Interview: Paula Boggs talks education, 'girl power,' her own production company and more
Paula Boggs Band

Musician Paula Boggs is definitely a jill-of-all-trades, and is the epitome of "girl power." She has two degrees—one in international relations and one in law. She worked in the corporate world for quite some time and as she says while talking to us that "many people have life seasons," and hers "is no different in that sense." 

In a press bio from HIP Video Promo it's noted that she served as an Officers in the U.S. Military, she also was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, and a partner at the first of Preston Gates & Ellis, including her time as Vice President at Dell Corporation, as well as Executive Vice President, General Council and Secretary of the Starbucks Corporation. She achieved all of these roles well before she decided to pursue music professionally. 

Also noted in her bio, Boggs is the founder of her own media company, Boggs Media LLC, which manages her music, speaking and other business activities. She has released two full-length albums, and her recent third album released on Sept. 15 titled Elixer - The Soulgrass Sessions. This album features she and her band's remake of the hit and Grammy-Award winning single, "Holocene" by the artist Bon Iver. Check out the cover in their music video provided at the top of this article. Find out more about this fascinating woman who has achieved so much, and what she's doing with music now. 

AXS: You have two degrees that aren't associated with music. What led to your passion for creating and performing music? 

Paula Boggs: Music was central in my life before “international relations,” my college major or law.  I started playing guitar and writing music at age 10, inspired by the folk music of musicians like Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan I heard in Catholic school and the gospel music of my mother’s church. In high school I found myself at a fork in the road, pondering seriously whether to pursue a “music” or “academic” route after graduation.  The “academic” route won out and over time music increasingly took a back seat to other things until it resurged over a decade ago.

AXS: You're a woman who defines the epitome of "girl power" and then have accomplished many feats in the military and corporate world. Why did you decide to cease those professions, and pursue music? 

PB: Many people have life seasons and my life is no different in that sense.  There was a time to be a military officer, a time to be a lawyer and corporate executive and now it’s time for me to be a musician. I left the military with joy, gratefulness and a sense of completion. I feel the same way about my life as a practicing lawyer and corporate executive.

AXS: How did your years in the military and the corporate world help you with forming your own company, Boggs Media Company LLC? 

PB: In my experience success in the military and corporate world hinges in large measure on being prepared, getting along with a diverse range of people, knowing how to read people and dealing successfully with failure. Running Boggs Media LLC requires much of the same.

AXS: What all went into the writing and production of your third full-length album? 

PB: My goodness!  Let’s start with the writing piece of it.  Across the 11 tracks of “Elixir, The Soulgrass Sessions” there are basically 3 categories of songs.  I wrote 9 of the songs.  Our lead guitarist and banjo player Mark Chinen wrote the instrumental “Two Daughters,” and of course Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver wrote our cover of “Holocene.”  Of the 9 songs I wrote, earlier versions of  “Peel the Charade ” and  “Original Sin” appeared on our 2010 debut album “A Buddha State of Mind.”

Different inspirations led to writing the remaining 7 songs and they range from the love song “Gypsy Sapphire” to honoring the church members murdered in Charleston, SC two years ago, “Benediction,” to saying farewell to Santa Fe, NM “Rear View Mirror.” For production and engineering, we returned to Grammy©-winning Trina Shoemaker, who produced and engineered our 2015 album, and recorded “Elixir, The Soulgrass Sessions” at Robert Lang Studios just outside Seattle. The combination of Trina Shoemaker and Robert Lang Studios really helped us achieve an acoustic “live” sound throughout the album.

AXS: Do you plan the release of your albums, or just go with the flow? Do the themes come to you quickly, or do they manifest themselves through other ways? 

PB: When and how to release an album really is influenced by a number of factors.  It starts with amassing enough good original cohesive material.  That takes time. We also want songs on any Paula Boggs Band album to sound like they fit enough with each other and like “Paula Boggs Band”  — consistent with “Seattle-Brewed Soulgrass.” Our first version of “Get Along Song” did not make the cut of our last album “Carnival of Miracles” because even though folks liked and danced to it when we played it live, it really didn’t fit with other songs on that album.  When Isaac Castillo joined the band with his double-bass and Hawaiian vibe, we then had the right vibe for “Elixir."

AXS: Why did you and your band decide to create your own production value on the classic single,"Holocene"? 

PB: Once we decided to cover a song on “Elixir, The Soulgrass Sessions” the question became of course, which one? On our two earlier studio albums and live album, “Songs of Protest and Hope,” we covered songs from the 1960s and decided as much as we love that decade musically, we weren’t going back! We hoped to cover a more recent song and for any cover we do, we try to bring something different and hopefully revelatory.

Bon Iver’s song is cinematic and well known even though many listeners are less familiar with its lyrics.The original also relied heavily on electronic instrumentation. We saw an opportunity to “Soulgrass” “Holocene” through acoustic instrumentation and production that facilitates the listener hearing every lyric.  We also thought its mysteriously beautiful lyrics, which allow the listener to travel a personal journey through them, fit perfectly with the overall themes and vibe of “Elixir."