Papercuts

The brain and guts behind Papercuts belongs to Jason Quever, a San Francisco musician and producer who has toured with the folksy likes of Vetiver, Grizzly Bear, and Camera Obscura. He supports himself entirely from producing and recording local bands in his home studio that he’s lived in for nearly a decade. Acts he’s worked with that you may recognize include Ash Reiter and Sugar Candy Mountain, as well as the seminal Cambridge shoegaze act Galaxie 500.

Previously signed to Sub Pop Records, Papercuts is now with the brand new Easy Sound Recording Company, which released their fifth album, Life Among The Savages, on May 5.

The Bay Bridged: How long did you work on Life Among The Savages?

Jason Quever: When you have a home studio you can record anything you want, which is good and bad because you can go down a rabbit hole with a song where if you were paying for time you wouldn’t necessarily. I spent a couple of years on

[Life Among The Savages] just by the nature of it being not a specific block of time.

TBB: Did you self-produce your past records in the same way?

JQ: This one I rented a house in Bolinas and did a few songs to get a change of scenery, and to try to have a party vibe but that came with mixed results. I did a little bit at The Hangar which is a studio in Sacramento where a lot of people have made records at. I think I was the last record to get made there because it closed down.

TBB: Do you have a track that particularly stands out for you? I know that for me the title track, “Life Among The Savages” … I love that.

JQ: I think that’s my favorite one. It’s funny, you can’t be too objective about it, because when you hand a record in you have this idea of what you think is the jam and then sometimes you’re wrong and when people get into a different one you think, “oh yeah, that’s my jam” because you play it and you see people enjoy it. It totally destroys whatever you thought was the stand-out. At least for me, I’m too weak that way. If people aren’t responding then I say, “oh yeah totally” and then the other ones suck. By the end of the record you get so sick of your own music, so you do use people as a mirror.

TBB: Does your label tell you which songs will be singles, or do you have any say in that?

JQ: This is a new label. I did a record with Sub Pop, but this time they definitely wanted that one [“Still Knocking At The Door”]. And all my friends liked “Life Among The Savages”.

TBB: Right, that’s the jam.

JQ: I don’t want to put any words in anyone’s mouth, but if I do say so myself. [laughs]  Interviews are so funny. You don’t want to sound like you don’t give a shit about your music, but you also don’t want to sound pompous. You have to project some sort of self-confidence, just pretend that you like yourself.

The title track is really dark and weird. It doesn’t have an easy chorus so that’s why I was proud of it. It’s one of those songs where when I finished it I didn’t think anyone else would like it, but I really liked it because it’s weird and dark.

TBB: But then it resonates with people because they’re weird and dark too. 

JQ: Yeah that’s true, you can’t underestimate people. But this is why I like the internet as far as releasing music goes.

TBB: Is there too much pressure with pressing vinyl?

JQ: Yeah, you wonder if they’ll sell. I have a record that’s out of print now, and then you have to wonder, do we want to print more and then you’ll be in debt and they’re sitting in a warehouse. It keeps you stuck in the past. Maybe that’s fucked up, but it’s a physical thing that’s from 2009 that’s like, do I care that much about it? That’s the one thing I like to do with free streaming. It’s not making it too important. When you have these boxes of things that you felt so strongly about in that time and now it’s just a cardboard box in your garage.

TBB: It’s interesting how you view your art afterwards as tangible vs digital.

JQ: You have to see it. You don’t have to see your stuff online, but you see a box around the house. It always comes back to haunt you somehow things on the internet. But I like the idea of doing things, but then not spending too much of your life worrying about it.

TBB: How did you get hooked up with Easy Sound Recording?

JQ: I don’t know if they’re really putting this out there but it’s basically Vanguard, which is the classic folk label. I don’t want to speak too much for Stephen, the main guy but he’d been working at Vanguard, but I think he liked the idea of doing something more weird. That’s how I see myself. It’s pop, but it’s not trying to be radio music at all. He wanted to do things that he really liked and it’s totally his own taste and curation. It was fun to walk into Vanguard. I own a lot of Vanguard records, like Mississippi John Hurt and all these great folk and blues records.