Doomtree's Paper Tiger: The Interview (and free 80s mix!)

The best place to find John Samels is behind the DJ booth, 80's sunglasses (authentic, mind you)  slipping down his nose a and too-small hat cocked to the side in a playful tongue-in-cheek nudge at the scene that's grown to love him. At 29 years old, the graphic designer and Doomtree DJ known as Paper Tiger is just starting to take a a big fat red pen to his musical aspirations checklist, starting this year with a European tour in support of POS, this month with production on his own and crew members' albums, and on Saturday with the 5th anniversary of the rap pack's "Blowout" showcase that somehow manages to top itself each year (even to the crew's surprise). On the heels of the Mainroom show, Papes takes a moment to answer all of our burning questions on everything from 80s movies to his time overseas to what it's really been like to go from the bottom of the bottle to the top of the throne.

​Gimme Noise: You went to Europe in October to DJ on POS's tour dates. And we are so jealous. Tell us something that will make us even more so.

Paper Tiger: I did spend 3 weeks in Europe. It was totally amazing, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. We did Germany, England, Scotland, and Holland and we did the whole thing on trains, which is amazing. You get to see some beautiful parts of the countryside. It was really the first time I left the States, too, I mean, I went to Canada for a few days once, but that really doesn't count. The food, however, is terrible, but it is very easy to overlook when you are in a different part of the world. A few highlights: Munich, Berlin, London, Amsterdam. Boom, done.

GN: Around this time five years ago, a bunch of you were sitting in the back of the Varsity stunned at how well the first Blowout went. Is there still a sense of that-- that awe?

It is easy to get really wrapped up in things and forget that there a lot of people that actually like what we do. Every year when I am on that stage, and I look out and see a sold-out audience of kids going crazy, it really puts things into perspective, that what we are doing is not going unnoticed. I remember sitting in the coffee shop with the crew, planning the first one, wondering if it will all work. And you would think that after five years, times have changed, but there is definitely an element of that afternoon in every year we have done this since.

GN: Favorite Blowout so far and why?


The 2nd Blowout was special I think because it was the first time we sold out the Main Room (at First Avenue). That alone made the night for me. It is a place of legendary status, and I am just happy to be part of it.

GN: Tell us about your current project you're working on in the studio.

We just wrapped up working on the new full length record from Dessa - "A Badly Broken Code". I am really excited about this project, because I feel very involved with this record. I worked on a good portion of it with Dessa, and I am really proud of how it turned out. I am just about finished with my first full length album. It sort of picks up where I left off with my last EP. I spent a month in New York this summer working on it. I have a few guest vocalists, and I'm very excited for it to get finished. At the Blowout his year, I am releasing a 7" record. It is limited to 200 copies, and I hand screen printed all the packaging myself. This is 2 tracks that will appear on the record, but not exactly in this way.

GN: If you could only wear one pair of sunglasses for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Ha! Well, I think my favorite pair I bought in a small town called Centralia, Washington. They are the perfect color, sort of a grey, cement color, with subtle black speckles and just the perfect amount of tint. And they are straight-up legit originals from the 80's, not this Urban Outfitter re-make crap.

GN: Another hypothetical - you have to hang out with one Doomtree member for a month straight, and that's the only person you get to see. Who do you pick and why?

That is a loaded question. Are you trying to get me in trouble? The real answer is, I could very easily spend a month with anyone in the crew. They are my best friends in the world. I understand that is the super cop-out answer, but it's true.

GN: Tell us your favorite 80s movie and why, and please let it be Pretty in Pink.

Pretty in Pink is a great film -- one of the best, however it is not my absolute favorite. I used to work at a breakfast restaurant, and one time I was reinacting the scene when Jon Cryer sings Otis Redding, and people called me "Duckie" for years.

[Editor's note: We asked because we've always thought you resembled that character, and now we're going to love this anecdote forever]

My absolute favorite 80's movie is Gleaming The Cube. This movie changed my life. A lot of people say that kind of thing, and dont really mean it, but I do.
I was 9 years old, and I had been sort of into skateboarding since I was 5, but this is really when it became serious. And it really did change everything, to this day.
It is the reason that I got into all the music I am into, and it is the reason I got into graphic design, it is the reason I am who i am. I owe everything to skateboarding.
I still skate now, but I am only getting worse at it every year.

GN: What's your favorite track right now by Doomtree, and what's your favorite NON Doom track right now?

Dang. Another hard question. Well, I have a lot of favorite Doomtree songs, I guess most of my favorites right now are not actually out yet, so I can't really tell you what they are. If I had to pick something from this year, I would say "Like you Mean It" by SIMS, or "Never Better" by P.O.S for Doomtree stuff. Favorite non-Doom track right now? This one may come as a bit of a shock, but the song that is freaking me out at the moment is called "Stay Close", off the record "Scars" by Basement Jaxx. The whole record is really great, but this song is just amazing.

GN: What's one thing that would totally ruin a DJ gig for you? What makes it the best?

Basically this is very easy, when people dance and have fun, that is all that matters. That is what makes it the best. I have fun going to parties and hanging out, but I never have as much fun as when I really crush it and there are tons of people freaking out and dancing all night. That is what makes it for me. It's an amazing feeling. I guess the adverse is completely true, when you're playing and no one is dancing, it's just no fun. I also tend to hate requests! Especially when people have terrible taste and request bad songs. This will often happen at things like weddings.

GN: What's next for the Papes within the next 6 mos to a year? Goals, gigs, aspirations. Go.

Well, this year should be amazing. We are going to have a lot of great releases from Doomtree. I cant say too much about them, but they are going to blow people's minds. I am excited to put out my record, and do some stuff with that. I am hoping to tour again a bunch, and probably will spend some time in NY again. I have a few sweet DJ gigs lined up - I do a party every year for the X-Games. Winter games are in Aspen, and Summer is in LA. Those are super fun. I just started doing a 20 MIN Mixtape tradition on , I plan to do a bunch of those, and make some sweet music. Should be a fantastic year.//>