Pauli Lovejoy Talks Style and Substance and His Recent Ambassadorship With Ben Sherman

Fresh off the back of performing with U2 in Las Vegas’ instantly-iconic Sphere, Pauli Lovejoy talks about creating safe spaces at his live shows and dressing like an intergalactic rude boy.

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Pauli Lovejoy is an artist hard to box in. Throughout his career, he’s worn many different hats, from drummer to DJ, music director to fashion muse. The list of artists he’s worked with reads like a fantasy: Damon Albarn and Gorillaz, Sampha, FKA twigs, Maggie Rogers and Harry Styles. Under the moniker Pauli The PSM, he performed around the world and released four critically acclaimed EPs. He was even the first musician to play at Las Vegas’ Sphere, a venue that captured the attention of the internet for its wild shape and intense visuals when it opened in September 2023.

Asked if the infamous Sphere is as impressive as it looks on social media, Lovejoy laughs. “[It’s] absolutely fucking insane. It makes no sense. It’s like when you’re looking at stuff through a virtual reality headset and it’s crazy, it’s that without the headset. It’s mind boggling.” Videos of Lovejoy performing in Vegas showcase this incredible energy, and comments on his social media posts praise his good vibes and the inclusive nature of his shows.

“Being genderqueer, being black and other, I think it’s important to feel seen. So many people come to my shows never feeling represented and I want to be able to represent those people that don’t feel seen or heard and give them that opportunity. I’ll invite people on stage and be like, ‘let’s dance together,’ or give someone the microphone and be like, ‘it’s your time to shine’,” Lovejoy, who uses he/they pronouns, says.

“Many people preach the idea of being inclusive, but they don’t know what it is to be inclusive. How many shows have you been to where someone actually invites you to become the designer, the writer, an actual part of the show, not just an audience member and observer? My thing is how am I gonna integrate you into my world because we’re in this together, this symbiotic relationship. There’s a magic in coexistence, I would literally not be here if it wasn’t for you and I need to pay respects to that at every opportunity possible.”

Connections, support — it’s all part of the gig for Lovejoy. He created a radio show, Flybrations Radio, to help build a closer relationship with his fans, and he loved seeing his own spinoff shows and content come out of that. Lovejoy is aware of the privileged role of artists in being able to share stories with the world, and they try to take advantage of that wherever possible. His DMs are always open (although, with such a busy schedule, it can be hard to keep on top of the inbox) and he’s always looking for ways to connect to fans.

“Having the opportunity to be seen and be heard, I think that’s the one thing we all yearn for, whether you’re creative or not, it’s a basic need of life. We all just want to be heard and seen and feel appreciated.

“If someone approaches me, I’m never the person who’s like ‘no don’t take photos’. I’m like ‘yes, let’s take photos, let’s mark this occasion. Let’s be able to talk about this in 10 years’ time.’ We’re alive, let’s experience it together. What a beautiful thing.”

Lovejoy’s inability to be put in a box is reflected in his style, which makes them the perfect partner for a brand like Ben Sherman. In fact, the two have a long history together, with Lovejoy first meeting Ann Akiri, current Vice President, PR & Brand Marketing, when he moved from London to New York. Lovejoy lived in New York for five years, creating London club experiences in the city. He met Akiri working with a number of different bands in the scene, and Akiri eventually approached Lovejoy to style some of the projects he was working on, and the relationship blossomed from there.

From Spring Street, where Ben Sherman had just set up shop down the road from Supreme, and people would sit on stoops trying to get caught by street photographers, to now, 10 years on with Lovejoy working on his own projects, he says it felt like the right time to work with Ben Sherman as a solo artist in his own right.

“There’s a real genuine relationship there and those relationships with real people are why I’m an ambassador for the brand. I believe in people and as long as those people are there and they stand for something, I am 100% behind it.”

Lovejoy’s style is influenced by a number of things. He’s inspired by Afrofuturism and rude boy style, originating in the 1970s, and heavy Jamaican influences from the Windrush generation.

“But when I’m home, I’m definitely more just trying to be cosy. So somewhere between cosy, intergalactic and rude boy — that’s me.”

Art, design and style are a huge part of Lovejoy’s live performances, where he encourages freedom and the opportunity to play. He knows his vision is folded into the overall experience; people see you before they hear you, and he wants to be able to present that holistic sensory package.

“I love the fact that you can create worlds with style, so I created this world of sci-fi, of [eccentricity]. I love being avant-garde. I love the idea of play — you can come to my show and feel like it’s a safe space to just play. We had this show in Chicago and it was a fan project where they’d suggested everyone wear a wig. I’m all for that. I had a wig, my band members had wigs and we all turned up with these amazing technicolor bright, wonderful different wigs. That’s what my shows are all about, coming and letting go and really feeling that escape.”

Lovejoy recounts first exploring Ben Sherman’s cool factor in school. Despite the strict uniform policy, Lovejoy still found ways to develop his own fashion sense. Doc Martens, Wallabees, Kickers — there were various options in the footwear spectrum, but for the white button-down shirt, it had to be Ben Sherman.

“That was the only way you could express yourself, through those small details. That’s what Ben Sherman is, the small details that make a big difference. That’s what life is. Small details make the biggest difference.”

Asked about his current favorite Ben Sherman piece, Lovejoy admits he can’t steer away from a classic.

“My favourite piece would be an Oxford shirt because that’s what I grew up on, that’s what everyone grew up on. It’s a staple, if you don’t have one in your wardrobe you’re lacking. Is that what the kids say? Lacking?”

The Ben Sherman Oxford is a classic, and for Lovejoy, it’s paired with other signature wardrobe pieces, like a trench coat as ‘armour,’ particularly when the weather’s bad.

“It doesn’t brighten up your day or anything, but it makes you feel protected.”

As big as 2023 has been for Lovejoy, he’s gearing up for an even bigger 2024. He’s back in Las Vegas early on in the year for extended dates with U2, before heading to Austin in March for SXSW. Then Lovejoy kicks off his own tour, The Saucy Tour, in the UK and Europe in Glasgow at the beginning of April.

That’s only the beginning of 2024 and it’s reflective of Lovejoy’s appreciation for collaboration and networking. With so many projects in motion, it’s quite a feat for the artist to stay true to his vision.

“My dad always said you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything. It’s probably actually a famous quote, it’s probably Gandhi or someone, but he always said it like he wrote it,” laughs Lovejoy. For the record, it isn’t known where the quote originated from, but if anyone can say a quote like they invented it, it’s your dad.

“I genuinely believe it though, I don’t take on projects that I don’t believe in. I don’t work with people I don’t like. Life’s too short, you have to love it.”

Lovejoy lives by the Hell Yeah or No principle from CD Baby founder Derek Sivers; if he’s not sure about a project, he walks away.

“I don’t want to take that blessing from someone else. I know that, for me, I need to give it my everything or else it’s not worth doing it.”

Browse and shop the full Pauli Lovely x Ben Sherman x collection here, and stay on top of Pauli Lovejoy’s tour dates here.

Pauli Lovejoy’s Upcoming performances:
US and The Saucy Tour UK/EU
February 2 – March 2 – Las Vegas, NV – Sphere
March 10 – 15 – Austi, TX – SXSW
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)

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