What this is all about

Based on the WMRA show "The Spark", hosted by Martha Woodroof, this project looks at the creative passions of college students in the Shenandoah Valley area.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Paulo Dorado, the Guitarist

         When I brought Paulo Dorado to the radio station to record our conversation, he said he wasn’t nervous. He seemed more comfortable with the situation than I was, being familiar with the equipment from having spent time in a recording studio. I could tell his hands were itching to play around with the dials on the soundboard and explore the computer program. Paulo may be a science geek, but his passion is for music, and once I got him talking our conversation flowed so naturally you’d think he was interviewed all the time.
Music had been a part of his family before Paulo was even born. His father was a musician, and used to tell Paulo stories about how he had been born into a family of musicians.
“I thought that was B.S for like the first half of my life,” he said with a laugh.
But when Paulo was thirteen, his family moved to Northern Virginia from the Philippines, and his older brother bought a guitar. Like most siblings, he refused to share with Paulo, so Paulo had to get one for himself. He practiced every day for four hours at a time, teaching himself to play and even writing his own songs.
“It was like, I’m living up to something, a goal.” With a father who was a professional musician, Paulo felt motivated to become a skilled musician himself. But that was not the only factor that drove him.
Paulo spoke almost no English when he moved to the United States. He had to overcome not only culture shock, but a massive language barrier as well.
“I was from the, I guess “ghetto” part of the Philippines. And, you know the way we solve problems is we tussle it out... First day, someone threw my lunch tray away. And I was like dude... I couldn’t say anything. I was stuttering, I didn’t know what to say, I couldn’t come up with the words... couldn’t come up with English. And I punched this dude in the face....I just couldn’t explain myself back then...There was just no outlet for my emotions.”
At a loss for words, Paulo needed a new outlet to express himself. He delved into music and focused on creating his own songs. After a few years in the US he developed a close group of musically inclined friends and they formed a band. Their nerdy side came out and they named the band Amion, taken from a band member’s misspelling of Amino Acid. Being in this band has been, so far, the highlight of Paulo’s musical career.
With his old band, Amion

            When I got him talking about the band he was so excited he was almost having trouble sitting still in his chair. “Once you learn how to perform and can get people listening or looking up to you, the excitement is insane,” he said. “Nothing can drive you, exhilarate you, like being on stage.”
            His time with the band, however, was short lived. After being offered a management contract with the band, Paulo backed out, citing the unfair distribution of the money, and the rest of the band followed suit.  Some band members were not as dedicated as others, and so eventually the band fell apart. But Paulo doesn’t blame only the other members of his band for its gradual decline.
            “I was being an asshole.”
            Although he remains friends with some of his old band mates, getting back together with them wouldn’t be an option. Their friendship has been easier without the strain of working together, and the thought of returning to his old bickering self prevents any temptation to return to that.
            Since his band fell apart in high school, Paulo has only performed on stage once. His four hour a day practices have dwindled down to an hour every week or two, and although he continues to write lyrics he rarely comes up with the music to accompany it. He wasn’t exactly sure when this cycle began, and he began to neglect his music, but the combination of classes and his devotion to the Asian Student Union (ASU) took up much of his time and made it even more difficult to focus on his music. But it’s hard to completely give up on something after having spent so much time dedicated to it. 

Performing for the ASU Culture Show
   He performed in the ASU Culture Show last fall, his first performance since high school, and he’s been trying to get more time into his schedule to devote to music. There is a talent show JMU is hosting this semester, and he’s interested in competing in it. It will take a lot of work to get back to the level he was at in high school, but Paulo is a passionate guy. He’s been busy these past few months, but his love of music has not died.
           In the meantime, the gap left by putting down his guitar is being filled by another passion. Paulo was recently elected president of ASU, where he has been able to express himself in a whole new way. Learning about his birth culture has helped him have a greater understanding of his own and his family’s past. All the energy and spirit he once poured into music is now focused on this club. And he’s got big plans.
            “I’m trying to push a parade. First time at JMU an organization organizes a parade for everyone to see. It’s going to be super cultural…That would pretty much accomplish my dream for my organization… to incorporate as many unsung talents… that’s why I’m so passionate about this.”
            I don’t doubt that Paulo can achieve this. It will of course take a lot of work, and with him trying to get back to guitar and music he will have an even busier schedule, but there is nothing standing in his way.
            Before our conversation ended, I asked Paulo if he would ever want to be in a band again.  
“What I would do to be in a band again...you need to have the most trusted people, the most committed people, and also the people you have great chemistry with. I wouldn’t go as far to say you’re home, but it’s really close to home.”
            Although it may be a little while before Paulo finds a new band, in the meantime he has his hands full.
            My next conversation, with Blue Ridge's Jessica Romero, will be posted with next week’s show. So stay tuned until then. 

1 comment:

  1. Julia, Thanks for your interesting articles. I like your choice of details that you share about the people you interview.