Articulated Music started back in October 2017 when everyone in the house was asleep, and Paul had a couple of drinks, a few action figures and lots of vinyl. He always tries to make the connection between elements of his environment, so having his action figures match the positions of the people (or animals in some cases) featured on album covers was the start of his deep dive into music history with a growing action figure collection in tow.
1. How long have you been collecting (music and action figures)?
Collecting action figures definitely came first, since I can’t remember not ever playing with them. As for music, I’d have to say that I’ve stayed very contemporary in how I consume it, so I don’t have a collection of CDs or vinyl per se, but I think it’s safe to say I’ve listened to music every single day of my life that I can remember.
I was always drawn to action figures so that I could create or extend storylines from cartoons or movies that the toys were inspired from. And I remember being the harshest toy critic as a kid, because most of them just let you move the arms and legs up and down, or they would a far cry, visually, from their TV or silver screen representation. But then fast forward to becoming a young adult, toy companies really upped their game by adding tons of points of articulation so that you could finally nail that pose you had always wanted to recreate. So being primarily a fan of Spider-Man at that time this was a big deal given how flexible that guy is, and it was like I was just starting to seriously collect toys from that point.
As for music, I’ve mentioned that I almost always choose the contemporary way of listening to it. So when I was a kid, I was often in my parents’ basement listening to records or cassette tapes of their favourite artists, which was mostly pop acts such as Elton John, Elvis Presley and many one-hit wonder artists. Then as a teenager, it was the height of the movie soundtrack compilations which would feature many high-charting singles, but I realize now as I write this out that it actually robbed me from being interested in a particular artist because I could just go ahead and listen to their best-selling efforts. And now as an adult, I’m fully subscribed to the streaming service format, so when I write a post I just look it up and start listening to it immediately.
2. What's the first record you owned and the first action figure you owned?
I’m not sure I remember the first I’ve owned for either, but I do remember the first I’ve bought with my “own” money (I put “own” in quotes, because of course they were bought with allowance money my parents would give me). The first record I bought was The Cars Greatest Hits, released in 1985 which I bought at a local Canadian Tire store. The first action figure I bought was a Battle-Damage He-Man, but I’ll admit I was gunning for a Skeletor action figure and since none were available I didn’t want to go home empty-handed. Sorry, Battle-Damage He-Man, wherever you are, but you weren’t my first choice.
3. Heroes, villains, or anti-heroes? Who is more interesting to you?
Definitely anti-heroes, and this is before everyone was on that wagon (thanks to the devilishly handsome Ryan Reynolds playing Deadpool). In my mind, the definition of what makes a hero or a villain can be very limiting to a fictional character, because a hero will always be the one forced into a position of sacrifice and the villain will always be the one to lead them there knowing this. The anti-hero still has their free will intact, so their story is much more open-ended and creates more opportunity for relatable situations the audience can connect to.
4. What's your typical day like?
My typical day is spent working for a digital media company as a senior software engineer, developing applications to suit their needs while also managing their infrastructure to make sure we can handle the Internet traffic coming in. It’s very nerdy, but it’s the constant problem solving that I really enjoy about it.
5. How do you balance your work with your creative pursuits?
I definitely abide by the rule that my creative pursuits are my way of decompressing from the work day, so while this Instagram project has grown, I’ve still restricted my attention to it in the after-hours. I’ll admit that’s caused a few late nights of playing, uh, I mean positioning action figures in front of album covers, but the balance is there nonetheless.
6. Who or what inspires you?
I think this one is the toughest question, because my inspiration is absorbed through so many sources in the span of a day. I have social media to thank/blame, because I’m a huge fan of perspective and how someone else will convey their feelings about a particular song, movie, or random quote from some well-known or unknown individual.
7. What's been a highlight of Articulated Music so far? Have any musical acts noticed your work?
The highlight of Articulated Music is that both action figure and music enthusiasts seem to enjoy the posts. When I started the project, I wasn’t sure how divided Instagram was on stuff like that because I had honestly never used Instagram all that much and I thought having a project that didn’t “belong” to one group or the other would result in neither accepting the concept.
As for musical acts noticing my work, I remember around the beginning when the official account for Geoff Emerick (sound engineer for most of the Beatles’ albums) would “Like” posts I’d do on the Beatles. As I gained followers though, the artists I was featuring in a post would not only “Like” it, but they’d go as far as comment and even share the post on their own account. The first artist to Like, Comment, Follow and Repost a post featuring them was Bif Naked, and I remember checking and refreshing to make sure it wasn’t some mistake on Instagram’s part (don’t ask me why my mind went there, given I’m in the field of IT it’s kinda pretty impossible for a glitch like that to occur)." Since then, I’ve had official accounts for Crash Test Dummies, Lawrence Gowan, Eagles of Death Metal and many more acknowledge their featured post through a Like, Comment and/or Repost." It’s always humbling and never ever gets old.
8. You mentioned to me that this project has really opened up parts of you and is helping you to figure out who you are. Can you explain?
Growing up, I was always in awe of creative types because their creations always spark reaction inside me and I wanted to be able to pay that forward by hopefully sparking a reaction in others by something I created. However in my mind, the creativity I use for Articulated Music doesn't feel like a viable career option and so it stays in the backseat for now while my career in IT stays in the driver's seat. When I started the Articulated Music project, I realized it was helping grow many of my passions simultaneously, which are music, action figures and writing. The added benefit of exercising these passions through Articulated Music is being exposed to others with similar passions that expose me to music I wouldn't have discovered on my own or action figures I would have never been aware of otherwise (sorry, wallet, at least I'm cute though, right?)."
9. Is this something you could see yourself doing full time as a career, or would that take the enjoyment out of it?
I haven’t given any thought to what a full-time version of Articulated Music would look like, but if I were ever given the chance I know that I would definitely create spin-off projects that have crossed my mind from time to time so that I could jump between projects to hopefully keep my interest in all of them at a respectable peak. " A random example would be a project I’ve thought about, but know I don’t have the time to execute, is “Megatron in Moncton”, and it would feature the Transformers’ Decepticon leader Megatron in random situations around my home city of Moncton, New Brunswick.
10. What's next for you?
I’m horrible at foresight, but I can definitely say that I want to continue my trend of featuring up and coming artists from Canada so that those following me from other countries get a chance to see what kind of talent we have coming out of this ever-evolving music scene.
Follow Paul on Instagram to see more of his creations and to find out what he’s up to next.
Interview by Glodeane Brown
All photos: Paul Curwin (Articulated Music)
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