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24 September 2014
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TOTP Online

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Where Are They now?
Paul Hardcastle
Electro-pop wizard Paul Hardcastle chats to us about '19', pioneering dance music and that TOTP theme tune...

This producer, mixer, composer and keyboard wizard was one of the UK dance music scene's first crossover successes. He first worked in a hi-fi shop and developed an interest in electronics in his teens. Paul made his recording debut in 1981 on 'Don't Depend On Me', a single by UK soul act Direct Drive.

Paul's big breakthrough came with the following year's '19', a record about the Vietnam conflict utilising samples of spoken news reports. The single went to number 1 in 13 countries, including his native England, and received the Ivor Novello award for The Bestselling Single Of 1985. He also wrote the Top Of The Pops theme, 'The Wizard', in 1986, before switching to production for young funk band LW5, providing remixes for anyone from Third World to Ian Dury.

TOTP2 tracked down the electro-pop expert and found out if he's been twiddling his thumbs since twiddling his knobs so well back then...

What have you been up to recently?
Paul: After TOTP, '19' and everything I went for the American market and did smooth jazz and R & B and over the last eight years I've done really well. I've sold more than 3 million albums in America, I've had five No.1s on the R & B charts too - so I haven't been quiet! In the middle of last year, my most recent album - 'Hardcastle III' - well, it's the second-biggest selling smooth R & B record in England. I'm not in everyone's face at the moment but I sell more albums now than I did when '19' was out, believe it or not.

Have you got a new album coming out soon?
Paul: At the end of March the best of Paul Hardcastle is coming out 'cos I've been making records for the last 20 years! I think it's going from 1983 - 2002 so it'll be the TOTP theme, '19', 'Don't Waste My Time' plus loads of other stuff from the different eras. And all the stuff I've done under different names, like the Deff Boyz. To be around 20-odd years later is quite difficult!

How did you first get into music?
Paul: I was working in a hi-fi shop in the King's Road in Chelsea and I used to listen to the radio lots and think, wow, I could do that. I had a video camera and I decided to swap it for a synthesiser. What's really funny now is the fact that when dance music first came out it was very hard to get it played on the radio. People would say, 'Oh no, that's too dancey - I don't want to play that', and now it's like, 'Well, we'd prefer a dance mix of that', so it's come full circle. But it was quite frustrating at the time because the first two records I brought out both stopped at No.41!

What do you think of dance music now? Is there anyone you particularly like?
Paul: I do like that song by Kelly Rowland. 'Stole'. But the other one, with Nelly ['Dilemma'] - I couldn't listen to that! 'Stole' is a fantastic song!

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