Luce Unplugged: 5 Questions + 1 with Paperhaus

Madeline on September 6, 2016
Paperhaus. Photo by Michael Andrade.

This September 8, we welcome Paperhaus back to the Luce Foundation Center as a part of Luce Unplugged, our free, monthly local concert series. In partnership with D.C. Music Download, we feature bands influencing the D.C. music scene now and highlight creativity happening within our own city. We decided to check-in with Alex Tebeleff from Paperhaus and dig deeper into the band's creative process.

Eye Level: When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?

Paperhaus: This project started many years ago, and has been under the current name Paperhaus for about 10 years. It started as a way to make highly collaborative creative music that still focused on songwriting. Currently, I'm the only original member left, but as long as there are people around willing to keep the original spirit of the band going, it's going to continue. This band is definitely an entity unto itself, informed by a lot of different kinds of creative people over a long period of time. I've been very lucky to have been able to work collaboratively with so many interesting and passionate artists over the years!

EL: Can you tell us about your creative process?

Paperhaus: There are two ways we write: either creating songs out of jams, or a song or musical idea is brought into the band and the band develops the rest of it together. Our new record-in-process is our first using the synthesizer extensively as a primary instrument, and it's definitely changed the way we write. For example, one song called "Walk Through The Woods" started with a synth arpeggio, which we have never done before, and the variations on the synth are what signal the changes in the song structure. There's also more traditional songwriting too, starting with an acoustic guitar and building from there. We are a bit all over the place, no rules as far as creative process is concerned.

EL: How would you describe the D.C. music scene and who are your major influences for your music?

Paperhaus: The D.C. music scene is mostly wonderful. It can be a little cliquish sometimes, but other than that it's highly collaborative and people really support each other. The quality of music has grown massively over the past few years, especially since I've been living in the city. And the house show scene really does a lot to keep the music scene alive. We've definitely been influenced by both the go-go and punk scenes that thrived in D.C. over the years. Growing up in this area influenced everyone in the band in that regard.

EL: All of you have been very influential in the underground music scene here in D.C. Can you tell us a little bit about D.C. Do It Together?

Paperhaus: DCDIT is a project that helps touring bands and locals who are trying to do something special find sustainable shows around the city. Definitely a labor of love. Music is pretty worthless without a strong community. It becomes extremely self-indulgent otherwise, and I use music to destroy my ego and rebuild it anew, not build it up! DCDIT is a great chance to meet different kinds of people with different perspectives all over the country, and help connect D.C. music to the wider music scene ecosystem.

EL: How can fans access your music and are you releasing any upcoming albums?

Paperhaus: We are working on a new album right now, and we'll be playing songs from that album at the show at Luce! You can listen to our previous album, our recent single "Silent Speaking," previous EPs and buy them as well over at Bandcamp.

Catch Alex and Paperhaus play September 8 at 6 p.m. after a staff-led talk on an artwork selected by the band. See you Thursday!