:papercutz is an electronic pop music act lead by Portugal-based composer Bruno Miguel and vocalist Catarina Miranda from emmy Curl . They have a new album on the verge of release and we wanted to talk about it with them. King Ruiner is set to drop in the near future.
Last month we had the pleasure to interview :papercutz moments before they went up on stage on Musicbox (in Lisbon). They have been killing it on live shows and presenting their new album without having released it yet – talk about courage… They were kind enough to spend some time with us talking about this experience, their 4-year hiatus, their new inspirations and what’s to come! Keep reading to find the answers to this and much more:
- How did you feel about the Lisb-On experience and the debut of the new songs? Was the audience receptive to your new songs?
Bruno: The question is not the public. We weren’t able to do everything we wanted because, let’s face it, we are very demanding of ourselves. The songs went very well but Catarina was blinded by the sun pretty much the whole time (it was a late afternoon show). This way, the interaction with the audience was very tricky, even more so because we were a bit far away from them. The idea now is to repeat this experiment over and over again.
- What are your expectations for today’s gig?
Bruno: We decided that the best way to present this work was to start with the concerts, go back to the studio and then through the concerts again. The thing is, we use these experiences to understand what would work best on the album itself, even alignment wise. The reaction and experience on stage are the best indicators in the album’s construction. We know that this is particularly difficult because since people do not know the album, they don’t have a strong calling for to simply come up to the gig with a sense of exploring and discovering what’s new.
:papercutz – Origins and Growth
- Now we have a question that may sound wrong, but it is not! It is a curiosity of ours that we have not found an answer to anywhere. The literal meaning of “paper cuts” is something that injures and hurts, right? So… Why the name :papercutz?
Catarina: That’s Bruno’s personality, he’s just like that (laughs). It’s that kind personality that hurts you but is unforgetful.
Bruno: (laughs) It’s nothing to do with literal paper cuts! It has something to do with the Japanese art of cutting paper. Since our music relies on a lot of instrumentation, we spend a lot of time in the studio editing. All that meticulous cutting and sewing, part of the editing process in the studio, seems to be comparable to this Japanese art that is also very meticulous.
- :papercutz began in 2008 with the “Novos Talentos FNAC” and from 2008 to 2013 you had 3 albums (1 of which is a remastering by other artists) and 3 EPs. Then, why a 4 year hiatus?
Bruno: You know what? The new album (King Ruiner) talks a little about it. A person has a certain amount of expectations and when they do not go as expected, this ends up affecting how you feel in studio. And I actually felt like I was not writing what I wanted, I had some sort of a blockage. I wrote things that do not fit well in :papercutz’s style (I will eventually work on these pieces). One of the new songs (Trust / Surrender) even speaks clearly of that. While usually this current notion that we are all racing and in competition with each other does not bother me much, in the world of music it becomes a little hurtful. It turns against you and gets you to a point that you can not finish anything, as you’re always in a hurry to do more and to do better. You feel eternally trapped and unsatisfied – this happens to be the main theme of the album, although King Ruiner actually has a message of hope.
- In this sense, can we say that Catarina came to “save the boat”? Bringing a brighter aura to the album?
Bruno: Yes. I had played with her some times before she came in :papercutz. I invited Catarina (maybe) in 2013. At the time, Melissa (the lead singer at the time of The Blur Between Us) could not be 100% dedicated to :papercutz and Catarina is a person who really devotes herself to this (very) difficult industry. I really admire her for taking on something so difficult that is to embody the character of Melissa (who recorded the studio album) by the time the album was presented live.
Catarina: In a week! It was a week before the concert when he invited me. I had to learn everything from scratch as each album has a personality of its own. I even had to take the bookshelf with the lyrics to the stage with me.
Bruno: There is now a personality linked to Catarina that balances out this new album. She has a very harmonic voice, the luminosity is a core characteristic of her voice. The rest of the ethereal aura is due to my instrumental work.
- With all this internationalization (the release of the album in Japan, productions with small labels in Canada and England, and participations in festivals like NeoPop and SXSW), do you intend to continue with the lyrics in Portuguese (as in Do Outro Lado do Espelho) or is this something that gets lost?
Bruno: Why did we stop singing in Portuguese? We never totally gave up on Portuguese, we just thought it seemed a bit unnatural… It seemed that when we were on stage, we suddenly cutted the flow and started to play in Portuguese… But do you know what? Maybe we will start writing and singing in Portuguese again.
Tips and Tricks
- In the context of our blog, and given how :papercutz ended up growing from 2008 to 2013 and the hallucinating growth of emmy Curl, what is the determining factor in the recognition and establishment of new bands?
Catarina: It’s persistence. I say persistence because there are a lot of people making new music and so there’s a lot of competition.
Bruno: Persistence or consistency.
Catarina: It’s both because to be persistent you also have to have consistency in what you are doing! One thing leads to another… You have to keep going and always believe in what you are doing. You must have a very clear focus. And then there is something else: anyone who wants to make music has to study music very well in terms of market, marketing and promotion. And this is such a maze, it’s very easy to get lost! There are shortcuts of course, but you only know these shortcuts with study and knowledge.
Bruno: Just adding to what Catarina said – and I agree with everything she said, but you have to have an original voice, you have to have something new to offer.
Catarina: You can find originality in many things: you can find originality in the vocals, in the words you sing, …
Bruno: What I do to find originality is to listen to genres different from the ones I produce. It is to seek and discover, to find inspiration in other genres of music.
- Following that answer, what bands or projects are you currently listening to?
Bruno: I loved that Oporto project, Sopa de Pedra! It’s a choral group that sings traditional Portuguese songs. Internationally, I have Perera Elsewhere, a woman who can create in each song a universe of her own.
More than bands, there are styles of music that are quite evident. For example, GQOM is an African genre of music, very tribal but also gothic. It consists of a single tone, a bass a little bit distorted but that has been layered with all those percussions, beats and an incredible variety of polyrhythmic voices.
Catarina: These tribal and African rhythms were very important in the construction of this new album.
- When and where are your next live shows?
Bruno: Throughout the year we’re playing shows all over Portugal, we want make sure we not just play festivals an big venues but also smaller ones and places where usually there’s a niche attendance and following music wise. Those are the venues where you find the audience to be the most sincere and that’s a valuable experience. I wouldn’t say you have to win them over with a few songs, cause we’re not that type of band but surely put on a good show. Early 2018 we’re back playing shows rest of Europe. Next event is actually going to be interesting cause we’re playing in our hometown Porto at a cool venue called Plano B. Its always of mixture of excitement and apprehension when you play in place where your friends and family are watching you but its also a way for us to show our love for what we do and why it means spending time apart.
- What can we expect from :papercutz on those performances?
Bruno: For now our shows are the only way you get to hear songs of our upcoming album, something we thought long and hard about. We could have put out the album in advance but instead we decided to try the new songs live, learn from that experience and use it in the album’s last production and line up choices. We recorded a lot of songs and only a selection made it to the final sequence. Also we’re rewarding everyone attending the show with the fact that there’s no streaming or channel whatsoever to get to know in full what’s the new record all about. Usually bands send materials in advance to press and media and that reaches our listeners and possible new ones and we’re doing it the other way round. Its not as easy to get them to a show but when it ends they feel they’ve experienced something unique with the band and that kinda of feeling is why we enjoy playing live or even make music.
We at Where the Music Meets would like to thank you very, very much for this interview and wish you guys the best of success.