Bespectacled beatsmith Paper Tiger can be credited with producing a number of Doomtree's rap hits, but he shines without vocal help as well, as proven yet again by his latest release, Summer EP. The sounds deliver on the title's implication of a more upbeat example of Pape's brand of dramatic instrumental hip-hop, and the textured sample-based grooves are some of the best he's released. Gimme Noise interviewed Paper Tiger about the new project and his recent experiences DJing with Doomtree.
Did the name Summer EP stem from a sound you were trying to achieve, or was it simply that it was released in August?
I think it was a little bit of both. I was selecting what would be on it, and the sequence and stuff like that, trying to think of something that somehwat tied it all together. The fact that it was coming out in late summer felt right to me, it all felt about summer. Some of the songs on this are a little bit happier, more upbeat. A lot of my stuff is a little bit more dramatic, full of pianos and things like that. It's definitely a change for every release. A few things I had that didn't make it on the last record for whatever reason, just sort of a collection of stuff that didn't make sense anywhere else. I pooled what I had together, and it made sense as a cohesive EP, and we had time in the release schedule, and it just kind of worked out, so we did it.
Paper Tiger - "The Fortunate Wayfarer"
Does instrumental work take a different process from making beats intended for rapping?
Yeah, I think it does. When I start working on something, I really don't know what the final product is going to be, I don't know what the output is. A lot of times, it's well into the process of finishing the song that I start figuring out where I want this thing to be, do I want a vocalist on it, do I want a rapper on it, should I try to make it work on it's own... It's a different process for every song and I don't know what it's going to be until it's been finished for a while. Sometimes it may initially be sequenced to have nothing on it, but if I go back and listen to it, switch this around, add some stuff, then it works for a rap release. Just depends on the beat. We've kind of come to the idea that we should just play everything for everybody, because you never really know. I remember the first time I heard "Purexed," just the beat. I knew [P.O.S.] was going to write to it, and I knew it would be a rap song; it's one of those things where you hear it and you don't know, it could go a lot of different ways.
Lazerbeak now has a few albums under his belt which he produced entirely. Is a full-length rap album with one artist something you would ever work on?
I'd like to do that at some point. I haven't had that kind of intensity of working with one artist on an entire album. I think it would be good, but it's a hard process to make an entire album that shifts, and makes sense, and stays interesting and energetic. I remember listening to all the stuff that [Lazerbeak] and Sims made for Bad Time Zoo... They made tons and tons of songs; only certain songs made it to the album, but they made probably three times as many songs. They didn't know what was going to be on the record yet. That idea and that process is really interesting, and I'd like to try that eventually.
Doomtree got the chance to play Lollapalooza this year. What was it like being a part of that?
It was great. It was a crazy day for us, because we were going non-stop, from 8:30 in the morning until 3 in the morning, we barely had five minutes to eat a sandwich. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see any of the bands that were playing that day, because we did soundcheck right away and were doing interviews all day long. There was constantly running around that had to be done. Festivals like that, or SXSW, I make a note to myself to not even look at who's playing on the bill, because I know I'm not going to get a chance to watch as music. We don't have as much time to hang out, see music, see friends, stuff like that, when we're in those spaces. I really wanted to see At The Drive In, their reunion show. I got to see them once in 2001, and they're one of my favorite bands of all time.
But we played two shows that day, Lollapalooza in the morning and The Empty Bottle in Chicago that night. It was definitely a non-stop work day for us. But it was amazing to me. Even if you're not a music head, everybody's heard of Lollapalooza. Just the name alone carries so much weight. It's great to have it on the resume, that's for sure. It seemed like a lot of people were jumping up and down, singing along. Especially for it being 12:45 in the morning, and we were the first band to play on that stage, and it was a really hot and sunny day, I was really happy with that energy. I thought it was a great show.
What were some of the albums that first got you interested in making instrumentals?
[DJ Shadow's 1996 album] Endtroducing... was a big thing for me. That changed a lot. When I first started listening to rap music in the early 90's and was figuring out who does what, what the different kind of genres are, stuff like that... When that record came out, it really changed a lot of stuff for me. I was listening to DJ Krush, things like that, tons of other electronic music in the 90's, a lot of stuff coming out of Europe. I remember there was a lot of stuff around and people didn't really know what to call it. I was listening to a lot of rap, but also a lot trip-hop stuff, Tricky, Massive Attack... That always kind of stuck with me. I know it's 20 years later since that stuff came out, but a lot of that sound is just kind of ingrained in me. It might sound dated, but it's not something I can necessarily turn off. I think it's just there forever. It was a formidable time in my life.