What do you do?
That’s a surprisingly harder question to answer than I realized once I actually started to answer this. The main thing I do is run an indie record label (IAMSOUND) based in LA - we’re a small boutique label which has been fortunate enough to have bits of mainstream success. Besides that, we have an internal marketing agency that works with a lot of brands doing experiential marketing, music consulting and marketing and things like that, as well as music supervision, artist management (both musical and visual) and more.
Where did you spend your childhood?
I spent my childhood all over. I lived in Taiwan, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Georgia. I spent 10 years in Georgia though, so I guess that one counts more than the others for my childhood. My town was called Jonesboro, just south of Atlanta, and we were famous for being where Gone With The Wind was based. We also had the Chick-Fil-A family as residents, so our town was as Southern as you could imagine.
IAMSOUND is one of our favorite labels! Tell us what makes the label unique.
Thanks! I think it’s really a combination of the fact that we don’t sign or release very much, therefore allowing us to fully dedicate ourselves to each release as well as be super picky, and our curatorial sense. I think that while music is the most important part, we love all of our artists to be ones that have a strong sense of artistic self and creativity, which is why many of our artists direct their own videos, create their own artwork and things like that. We love finding creative geniuses who have a core of pop sensibility but know how to push the limits enough to make things interesting.
Where is the best place you've ever visited?
Probably Vietnam. I went there a few years ago on vacation and it was so fascinating, a real mixture of modern technology and old world charm, Communist soldiers standing everywhere and street cart noodles on every block.
What is one thing we would never guess about you?
That I’m a massive sports fan, I guess? I love music, art, books and all of that stuff, but there’s a part of me that is passionate about sports, especially football, that most people who first meet me would probably have no idea about.
If you only had 12 hours to hang out in LA with a friend who has never been to California, where would you go?
Wow. I guess it would be mainly a food tour, since I think that the food scene in LA is really unrivaled. We’d have to hit Korean BBQ, taco trucks and Szechuan food in SGV (two meals and a snack right there! 12 hours). And then besides the food, we’d sprinkle in a visit to the Griffith Park Observatory and I guess we’d have to go to the beach, even though I’m not much of a beach person myself normally.
LA is a movie town... What is your favorite film?
I honestly don’t think I could pick a favorite film. I really enjoy watching movies but I’ve never been a “film person”, if that makes any sense. I admit that I’m not super well read into the classic films, like all those old French and German films that my cinema buff friends know super well, or classic this and classic that. I still watch as much as I can but I would never consider myself an expert. I’m more of a book person. Maybe High Fidelity is my favorite film? Such a great mix of music nerddom, wit and weirdness.
What is some style advice you could give to anyone, anywhere in the world?
Simpler is better. My outfits are never very complicated, and usually not super colorful, unless the outfit is mostly dark - then I a lot of times I like to have one colorful or fun piece to stand out (for example, I have one vintage Guess/Marciano button up that is not my normal style but when I mix it with my normal dark outfits, it pops out so much more than wearing it with pieces that compete with it). I wear a lot of black and I guess that might be the best advice - you can never go wrong with black.
Tell us about your Orient Flight!
What I like most about the watch I got is the simplicity of its looks. It looks like a no frills black watch but it actually has a lot underneath it, and of course black goes with every outfit.
If you could go anywhere, any time past/future/present - where would you go and why?
Probably 100 AD or so in the Roman Empire. The height of the Roman Empire, militarily, culturally and every other -ly you could think of probably, as well as the very beginnings of Christianity. Sounds like an amazing time to live in, where things were advanced and stable enough, for the most part, with rule of law, culture, etc. but also weird enough with upheavals in religion and philosophy to make things interesting.
Paul Tao runs IAMSOUND, a label and marketing agency, who is known for their hits with Florence + the Machine, Charli XCX, Banks, MS MR, Lord Huron and more. For more info, you can go to iamsoundrecords.com. Follow Paul at @paultao on instagram, @paultao on Twitter!