Long hair, a beard and an estimated two-feet taller than me, my good friend Paul Vink sits next to me as we get ready to record this podcast interview. I met Paul in high school, and we’ve become closer friends throughout those four years and continued through college. When I met him, he was in our high school choir and band, and he sure could sing.
Prior to meeting him and seeing his talents on display, I would be hard-pressed to find someone who I personally knew who could match that talent. He could do Mickey Mouse impressions, raise his voice to the heights of Axl Rose and drop it to lower than Johnny Cash. At that point, however, I did not know he would be going into recording his own music.
Flash-forward to freshman year of West Chester University, and I was able to see some of his songwriting firsthand and watch him record before we’d hit up Chick-fil-A at Sykes Student Union. It was then that I delved into his SoundCloud repertoire and found a growing trove of treasure.
Paul took his name and flipped the first letter of each to create his stage name, Vaul Pink. He plays and writes mostly alternative music, along with rock and coffee shop style tunes. “Little Rain” was the first bigger release. “It was one of those songs that when I put it out, I was really proud of,” Vink said in our interview.
The relaxing strumming of what I learned was a guitar with the four bottom strings muted, not a ukelele. As we spoke about the content to unwrap in this piece, Paul began unraveling his intention behind the message.
The just-under-two-minute piece revolves around the idea of how with age comes pessimism. This line specifically takes listeners to that message, “my father when it rains, says oh, what a miserable day.” Vink spoke about that line, saying, “My dad had said that when I was a kid, and I used to not like it because I loved the rain.” He went on to explain how he saw the contrast of his father and himself as a child and their viewpoints on the rain. Truly a powerful insight into the innocence of a child compared to adults with a different looking glass on the world.
Speaking of a looking glass, my favorite piece of Paul’s so far is “Looking Glass Pond,” the single he released just prior to recording his debut album. The craft and words of this piece emanate a genuine emotional attachment.
“I see the world through a kaleidoscope shattered in triangle patterns of blue and green,” Paul sings in the chorus backed by his own harmonies. Paul’s description of this song was one of letting go of the past. He said he had been stuck in a time that he couldn’t seem to move away from. The song offered a realization into that “funk” he had been buried in for some time.
I remember the night Paul shared with me that song before he released it. It reverberates as powerfully now as it did on that night when I first listened. The guitar solo culminates in a climb to the emotionally-charged piece. On his walks by a local pond, Paul noticed the serenity of the water and the idea just rolled out.
My personal experience with realizing Paul’s true songwriting talent would come in my freshman year of college. During one of Paul’s sessions (before we set out to Chick-fil-A again), I asked Paul if he would want to help me bring a song idea I had to life. This ended up becoming a regular thing as we ended up recording eight songs together, and we continue to do so. The second song we recorded was called “Bake Your Cake.” I did not have an idea yet how I wanted it to go musically; I just showed the lyrics to Paul, and he took off.
His fluency with the piano was as prevalent as ever in that moment as he danced across the keys to create a magnificent solo, which closed out the piece. It was at that recording that I think I truly understood the potential Paul held in his hands and mind. I couldn’t help but laugh in awe as he tore up a nearly three-minute-long solo to the mic.
Paul released his debut album “Where Are We” earlier this year. When asked about its contents, Paul described it as coming to him following his writing of “Looking Glass Pond.” He would regularly sit outside with a ukulele and play whatever came to him. Eventually, he decided to see how they would sound if he made them into finished works. Months later, he had his debut album.
The album contains an acoustic compilation, and as he described it, it sounds like “coffee shop” material. In my opinion, this was a strong effort by Paul, and the tracks continue to reverberate. “Constant Fear” and “I Remember” headline my favorites of the eight-track debut as they seem to encompass the ultimate feel of this compilation.
Soon after, Paul set out to record for his follow-up album. In the interview, Paul sounded excited for this next release. He said there will be more songs, more guitars and more everything. The more than an hour’s worth of Vaul Pink original content is set to release on Jan. 6, 2021 and should be another powerful swing by Paul in the world of music.
Paul’s career is only just beginning, but he is only going to get better as new techniques are explored and his creativity continues to grow with the experience of life. I am confident that one day, people will look back on this article as the first of many written about the surging star Vaul Pink.
Joseph Gill is a second-year English writings major. JG923276@wcupa.edu