An extraordinary, infectious and transcendent dance-pop/electronica collaboration by Paul Natural (aka Brooklyn based composer, artist and producer Gabriel Stanley) and soulful, smooth voiced emerging vocalist Dominic Augustine, the sonically trippy and explosive “On the Rise” is a powerful showcase for their unique individual talents and inspirational on a number of personal and collective levels.
Making his first venture into music after years of success as a runway model (registered with the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency), fashion designer and photographer (and founder, CEO and content curator of Nickoli August), Dominic’s lyrics confidently declare that he has what it takes to conquer yet a new form of creative expression and become a powerful influencer. Over Natural’s hypnotic, mood-swinging (from atmospheric to propulsive) synth energy, he sings in his cool falsetto: “I’m a rising star/F*** living legend/Touch your head when you get it/I’m trying to get into your mind/Show you something you can’t find.” After taking his boundless ambitions beyond “the top of the world drifting into the galaxy,” a few verses later he shares his inner reality and drive: “There’s a burning desire inside my head/True expectations/Afraid of what’s mine/What I aspire to be/No one else can see.”
The multi-talented artist, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Haiti in the early 80’s, is not simply setting his intention with a mindset of boundless courage and ambition. He’s also by extension lifting the hearts and spirits of others who may have great talent but are perhaps crippled by doubts, setbacks and low self-esteem. Soaring in synch with Natural’s jubiliant electronic magic and invention, he’s imparting the reality that if he can declare himself a living legend out of the gate, the least you can do is dig within yourself and find that roaring beast as well.
The timing of the release of “On the Rise” coincides, of course, with the U.S. getting back to normal (or at least a “new normal”) after a year of fear, pain, suffering, lockdown and economic challenges that hit the music industry particularly hard. So “On the Rise” can easily be appropriated as an anthem for our era where the human spirit has the chance to bounce back from the edge of despair – and hopefully not simply survive but thrive. When Dominic sings, “I’m trying to get into your mind/Show you something you can’t find/The sun is shining on you,” he’s not only sharing his intentions as a creative artist, but saying to the world that if you dig deep enough, you can rise above these days of darkness – and embrace and conquer brighter days ahead.
Helping bring home Natural and Dominic’s empowering message is a stunning computer generated video featuring animation by Luke Moellman that uniquely combines a dark dystopian landscape with a turbocharged car flying – a la the De Lorean from “Back to the Future” above and beyond the dark images, with beams of smoke and light pouring down to reflect the buoyancy of the human spirit. One of the cool set pieces of the video is a sandy island depicted as an oasis in a gloomy city, with pink brush and palm trees and a cylindrical building beaming neon pink lights. The visuals match the high tech vibe of Natural’s music and the soaring hopes of Dominic – and by extension, the rest of us – as we overcome the darkest of times.
Paul Natural and Dominic Augustin bring fascinating individual backgrounds to this fresh and invigorating collaboration. Gabriel Stanley’s idea for the Paul Natural project was sparked in 2018 with a collaboration with Cautious Clay. His 2020 debut release “Swept” ft. Kandy Apple Redd (George Clinton’s granddaughters Tonysha Nelson and Patavian Lewis, who are members of legendary funk ensemble Parliament Funkadelic) was sparked when Stanley joined Miss Velvet and The Blue Wolf and P-Funk on their 2018 European tour. He has also produced Zoe Moss and Xoller.
In addition to being a model and entrepreneur, Dominic Augustin is a content creator who specializes in photography ranging from Castings and Street style to fashion still life and editorials. Inspired by his exposure to different cultures growing up, his specialty is combining the fashion digital world with his favorite art forms. Being inspired by music, film and television allows him to tap into many different emotions, which he incorporates into his brand and designs. Dominic has assisted some of the biggest brands such as Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, Tory Burch, Coach and many more during each season of NYFW shows. He believes as a visionary it is imperative that you understand different individual styles and trends throughout the seasons.
“My aspirations as a musical artist are to inspire others to do what feels right in their hearts,” he says. “Follow every passion you have or as many as you can to the end of the earth. Everyone has a chance to follow their dreams and I want people around the globe to do just that. I have a voice and through music I know everyone has the possibility to hear it. We have all been beaten down and discouraged so I want to uplift and show people that they aren’t alone in whatever they are dealing with. Someone has been there, if you just turn on the radio and listen you'll see how it speaks to you.”