Paulson grew up in Bemidji, Minnesota, but moved about 200 miles south to Minneapolis after graduating from high school and started playing with Man Sized Action, which released two records, Claustrophobia and Five Story Garage on Bob Mould's Reflex Records label. He made many friends in the Chicago-Minneapolis musical pipeline, touring with reputable producer/recording engineer Steve Albini. Through Albini, Paulson met David Grubbs and eventually worked with him on an album for his band, Bastro.
Paulson's career as a record producer didn't take off until he recorded Slint's now-legendary final album, Spiderland. The album was recorded in Chicago in only four days. Paulson and the band reportedly stayed up all night working to meet the deadline.
Since then, Paulson has worked on albums by Beck, Archers of Loaf, Dinosaur Jr., Polvo, US Maple, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Royal Trux, Superchunk, Rosebuds, Crooked Fingers, Mark Eitzel, Something For Kate, The Spinanes and many others representative of his diverse tastes in music.