Paul Dreux Smith is an American musician, composer, producer and engineer. He is a founding member of the cult band Dengue Fever (drums/percussion, mixing, producing) and the Musical Director of the popular storytelling podcast Strangers. He also works as a freelance producer and composer for many other people, creating original scores and mixes for creative and commercial projects around the country.
Paul’s first love was the bass. He moved to New Orleans after high school to study music and soak in the city's rich musical history. While in New Orleans, Paul had a roommate with a drum kit and he soon discovered the joy of playing drums, which soon became his main instrument. Later back in his native LA, Paul graduated from The Los Angeles Recording School and began working at the legendary Hollywood studio Skip Saylor Recording, where he worked with artists as diverse as Snoop Dogg, Julio Iglesias, DJ Quik, Henry Rollins, Raphael Saadiq, Xzibit, and many, many more.
In 2001, while working at Skip’s, Paul co-founded the band Dengue Fever with brothers Ethan and Zac Holzman, and a couple of years later as the band starting taking off, Paul quit his day job to work full-time with Dengue Fever, co-creating an original sound that blends many styles and traditions. “Informed by Cambodian pop, girl group, surf twang, Afro-polyrhythms, jazz, noir, and LA rock, the songs are intricately arranged and executed with subtlety and rigor,” said The Boston Globe in a glowing review of the band’s most recent record, The Deepest Lake [link]. “It’s really cool (…) spirited, impassioned stuff,” said Peter Gabriel of Dengue Fever when he signed a deal to release [distribute?] their music in non-US territories worldwide. Ray Davies of The Kinks raved about them on the Jules Holland Show, calling them “a cross between Blondie and Led Zeppelin.”
Drawing on his studio background, Paul has mixed every Dengue Fever record to date and first received a producing credit on the band’s third, best-selling, album, Venus on Earth. The band’s 2005 Cambodian tour became the subject of the documentary Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, of which The Guardian wrote “Dengue Fever are true originals. Fronted by Cambodian singer Chhom Nimol, these Los Angeles musicians aim to revive the western-influenced psychedelic rock and garage-surf styles that flourished in Phnom Penh in the 1960s and early 70s, before the Khmer Rouge moved in (…) The hour-long documentary by John Pirozzi is an entertaining mixture of travelogue and history lesson that is far superior to most such music films.” Dengue Fever’s music has been featured in a diverse range of film and TV projects from Jim Jarmusch’s “Broken Flowers” to “Weeds” to “The Hangover 3.”
Throughout his 16-year career with Dengue Fever, Paul has continued to freelance as a composer, producer and engineer, working closely with Tony Kaye, the six-time Grammy-nominated music video director & director of the feature film “American History X,” to score commercials directed by Kaye, among other projects. In 2014, Paul became the Musical Director of the hit storytelling podcast Strangers, and since 2015 he has created original scores for each new episode of the show, which he also mixes. He has also scored and mixed episodes of NPR’s hit podcast Invisibilia, as well as commercial campaigns for companies from Sony to Under Armour, to name but a few. On a never ending quest to create and capture beautiful moments in time, Paul is probably tinkering away in his studio as we speak. Tinker on!