Rondell Paul interviewed for Behind the Music

Behind the Music featuring Rondell Paul

You may already know about the biggest street party on Earth, Carnival. It features soca, sun, food, friends and perpetual dancing in the streets. Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is an annual event held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. As we continue to take our culture to the world, we will feature the hardworking individuals and teams that tirelessly push the industry behind the scenes to help create this unforgettable experience every year. This is, Behind the Music.

For our first segment we wanted to feature the man behind the visuals of the music you love. You might ask, “Visuals for an audio experience? What do they mean?” If you can’t guess, music needs an introduction and Rondell creates that first visual point of contact, the cover art.

Rondel Paul. The Man behind Soca Music's cover art
Rondell Paul and Royalty Club: Behind the Music

Radial: OK Rondell. Plain talk, bad manners, who is Rondell Paul and what is The Royalty Club?

Rondell: I am a Trinidadian entrepreneur, creative and philanthropist.  I cofounded The Royalty Club with Jarrod Placide-Raymond, Aaron Rocke and Yvan Mendoza as a design agency specialising in Web Design & Development, Print Design, Brand Development and Event Management. I currently direct our digital experience projects. With 11-plus years in the industry, Royalty Club has carved out a strong niche in digital media and marketing. Through my passion for design and technology, I hope to make it easier for us to interact with digital devices. Whether it be mobile phones, computers, television and in the future: mixed reality (augmented and virtual).

I hope to make it easier for us to interact with digital devices, be it mobile phones, computers, television and in the future: mixed reality (augmented and virtual).

Radial: Wow! You’re a well rounded designer then? You cover all the bases, how did you get started?

Rondell: My journey in media began in 2005 as a graphic designer at the Express Production House. This was the internal creative department for One Caribbean Media – which was then called Caribbean Communications Network. I moved to Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG) in 2007 and had the opportunity to nurture my digital design ability.

Together with Andrew Manswell Jr., we created what is now the standard for media houses in the Caribbean – digital video archive, live streams of news broadcasts and national events and social media pages.

Most recently I took on the role of digital designer at IUGO Digital Media (a subsidiary of Lonsdale Saatchi and Saatchi). At IUGO, I spearhead the creative processes behind digital engagement campaigns at the agency. One of the craziest yet most fulfilling projects I have worked on to date is producing the live stream broadcast of T&T Carnival in 2010. It was one of CNMG’s most demanding endeavors at the time but it was worth it. We received messages from citizens abroad expressing their appreciation for being able to see the beauty of Carnival live.

One of the craziest yet most fulfilling projects I have worked on to date is producing the live stream broadcast of T&T Carnival in 2010

Radial: From design to live streaming, how do you do it? Can you walk us through your creative process?

Rondell: Well, when I create cover art, I always start with the song. I listen to it a couple times and I try to find a way to connect. Once that connection is made, the general concept for the design materialises itself naturally to me. I see the end product in my head.

Now, to go from a mental visual to an actual physical product, I start with the typeface design in Adobe Illustrator. From there, I move to Adobe Photoshop where I add more elements (with each layer generating more depth) as the design comes alive.

Sometimes I share these breakdowns on my Snapchat and Instagram Stories. When I design covers it’s not just to put some fancy text on a pretty background. I really try to set the listener in the right frame of mind to receive the music. Design is not just graphics anymore, it’s about creating an experience for your audience.

That’s why every year I do something new to keep pushing the bar. One way to do this was when I pitched an animated cover for the Sando Riddim to Kasey of Precision Productions. It’s a minimal cover but some subtle things make it one of my favorites. For instance, the fireworks used is actual fireworks footage from an event held in San Fernando. I adjusted the bursts so it pops in time with the music.

via GIPHY

When I design covers it’s not just to put some fancy text on a pretty background, I really try to set the listener in the right frame of mind to receive the music. Design is not just graphics anymore, it’s about creating an experience for your audience.

Radial: Jeez Rondell, that cover art is AMAZING! What do you do outside of the carnival season?

Rondell: Outside of Carnival, it’s business as usual. The work continues with brand development, UI/UX work for web and mobile development projects. I also have event promotional artwork and a couple personal projects scattered in between. I can’t share anything new right now but I can say that some cover artwork for 2018 Carnival will have an alternate reality to them.

Radial: Alright, fair enough. We’ll harass you for a sneak peek another time. What advice would you give to people who are interested in getting started in the industry?

Rondell: Find a mentor. Be it a teacher, another artist locally or even a connection with someone online. When you do this, you tap into experience beyond your years as well as insights into the industry beyond your knowledge. Do not look at it from a design perspective alone.

There really is no limit to how much you can learn. In our digital age there’s little to no barrier that prevents you from accessing information to learn more. The more you learn, the more your design abilities grow. You find yourself able to execute new design techniques and in turn that helps you to define your own design style.

Find a mentor even if you don’t think you do, be it a teacher, another artist locally or even making a connection with someone online.

Lastly, learn how to run a business. Especially if you intend on freelancing. As a freelancer, you are the CEO, the accountant and the designer. As much Photoshop tips and tricks you pick up, you should also understand how to develop contracts and learn best practices for invoicing. Treat it as if you were running your own an ad agency.

Radial: That is extremely true Rondell, I hope the right people heed those wise words. On behalf of the Radial Team we wanted to thank you for sharing your time with us and the readers.

All the best to you brother!

You can view Rondell’s cover art collection here: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/coversbyrc/

Bonus: We created a playlist with the songs to match Rondell’s cover art on Radial. We hope you enjoy!

Playlist for Rondell Paul Behind the Music
Behind the Music Rondell Paul Playlist
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