I first became aware of Brooklyn's Lucas Nathan in January 2011 through a Zonotope™ music video produced by Moduli TV. A half-dozen Zonotope™ collections were released into the public (tagged with "corporate wellness retreat" among other curious descriptors) before Nathan retired the project in October of last year. His latest monikers are Jerry Paper and Diane Kensington Devotional Band. A 66-song double-cassette of modern hymnals and meditation jingles was recently released as the latter; Jerry Paper's debut cassette Vol. 1 came out last month.
We met briefly through computers the other morning for a Twitter-mediated discussion.
Read the full interview and check out Jerry Paper's mix after the jump."I've kind of come to the realization that the most significant things, at least in my life, be they music, love, or religious experience don't quite fit into words. They are irrational experiences trying to be shoved into rational linguistic structure. It's kind of silly. It's no wonder that every time anyone talks about love they fall into cliches, because how else can you talk about something that really makes no 'sense.' Same with religious experience, we grope for these cliched images or try to come up with new, bizarre metaphors that make us sound nuts! Of course music is the same way, it functions as a direct experience in the same way. It can, although doesn't always, bypass the brain's semantic cognition and just kind of strike you, affect you intensely. It's really quite weird and I certainly can't explain it. Sorry I went off on a tangent there, been thinking about this stuff a lot lately hah. In short, yeah when people ask me 'what kind of music do you make?' I'm at a loss."
"Maybe it comes across because I'm having, or at least attempting to have, this experience while I'm making the music. It gets complicated with pop music because it's so rigidly set in a grammar of harmonies and chord sequences and other familiarities. The performer may have less of a direct experience when making the music because there's so much planning involved, whereas improvised music can be equated to speaking freely, or speaking colloquially. You're still using learned phonetic rules but it's not bound to a rigid grammar like that of pop or of a fugue or something. I mean Zonotope™ was more of an attempt to get in the middle of that, a bit more improve heavy in the songwriting process and more loopy. With Jerry Paper I'm kind of trying to speak a little more fluently, balance the direct with the semantically meaningful."
"Then I realized how fulfilling making pop songs was. I was really into repetitions with pop music 'cause I'd been studying a lot of religious music and it was ideologically really interesting to me, but when it comes down to it I just love pop music. Burt Bacharach is the fucking man. Ronnie and the Daytonas are genius. And it all works within a specific grammar, at least structurally. Timbrally you can do whatever you want which is great with synthesizers. And I find that timbre is of underestimated importance."
"Mostly studied music and religion together. Hah I'm glad you get that because it's certainly important to me. I find it's important to have a sense of humor about most everything. I'm often a bit worried about coming across as too serious in my music but I kind of think pop music is inherently ridiculous. That it's already a joke and the fact that I'm doing it is the punchline. That's why I love the TR-727 latin percussion sounds. They're goofy, but they also get the job done."
"...'Dealer' from Climate of Hunter and just thought it was genius minimalist pop. I consider Zonotope™ a 'Dealer' coverband except all the covers failed. Jerry Paper comes more from my love of 50s and 60s pop: Beach Boys, Ronny and the Daytonas, everything Curt Boettcher touched, etc. Also, one of the best albums of all time, Graffiti's self-titled record is the best and I draw a bit from that. The Moonglows are also amazing. OH! Another huge influence is the Mothers of Invention album We're Only in It for the Money. Perfect marriage of musique concrete and pop music. I don't go nuts over much Zappa but that album is totally incredible. Lyrically, this is the best song:"
"Simply because I'm not very good at it. I love La Monte Young and people of that ilk and I've been trying to work with some sound art stuff but so far I've found nothing new to contribute. I have to be content with just going to Young's Dream House and soaking that in. Otherwise, I'm just going to stick with Jerry Paper and channeling all of my excess musical energy into Diane Kensington Devotional Band."For my sake and codebreakers everywhere, Nathan has compiled the aforementioned influential numbers into one easy, portable compact-mix:
Vol. 1 can be found at jerrypaper.bandcamp.com.