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Sunday, 14 June 2015

Interview with Faded Paper Figures


Picture courtesy of their Facebook Page
Faded Paper Figures is an American Indie Pop electronica band from Los Angeles, California. The band has three members: John Williams (guitar and vocals), Kael Alden (bass, guitar, and drums, etc.) and Heather Alden (vocals). They formed in 2007, and their latest album "Relics" was released in August 2014.  I discovered Faded Paper Figures on Twitter. Once I started listening to their music, I became a fan, and  as a songwriter myself, I really was impressed  with the process of their song writing and what they write about.  I was immediately drawn to their Indie vibe of upbeat and soothing electronics. One of my favorite songs is "Lost Stars."
They're not your average band. John Williams is a full-time professor of English at Yale University, Heather Alden is a doctor and in residency after graduating from medical school, and Kael Alden writes music for a production company in Los Angeles called Robot Repair. Read more about them and their style of music in my interview with them.

Forward thinking electro pop, with the glistening production shrouding a chassis which borrows from indie rock songcraft [...] emotive songcraft and delicate arrangement.”   – Clash (UK)

I expected this group to deliver ‘smart’ music and dammit, they do.  They do the synth movement proud – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.” – PopDose (US)

Introducing Faded Paper Figures...........


Maria-.  How did you meet?

FPF- We met at a party in Irvine, California, where John was in a PhD program and Heather (already married to Kael at the time) was earning her BA. 

Maria-Your band name- Faded Paper FIgures, how did you come up with the name?

FPF- We wanted something that conveyed our deep awareness that we were building on the musical genius of a lot of bands before us (being “faded paper”) but also our sense of original identity (our sense of being “figures” in our own right).  Plus it just seemed to have a nice ring to it. 

Maria-. When I first listened to "Breathing", song off of your 4th album, Relics, I immediately thought of Duran Duran. Who inspired your style of music, and how would you best describe it to everyone?

FPF- Our musical influences go back several decades, from our earliest days of soaking up indie music (Depeche Mode, New Order, The Smiths, Radiohead, etc.) to more contemporary acts (St. Vincent, Pinback, Phantogram, Big Black Delta), but there are too many in both categories to name them all.  In terms of describing it to others, probably "indie-electronic" is the easiest label--both parts of which are important for us ("indie" referring to our ongoing commitment to independence from any corporate constraints about what we do with our art, and "electronic" referring to the pure joy we find in tweaking digital and analog technologies to create new sounds).

Maria- Since all of you have day jobs, was being part of a band your daydream? When you were kids, did you dream about being a musician and singing on stage?

FPF- Yeah, we all dreamed about being successful musicians when we were younger.  As we got older though we became more realistic of how that would work in terms of our actual careers.  So far we’re pretty happy with the balance we’ve struck.

Maria- Who is the main writer of your songs or do all of you contribute? What's the process? 

FPF-In terms of our process, John is mainly in charge of the lyrics and Kael is mainly in charge of the music (although there's some overlap constantly).  The whole thing involves a lot of time and effort, even if the way it all comes together feels (even to us at times) wholly magical.  Part of the long-distance nature of our songwriting means that there's a natural incubation time for each song as it's evolving.  We don't just write a bunch of songs in a garage somewhere, practice them, and then finally record them one weekend in a studio.  They're more like research or startup projects that develop in back-and-forth conversations, moving through different tensions and desires, endlessly revising, until we're all happy with the result.  Of course, there are also times when we need to come together and accelerate work on a given set of songs, and for that John usually flies out to LA for a week or so, but then things go back to our process of moving files across dropbox, critiquing new ideas, and listening on our own to how things are evolving

Maria- What's your favorite song that you've written so far?

FPF- It changes all the time. Usually it’s the song we happen to be working on at a given moment, haha.  Right now we’re working on a video for “Not the End of the World,” so that’s probably our favorite at the moment.   

Maria- Please tell me what the song "Breathing" is about? What or who inspired the lyrics and the music? (My favorite so far.)

FPF- Soaking up indie music (Depeche Mode, New Order, The Smiths, Radiohead, etc.) to more contemporary acts (St. Vincent, Pinback, Phantogram, Big Black Delta), but there are too many in both categories to name them all.  In terms of describing it to others, probably "indie-electronic" is the easiest label--both parts of which are important for us ("indie" referring to our ongoing commitment to independence from any corporate constraints about what we do with our art, and "electronic" referring to the pure joy we find in tweaking digital and analog technologies to create new sounds).

“Breathing” is about death, and the effort to transcend it.  It’s also about religion and the various (to our minds insufficient) answers it has tried to provide for the problem of death.  Egypt is, of course, a central figure in the song because they were so obsessed with the dilemma of death (hence the “Book of Breathing” we reference in the song).     

Maria-  How do you make it work by having a full time career plus your band and family time/children? How do you do it all? Or is it easy because you love it?

FPF- The truth is, we don’t “do it all,” but rather do most of those things we do rather selectively.  There’s just no way, for instance, for us to tour as a band for months at time the way that other bands do, and so we’ve just had to accept that reality.  But we certainly do love the things we get to do as a band without that.  Songwriting and the whole creative process makes it all worth it!   

Maria- How much fun was it when you did a tour last year? And are you going to come to Atlanta or maybe Tenn? I would love to see you live. 

FPF- The tour was a whirlwind, and unfortunately too short, but, as we said, that’s just the nature of our lives right now.  Still, it was enormously fun, and we loved meeting and talking to people everywhere we went. We were amazed that so many people knew so many of our lyrics, and came to see us play!  So at some point we’d definitely like to do it again, but it’s doubtful that we’ll be on the road long enough to make it to Atlanta or Tenn (even though we’d love to!).  Hopefully we can do more of it in the future.   

Maria-  Are you working on a fifth album? If, so what can your fans expect?

FPF- Yes, or at least we’ve started writing new songs for one.  It’s still too early to know how to describe it though.  We will have to see how it evolves. 

Maria- What does it feel like to know that your music is being listened to by millions of listeners on Pandora, Spotify,  LastFM, and Youtube?  

FPF- It’s wonderful, and very gratifying.  There are times when it’s absolutely mind-boggling to us that we might actually have as many or even more current listeners as do some of the awesome indie-bands and songwriters we grew up listening to and idolizing (e.g. The Ocean Blue, The Trash Can Sinatras, Bob Mould, The Teardrop Explodes, and so on).  That seems crazy to us, but we’ll take it!   

Maria-  I have to ask, since McDreamy was killed off on Grey's Anatomy and everybody was like real upset about it. Did you watch the show? I know that a couple of your songs were in a couple of episodes of the show (I watched one of the episodes) 

FPF- We watched the episodes that featured our songs, but haven’t had much exposure to it beyond that. 

Maria- Did anybody from the show ask permission to use it and  what was it like to have couple of your songs to be played on the show? 

FPF- Yes, somehow our music made its way into the hands of one of the producers and they licensed a couple of our songs.  That first paycheck for the placement was what finally took us out of debt for the first album, so that was very gratifying. 

Maria- I always like to share motivational or inspirational quotes with my readers, do you have one you would like to share? 
           
FPF- Here’s a nice one: “Early to rise, early to bed, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead.”  (We’re not morning people, even though society expects it of us, so we’re still fighting that wherever we can).  

Maria- Do you ever think you'll quit your day job and pursue music only?

FPF- It’s not likely.  Not with the music industry the way it is now. 

Here are some reviews of Faded Paper Figures from their website.

Faded Paper Figures’s lively electro-pop touches multiple nerves, with amazing versatility . . . creating a truly listenable balance of synthesized pop tunes, beats, and pristine string accompaniments, with which they break out from the typical electronica and pop genre.” — Mescaline Injection (Germany)

The band’s delightful pop is out-of-this-world yet grounded in self-examination. Faded Paper Figures cover a lot of territory here… But it’s all done with a mindful demeanor that suggests a honed self-awareness.”  – Paste (US) 

Follow Faded Paper Figures on their social links listed below. 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/fadedpaperfigures#

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/fadedpaperfigures?fref=ts

Website- http://www.fadedpaperfigures.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/fpfmusic

Thank you for reading! Follow me on Twitter :https://twitter.com/duraniemaria



About Maria Rochelle


Maria is a writer of multiple genres, and author of the popular children's picture story book series Jasmine Dreams.
Find out more about Maria here →

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