What is Paper Citizen’s songwriting process like? How do you and the band develop song ideas?
It starts off with just me—I usually bring in a song idea to a rehearsal; more often an incomplete song with some lyrics, or sometimes even just a chord progression that I’ve been playing for a little while. It then usually calls for something more collaborative to really fill out all the frequencies. Sometimes I make demos on my laptop and send it to the band so that they can come up with ideas in their own time. I like it a lot when we all meet and jam, hearing them play what they feel like in the moment, and just getting used to a new idea together. Over time we collect more ideas that we develop, filter, dissect, and repeat. Some stick and some don’t, and it eventually shapes up! I love how their interpretation and creativity add to the overall sound.
Where do you write your songs? Does location affect your songwriting, and if so, how?
Mostly indoors, I’d say at home, or somewhere where I can feel like I’m alone and not self-conscious, especially during the early songwriting stages.
I’d say location definitely does affect my writing in terms of creativity and also mood—I moved into a basement apartment last fall and I’d say the songs have turned out a little gloomier than when I lived in an apartment with windows...
Tell me about your song "Anywhere We Want To" that’s featured in the Spire video.
It came from playing a couple of chords that I liked, over and over again. I wanted to see what I could come up with because its simplicity felt good to me. I had also just fallen in love at the time (which might explain why everything felt good to me in the moment), so writing the lyrics seemed to come quite naturally. I was feeling the excitement of meeting someone I couldn’t stop thinking about.
What decisions went into composing and arranging it the way you did?
I consciously wanted to write a chord progression that was simple, steady, bright, and made me feel like I had a spring in my step. So I took the chords and added some Travis Picking to create that musical “bed” for this tune. The melody was a development of the chord progression: light, almost dreamy, just like how I feel about falling in love. The arrangement stuck quite closely to the instrumentation of the band as we perform live—guitars, keys, bass, and drums. I also added harmonies and background vocals, which is an element that I love adding in the style of music that I write. Lastly, when making these decisions, I’m usually asking myself, “Does it feel right for this song? If yes, then it could work!”
What was the process like recording "Anywhere We Want To" with Spire? What were your overall impressions? Did anything surprise you about the app or the hardware?
Spire is very cool. What I love about it is that it not only sounds great, it's compact and completely wireless. Your phone acts as the remote, as well as a simple DAW that will help you sort, mix and bounce your tracks.
It's such an easy way to build your song ideas on the go and start adding ideas and layers instantly. The app has a super intuitive way of mixing! It’s as convenient as drag and drop. It is surprising how simple it all is.
Can you see Spire fitting into your music-making process? If so, how?
Yes I certainly can, and I certainly want to! Making good sounding demos will be so much better for quality, convenience, and efficiency. The music I want to create tends to be collaborative, and sending tracks to my bandmates or producer is as simple as accessing my phone. I also tend to make use of multi-tracking, and this is like a portable, mini-studio that I can take with me everywhere I go.