We’re not even ten minutes into the interview, and my eyes start welling up with tears. “The fact that you’re here right now, you’re blinking, and I’m breathing, there’s blood pulsing through our body, that is enough,” he tells me over video. As he sits in his hotel room, escaping the sweltering heat of Las Vegas, and I hide away in a cold New York City office, it’s like space collapses. Suddenly, we’re sitting side-by-side as equals, though miles apart. “I don’t need to prove anything. I’m alive; that’s enough,” he continues. His words cut deep with profound honesty as he manages to strip away my ego. This is the power of Pauli Lovejoy.
Beyond his love for drumming and self-indulgent work, he sits atop a mountain of creation spanning compositions and productions for high-profile musicians, and a recent modeling career with British label Ben Sherman as he heads into his second campaign. It’s hard to understand how Lovejoy does it all. He’s transformed into a multi-hat-wearing consummate of music that has simply become accustomed to sheer volume. As someone who spends their time in a meditative space, he assures me it’s more about “being present” and a deeper awareness of the self rather than trying to manage it.
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“We all have some level of ego that makes us who we are as people,” he begins to explain. “I think it’s just being conscious of it and not fighting the practice of deep meditation. You have to find the instruments — find what the vessel is to get you to that place. What is the conduit going to be to help you communicate these deep ideas.”
For Lovejoy, Pauli The PSM, as he goes by professionally, this conduit could never be more clear. Crafting behind the scenes as a director for other prominent visionaries like Eliza Doolittle, FKA Twigs, and most recently Harry Styles, his prowess has transcended the likes of a musician. As a result, Lovejoy has become somewhat of a celestial, guiding the ideas and sounds of others from high above as a divine craftsman. “Being able to help someone bring their vision to life — It’s the best thing in the world,” he says, elated as we discuss the breadth of this work. “It just makes me excited to bring something out of them they couldn’t or something they weren’t confident enough about putting out there.”
GROWING UP IN LONDON, music was Lovejoy’s ceremony. As he recounts flipping through the collection of soul and jazz records his mother owned, he reflects on the nuances of the experience. “The fact that you have to reach for the record and look at the liner notes then put the vinyl on the turntable and drop the needle on the right track, there’s an art to it. It’s so meaningful, as opposed to being digital,” he describes, defining the intimacy vinyl has created with music.
Something as simple as playing Grover Washington Jr. soon became a habitual sacrament that opened his mind to the connections between music and people. “We would have it on repeat and dance along,” he tells me, painting a detailed portrait of the parties he and his mom would share while “Just the Two of Us” played in the background. “It was just me and her in the house at that point. I remember her going through stuff, but I didn’t realize I was the thing helping her get through. Her holding on to me tight, and me thinking we were just having fun, was her therapy.”
These experiences remain a thread line in his life, connecting each song, every album, and every project. “Now knowing that story, I’m able to translate it without her even telling me. It’s become my therapy and something that I’m so conscious of when I’m making my own music.”
Even in his latest single, “Milkyway,” a love ballad that blends smooth vocals with a form of spoken poetry that debuts on November 10th, the objectification of physical intimacy is stripped away, giving power to the importance of being present. “My grandma used to say ‘You got two ears and one mouth for a reason.’ I think it’s such a beautiful way of approaching a relationship. When you’re in an argument, you can be the first person to say so much as opposed to just listening. I think there’s such a power in just stepping back and saying ‘Let me hear you out.’”
Through the decades, Lovejoy has become attuned to the art of being present. As a result, “Milkyway” explores closeness through an intellectual lens, sporting lyrics like “Can I take a ride on the inside of your mind?” It’s a refreshing approach to the ideas of love, that beyond the physical, true familiarity is a result of understanding someone in totality.
“What are the impacts of the music that I’m making now?” he poses to himself as we push on. “How can people hold their loved ones when they’re listening to it? What are they going to feel?” All these questions direct his process, guiding his work and the joy he experiences with musicians and people within his circle.
IN TERMS OF STYLE, Lovejoy’s look remains easy stated yet sharp. Early photos reveal a bohemian chic of sorts — leather jackets paired with tees, oversized sweaters, boxy shirts, and tailoring all cast in a shade of midnight black. Occasionally, a stray scarf wraps his neck, though the photos suggest they’re purely decorative rather than practical. It’s a look reflective of his eclecticism, preppy British styling deconstructed to form sartorial sets imbued with notes of his travels.
At its core, his current style remains unchanged, presenting a mature version of his younger self and remixing the essence of a uniform into relaxed basics: Polos paired with pressed slacks and a bomber jacket as he roams the grounds of Normandie, tan suit sets hiking the desert, and cable-knit jumpers as he treks the west coast. Though hints of eclecticism remain, his style has evolved into a refined replica.
However, overlaid in his choices, both past and present, is the idea of identity and possession, “wearing the clothes and the clothes not wearing you,” as he puts it. “Everyone has their style, it’s just about owning it. Anyone can go into a boutique and have a personal shopper or stylist say ‘Hey, try on these crazy incredible clothes.’ But I don’t want to see [style] as this exchange or transaction.”
As Lovejoy delights in this era of owning his identity and the sentiment of “just being comfortable,” his brand ambassadorship with Ben Sherman, “an icon of British youth,” has developed into the perfect meeting of minds as the two find synergy in their present communication of style. “You can speak to anyone who’s English from my generation; we all wore white button-down Ben Sherman shirts, that was it. If you didn’t wear Ben Sherman, you were lacking. Similar to my dad and their generation. This has always been a staple of Britishness. It feels very nostalgic.”
Titled B by Ben Sherman, the latest campaign is “unabashedly confident, sporty, and bright,” as the brand details. Fashioned in an overall navy blue palette and cut with toasted caramel and mustard yellow tones, it’s a lux take on streetwear, designed in immaculate fabrics. For someone like Lovejoy, whose fashion history supports layering, it’s a collection that blends seamlessly with his style; sweatshirts, cardigans, and jackets all fundamental components of his layering. Though the timing would suggest this union to be relatively new, Lovejoy explains this was destiny years in the making.
After moving to New York in 2012, he found himself in the city’s rich nightlife scene in the midst of losing self-recognition. “I was this British kid. I was having a massive identity crisis. I quit music. I was trying to figure life out.” Shortly after starting a club night in an attempt to “get lots of Brits together and just recreate something that felt like home,” he met Ann Akiri, a representative of Ben Sherman who soon became a beacon of support amidst the chaos.
“From day one, we formed a great friendship; he is super stylish, charismatic, and incredibly talented,” Akiri tells me. She saw something in him all those years ago that remains a constant even in our current discussion. Beyond their “shared love of music and, of course, fashion,” she notes, he’s bold yet soft-spoken, mind in the clouds yet grounded to earth. “He exudes confidence and isn’t afraid to change it up. Everything he does, he does differently, and he does it his way with such style and grace. He is one of the nicest people in the business, and it’s been great to watch his meteoric rise while still being true to himself,” she says in admiration.
A little more than a decade later, her guidance and his introduction to the Ben Sherman family would be a relationship that shifted the trajectory of his career.
“More than any name, more than any brand, more than anything, it’s about the people,” he reflects on his kinship with the Ben Sherman team. “They supported me when I didn’t have anything. I was the new kid, DJing in dingy clubs in New York. Ben Sherman 2012 saw something in me, and ever since, there’s been this relationship of support.”
OVER THE COURSE of the following week, I began my day listening to Lovejoy’s OFFAIR: The Power of your Subconscious Mind Vol 1: SPACE. It’s a collection of binaural beats released at the beginning of 2022 that pull inspiration from astrological signs and the exploration of space. “All music is just sound waves,” he defines, leaning into the idea that the vibrations featured in this album can tap and heal different parts of your body. “So like the Root Chakra is 396 Hertz, and if you listen to music at that frequency, it can help heal your root chakra,” he suggests.
Though Lovejoy has managed to modernize these musical vibrations, interweaving soundbites from French engineer Jean-François Clervoy and astronaut Ron Garan Jr. as they illustrate the vastness of space, binaural beats are a practice dating back hundreds (on some accounts, thousands) of years, used in countries like India and Tibet. As farfetched as the idea might sound from his initial notes, we keep circling on the topic of music as therapy. Whether listening to the easing melodies of Grover Washington Jr.’s saxophone or the empowering lyrics of Beyoncé, music has always served as a method for unprescribed healing. He admits these might be “hippie ideas,” but suddenly, they don’t seem so obscure.
As I lay on the floor of my apartment cycling through the tracks, each named a different zodiac, I’m reminded of the story with his mom. Though time has erased the physicality of those moments, they remain rooted in Lovejoy’s experience with music. “I see myself in so many people now. I can’t leave this earth knowing that there are people here that haven’t fulfilled their potential. My friend Eric Lau once told me, ‘You failing to do music is denying people potential joy.’ I’ve never looked back ever since.”
Pauli The PSM Tour Dates
The Saucy Tour US
Nov 7 – Brooklyn, NY – Zone One
Nov 10 – Washington, DC – DC9
Nov 11 – Los Angeles, CA – The Orpheum (LA3C Festival)
Nov 12 – Atlanta, GA – Aisle 5
Nov 17 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
Nov 29 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
Dec 3 – Oakland, CA – The New Parish
The Saucy Tour UK/EU
April 3 – Glasgow, Scotland – SWG3 Glasgow
April 4 – Dublin, Ireland – The Workman’s Club
April 6 – Manchester, UK – Pink Room @ YES
April 8 – Bristol, UK – Exchange
April 9 – Birmingham, UK – O2 Academy Birmingham
April 10 – London, UK – Lafayette
April 12 – Antwerp, Belgium – Trix
April 13 – Paris, France – La Place
April 15 – Copenhagen, Denmark – Vega Small Hall
April 16 – Berlin, Germany – Säälchen
April 17 – Cologne – Yuca Club
April 19 – Rotterdam, Netherlands (MOMO Festival)
Atomic MC / DC for U2’s Sphere Vegas Residency
Oct 27 – Las Vegas, NV
Oct 28 – Las Vegas, NV
Nov 1 – Las Vegas, NV
Nov 3 – Las Vegas, NV
Nov 4 – Las Vegas, NV
Dec 1 – Las Vegas, NV
Dec 2 – Las Vegas, NV
Dec 6 – Las Vegas, NV
Dec 8 – Las Vegas, NV
Dec 9 – Las Vegas, NV
Dec 13 – Las Vegas, NV
Dec 15 – Las Vegas, NV
Dec 16 – Las Vegas, NV
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