ABOVE: PAPERTWIN. PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK GOETHALS
The members of synth-pop trio Papertwin haven't quit their day jobs yet, but they're one step closer: they've taken their homespun recordings to the studio with their new EP Vox Humana. The Brooklyn-based trio formed back in 2009 and just released their newest music earlier this week—produced by Abe Seiferth (Yeasayer, Eleanor Friedberger, Turning Machine, DFA's Plantain Studios). The result is dreamy, dark, and ethereal music with a lot of synth and homages to New Wave. The throwback sound of the EP covers a gamut of influences, from classic rock to sci-fi and shoegaze, to an effect that's at once sultry, sexy, and trancey.
We spoke with Papertwin about their diverse influences, writing songs about awkward human stuff and the interesting church rock show they played.
CURRENT CITY: Brooklyn, NY
BAND MEMBERS: Max Decker, Nick Shopa, Francis Cardinale
SEEING DOUBLE AND BECOMING PAPERTWIN: Max Decker: I was doing some art that involved large paintings of monochromatic figures and oftentimes they were posed in mirror images. It kind of just grew out of that.
DAY JOBS: Decker: We do. We try not to, but I do. I make jeans, denim and stuff.
Nick Shopa: I tune pianos.
Francis Cardinale: I work on sets for photography. I do prop-styling and set-building. That kind of thing.
SENSE OF RELEASE: Decker: We all like to play music, and we didn't really have an overarching theme when we decided to start off with the project. I start off a song at home on my computer, press record and hope that it's not crap. Then I'd send it to these guys, and they'd edit and filter out some of the stuff in it. We would go back and forth a lot. We would then have enough and try to make a recording.
ON RECORDING WITH ABE SEIFERTH: Shopa: It was great working with Abe. He was really familiar with the technology—he's a synthesizer expert himself. Not only that, but he was a great tie-breaker for us when the three of us would come across a decision that we were stuck on. He could easily step in and offer his opinion, and we would go with that. After all, he is a producer, and what the hell are we working with him for if we're not going to listen to his input on things? He really brought out the best in us so far.
LYRICAL INSPIRATION: Decker: That's a good question. Instead of being really narrative, I put together a collage of different things. I guess, as soon as I realized that I didn't have anything to say, it was very freeing. You could talk about everyday stuff: the awkwardness of being human is enough to keep me going. It's more of those things and not really narrative.
INFLUENCES ACROSS THE BOARD: Decker: We all have our own influences. For myself, I grew up listening to The Cure and New Order. I don't really listen to a lot of music now. It sounds like I'm a dick, but I don't listen to a lot of music because I do a lot of my own now. At the end of the day, I'd rather just listen to my own music. I'm always pulling from stuff I heard as a kid, like The Cure.
Shopa: As for me, I kind of come from a synth background. Depeche Mode is a big influence of mine, but at the same time, The Beatles are a huge influence of mine. I try to find a place between the two and come up with whatever it is that comes out.
Cardinale: I also can say, collectively that a lot of soundtrack music has been a big influence for us. I oftentimes find myself listening to Top 40 rap. [laughs] Sometimes I get into the music. I play drums and like the sequencing. I also know that Pedro The Lion has a great drummer—Max introduced me to him. He makes a lot out of his music.
ROCKING OUT AT CHURCH: Decker: We played in a church one time and realized it was a hardcore Christian organization.
Shopa: We knew something was a little off when we got there and realized there wasn't alcohol allowed.
Cardinale: When they got in touch with us about it, they promoted it as "we're going to put on a concert in this cool place." It didn't really turn out that way. It was fun playing in that space, and it was cool. We were desperate. [laughs]
Decker: We should have seen the signs a little earlier. It seemed cool until it wasn't. [laughs]
MUSICAL GROWTH: Decker: I didn't really start writing songs all that long before we started recording. Just the technique of writing a song and the skills of putting something coherent together has hopefully come a long way. We just learned how to cut out a lot of the shit we don't want in the recordings. It's been mostly the process of taking away rather than adding. That's been the hardest process for us as a band—figuring out what the simplest form of something can be.
Cardinale: I think we've learned to find a good way to work together. It seems like we each have our own places now, as opposed to before when it was all jumbled. We just have a better process.
PAPERTWIN'S VOX HUMANA IS OUT NOW. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, PLEASE VISIT ITS FACEBOOK PAGE.