Interview | Papadosio

By: Meghan Bender

For the live electronic jam act Papadosio, the word of 2012 was momentum. Last year brought the introduction of Papadosio to the west coast, the growth of their festival- Rootwire, and the release of their long anticipated third album T.E.T.I.O.S. They recently rang in 2013 to a full house at The National in Richmond and are about to embark on the Future Forest tour, including a few dates with jam veterans Umphrey's McGee. The band is showing no signs of stopping, so we caught them on one of their rare weeks off to talk about the new album and what 2013 has in store for them.

JamBase: What was your vision for this album when you started it two and a half years ago?

Sam Brouse (keys/vocals): I had been waiting a very long time to work with everyone in the studio, so the whole process was very exciting. We knew the album would consist of many songs that we already played live, but we really wanted to create a fluid piece of art. I have always been obsessed with cohesive albums, and we all agreed that this would be a continuous album, much like Magreenery.

You went about making this in a really unconventional way. Why did you choose to record in a home studio?

Anthony Thogmartin (Guitar/Samples/Vox): In a home studio environment, there is no pressure to finish things quickly, you’re on your own time. We completely scrapped some songs, and recorded some other songs literally weeks before the album’s completion. In your own studio there is no engineer changing how you want to sound, no producer telling you how the songs should be arranged, you get to call the shots, and the end result is a completely pure album as no one influenced the bands decisions. This is PURE Papadosio.

Photo by Brian Hockensmith
How has your decision to move to Asheville played into your creative process?

Billy Brouse (Keys/Synth/Vox): I think Asheville has a calming property to it. Being surrounded by mountains definitely helps to calm and inspire you, I think we take advantage of that as much as we can. It's also nice to have such a vibrant community of artists like Asheville has, always nice to have like minded people to unwind with. Anthony: The South seems to be a little slower paced than the North. Asheville is also full of artists and free spirits. It’s an easy town to lay low and be yourself.

With this album comes the debut of Rootwire Records. What was the motivation for that and the vision for where you want to take it?

Anthony: Rootwire is an example of an ideal way of life, holding creativity as a sacred pursuit. So we figured why not fly that flag? We also wanted to begin this label so those that know about Rootwire and us will know the quality of all the music that gets released under its namesake.

The new album is titled “To End the Illusion of Separation”... of what?

Anthony: Between all things. One could write novels about this topic. We are obviously all connected in a huge network of intrinsic and interdependent energies and happenings. What we do to others we do to ourselves, what we put out we take in. All of the world outside of human existence seems to know these things inherently, and it is time for humans to consciously accept this essential and elementary understanding. So we decided to artistically represent this in the form of each song having a piece of visual art associated with it, breaking down the separation between visual and auditory creations.

Photo by August J
Papadosio has always created genre-bending songs. The new album crosses over many different styles... Which directions are you most excited to explore?

Rob McConnell (Bass/Vox): Anything direction that our hearts desire. We all play music because we love it, and if it’s boring or stale to us it’s time to move on. I’m not saying what we’re doing now is stale, but I think we’ve been close to that place before.

Anthony: We have been considering going the “world music” route next, its a silly name for a genre, but we would like to begin incorporating traditional styles from all over the world into our next endeavor.

Sam: We pretty much have a clean slate now in terms of what we do next and i think we all share a “we can do anything” mentality about music. I am excited to expand our comfort zone.

Your music is heavily electronic, but when an audience sees you all up there playing instruments its hard to tell where the digital sounds are coming from. What role does Ableton play in your live performance?

Sam: Ableton is a very important part of our show. It sets the tempo and a lot of the electronic drums are generated in Ableton. We are learning all the time about Ableton, Anthony can pretty much figure anything out on it, it's very intuitive. All my synth sounds are generated through Ableton and plugins, however, i would like to be more analog in the future. I was very inspired when i saw LCD Soundsystem because it seemed as though every synth noise and drum was accounted for on stage with hardware. I really like having impressive instruments on stage because they not only look cool, they inspire me to play better.

Still Image from "The Sum" Video
You recently made a music video for “The Sum”. This was done in-house. What else do you guys handle in-house?

Anthony: Musically we do it all, minus the mastering. We used to do all the promo and booking and all of the other things that make a tour work within the band as well, but now we have some outside help, which is great. When it comes to graphic design and things of that nature, a lot of those types of things are still done in-house, but we have a lot of help with that in the form of wildly talented friends who are visual artists.

How have you been able to maintain the grassroots, independent approach as you grow to a nationally touring band?

Mike Healy (drums): We have always stayed true to being a grassroots band over the past 6 years. From the beginning, signing to a major label was not appealing to us at all. We wanted to keep it in the fam and do it all ourselves. In college, I learned so much about how major labels take so much of your earnings and we wanted to do it the hard long and slow way of growing our fanbase, because it is much more rewarding for us. We have always stuck to our hearts and created music that we personally wanted to listen to and play for people and never create what sells or is popular. We can’t really stand most popular music because it all sounds the same. So with that mindset, we have toured constantly and through this we have gathered an incredibly dedicated fanbase who are doing week long runs with us, which is incredibly amazing.

Jason Takahashi
What message did you want to send to your fans with the addition of Jason Takahashi (on visuals) to the band?

Anthony: I think we wanted Jason to bring another element to our message, which he has done beautifully. The visuals help round out what we are trying to say with our music, and they also help to make the show a more involved experience. i think they help connect the audience to the music in a big way.

You’ve been collaborating with visual artists for the new album; when can we expect to see you collaborating with other musical artists? Any plans in the works?

Sam: There is nothing in the works formally, however we all have fantasies about it. I have always thought it would be amazing to do an album as another band that is really just like 4 bands all recording at the same time. It would be a logistical nightmare, but it would be so much fun...block out a 4 month period and just go nuts in the studio. In terms of live performance, we collaborate all the time with sit-ins, but i have always loved how Pink Floyd would take an auxiliary musician around, to fill in the parts that physically could not be done by the band. I want to tour with string players, a choir, and brass...I think the more instruments we can make work, the better, because people deserve good live music, not just a loud sound system playing a song in Arrangement view.

On 12.21.12 you played a very special Earth Night show, something that grew out of a vision that Jason had years ago at Skidmore college. Can you tell me a little bit more about that and the significance of that date to you guys?

Jason Takahashi (Visuals): I was a Government major at Skidmore and I got really interested in the various ‘political philosophers’ that seem to pop up every so often and change history. They weren’t presidents or policy makers - but rather strange people who were a little bit ahead of their time and weren’t recognized till later down the road.

Later on, I met my adviser Dr. Patricia Ferraioli and we dove into a study of American Indian Politics and Philosophy. That’s when I really started to gain momentum towards Earth Night. For my senior thesis, I was studying the constitution of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) as well as recent First Nation history and wanted to host an event to bring everyone together and talk about what I had learned - as well as celebrate it - because what I had discovered for myself I thought could be useful for up and coming generations searching for a deeper connection to our collective human roots. What the Haudenosaunee taught me was that not only did ‘democracy’ exist on this land before the Declaration of Independence, but that it existed in a fine balance that respected the connectedness of all life on this planet - something I thought the political processes of today were seriously lacking. I believe in general, we are missing a lot of what it means to be human at this time but that it's not out of reach in this lifetime, to remember our place here on Earth as well as in the greater universe. Ultimately, I think this is what all the prophecy about 2012 was about, but that is up to us to make it a reality.

In regards to the date, 12/21/12 was kind of a big thing for most of us for a quite sometime. I know Sam started listening to Terence McKenna at a ridiculously young age, studying the time-wave-zero and I-Ching. Similarly, when I was in college I learned that the last time a huge global unification/meditation event guided by this type of information and energy was organized by José Arguelles and actually happened the weekend I was born in August 1987. They called it the Harmonic Convergence, and STS9 actually named their first festival after it.

After throwing Rootwire for a few years in Ohio, I started to realize that this part of the world used to be a sacred meeting ground and still is. You look around the Midwest - Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana - and you see these wild mound structures that line up with celestial alignments that archaeologists pulled oversized skulls out of, and you start to see that the remnants of a past global civilization people like Graham Hancock talk about isn’t limited to Stonehenge, Egypt and Easter Island. There are many of these types of places around North America, but rather than trying to host Earth Night at one in the winter like many of the other celebrations that were happening at sacred sites on this day (Great Convergence and Synthesis) - we decided to get really urban with it and see what kind of peace and space we could create within the city limits - and bring it to the people. It was a challenge organizing in the middle of a 50 show album release tour, but it turned out to be one of the most exhilarating and enchanting experiences of of our lives and something I think we will carry with us forever. I think we did a good thing, and with the help of our friends (SolPurpose, Tribal Council, Julie North and more), held space for a lot of people who really weren’t sure what was gonna happen that day. Now we hope Earth Night can become a real thing- a new type of holiday/celebration for future generations that recognizes some of the living truths that are emerging at this great time in history to remind humanity of the amazing legacy of this awesome place we call Earth.

John McConnell
Fun fact: I recently learned that the first Earth Day was actually started by another dude from Colorado named John McConnell, who recently passed away, but had a vision for global celebration of our planetary heritage. It was initially celebrated on the spring equinox in 1969 until the government took it over and changed it to April 22nd. Nevertheless, in the spirit of this, I started a petition to make December 21st Earth Night a worldwide event, I think if anything to practice setting some long-term goals and with the hopes of seeing the vision through.

So its 2013, now what?

Jason: Well we’re still here, so I guess it’s time to see what we’re really made of - as artists, people, and as stardust. We’re making our 2013 entrance with Umphrey’s McGee in N.C., which should be really exciting, and then heading straight into the Future Forest tour which will carry us through the spring and into the summer. We’re taking with us some of the energy from Earth Night and Rootwire, in addition to some other aspects of integration we’ve been exploring and really want to work on expanding outwards to our fans and the public and creating space for our worlds to meet. We definitely are in the mindset right now to keep encouraging one another to continue to connect with and cultivate the strains of thought that enhance our ability to create and connect and form agreement with one another on this planet. If 2012 taught us anything is that we can all kind of start with a clean canvas if we want to, there’s still’s not over yet.

Papadosio Tour Dates :: Papadosio News

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[Published on: 1/15/13]

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