods and Tensnake and Aeroplane—things like that, but even slower. So it was like un-DJable music, influenced by a little more Caribbean vibes and Los Angeles. So that’s how we developed the sound—by coming up with what we wanted to hear.

48 HILLS The album includes a terrific rendition of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” Why did you choose that song to cover?

JEFFREY PARADISE We had finished Pacific Standard Time, and we had six months before it came out. We had already released “Do You Believe,” and we felt it was too long to put out nothing. So we thought a cover could be a good way to tide over our fans, which were in the hundreds before the album. And Filip and I were both kind of going through divorces, and we’re both big Neil Young fans. So that song felt meaningful to both of us for different reasons. And Neil Young is a great songwriter but not the best voice. I like his voice but it doesn’t rely on an amazing vocal style to sing, which also fits with Poolside. So we thought a Neil Young song could be perfect for that.

48 HILLS “Tulsa” is such a beautiful instrumental, but I always wondered how it fits thematically with PST. Tell me why you opened the album with that track.

JEFFREY PARADISE Well, I think that’s a reasonable thought. It is a bit of an outlier. It relates to “Can’t Get You Off My Mind” and “Next To You.” Quite a few songs have lap steel guitar on them. With “Tulsa,” we leaned even more into the country sound that influenced us—the real laid-back, hanging with your friends on the front porch style of country. That was a huge inspiration. So the song is inspired by J.J. Cale, who’s from Tulsa, and there is a whole group of musicians from Tulsa who moved to LA in the ‘70s, who became studio musicians and were fans of that sound in particular. So it was a nod to that. And I believe it ties in with quite a few songs, including “Harvest Moon” and the other ones I mentioned. 

So we opened with it because there was a lot of Nu-disco at the time that was leaning more and more in an EDM direction. Nu-disco started, at least from my perspective, very differently from EDM. That’s why I liked it. And by the time it was whatever, 2011 or 12, it was leaning more and more into crisp, clean production and was barely different than some of the EDM that was out. So I was like, “Yo, let’s start the album with the song that’s the least EDM, so people know we’re not trying to be in that world.”

48 HILLS How did you come up with the title Pacific Standard Time?

JEFFREY PARADISE I was thinking about the title and going through several ideas. There wasn’t a bolt of lightning, but I was writing down a bunch of ideas. I wonder if I could find the papers that I had other ideas on; it’d probably be pretty funny to look at. For some reason, I was hesitant to go with Pacific Standard Time because I think it felt so on the nose.

So I told all the other ideas to our friend Alexis, who wound up being our manager, and Filip. And then I was like, “There is one idea I have. I know it’s pretty good but it feels maybe too on the nose or something—Pacific Standard Time.” And he was like, “That’s it; that’s amazing.” So that was how it came up.

But yeah, the concept of the name mirrored the casualness of the project. It was not supposed to be like, “Oh, hell yeah, this is going to be a hit,” or “Dude, we’re blowing up” or anything. It was we’re just hanging out and this is what we do. This is just the same way that it’s been. That’s what time it is, in a sense—Pacific Standard Time. It was here’s the music in a very non-bold sort of way.

48 HILLS Poolside has such a SoCal vibe, of course. I know you’re from San Diego and live in LA, but what was it about your time in San Francisco that made it into your music?

JEFFREY PARADISE OK, here’s the answer. I used to work at a record store called Open Mind Music. It’s still around in Oakland. But it used to be by Divisadero and Fell. I think it’s a dog daycare now. It’s where I met all the DJs who lived in San Francisco and got turned on to house music. And through house, I figured out some disco stuff. It was a general record store with all genres but catered to DJs. So that’s where I discovered almost everything that has informed me musically. I had a taste in music before that, but that’s where I discovered disco, house, and electronic music, which led me to all of the sounds that are in Poolside.

Poolside: Celebrating 10 years of Pacific Standard Time Fri/12, 10pm, 1015 Folsom, SF. $35-40. Tickets and more info here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter
Joshua Rotter is a contributing writer for 48 Hills. He’s also written for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, SF Chronicle, and CNET.

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