Written by Lauren Rosier
The past year and a half of this pandemic have, without a doubt, taken a toll on all of us in some way, shape, or form. The human being is not meant to be isolated or to go without human contact for several weeks or months, let alone an entire year or more.
The music industry was the first to close and has slowly opened back up with concerts resuming recently. But that wasn’t the case for over a year. Artists were left without work for over a year, tours were canceled, and they had to quickly become extra creative to earn an income, cover costs and expenses, and more.
I had the opportunity to interview the LA-based band, Paper Jackets, about their experiences with the pandemic and how it has affected their music, and what the future comes.
They noted that it was definitely tough before the pandemic, to begin with, and the pandemic certainly has made it that much harder.
“We’ve been no stranger to that reality and just kind of trying to stay with it and not get too sunken into the anxiety, but there’s a certain level of it that’s unavoidable, right? So we’ve done what we can to kind of cope, and a lot of what we do to cope is to create music… We’ve also made use of the time. We’ve been closer than ever in a lot of ways, even though we’re so far apart, we’ve spent more time working on ourselves and working on our music, whereas a lot of the year prior was spent on the road meeting with people,” Aimee Proal explains.
One of the things that I love about Paper Jackets since the moment I heard their song, “Bad Company,” is that they write these incredibly timely, relatable songs that are upbeat, danceable, yet they touch upon sometimes timely events and serious topics that happen in life.
The track’s lyrics are a different take on enjoying someone else’s company, but that’s what I like about it; they’re so real. On the track, they say, ‘yeah, I might have bad habits and bad faults, but we can keep each other company’.
“We’re a pop band with something to say. Our lyrics may reflect a bigger story or a bigger issue, but it’s done up with a pop voice. Everything has that polish on it, but it is still approachable while the core of the content is uptempo, upbeat, relatable, and most importantly, makes the listener feel like everything is going to be okay,” says lead vocalist and songwriter, James Mason.
The band’s track, “Drugs & Honey,” touches upon how sometimes we try to mask our pain. “I think open dialogue is important. Saying how you’re feeling and talking it through and finding a resolution. Lately, for me, I’m focusing on self-care,” Proal explains. “If I’m finding something in my personality that’s just not clicking, I try to find help for it… I think this year has been a huge check-in for everybody. Just take time for yourself.”
Although songwriting can sometimes be an outlet, even that can sometimes suffer, and songwriter Aimee Proal experienced some difficulty finding inspiration after being quarantined without human interaction for so long.
“For me, personally, yes, I was crying some days because I didn’t want to write. James was like, ‘We need to write songs! What ideas do you have?’ and I said, ‘I don’t have anything, I don’t have a life anymore! I’m too depressed to write!’ And honestly, that’s where ‘I’m Depressed’ came from,” Proal admits.
“It came out in like 20 minutes. We were very fortunate to work with this production duo called HEAVY who helped us with the execution of it,” Proal adds.
As the pandemic has come, but yet continues to linger, the band has found themselves going through a revolving door of different producers, including HEAVY.
“We’ve been really fortunate this year to experiment with other producers and explore our sound a little more. ‘Cause up until that moment, we had only worked with one producer for years, who we still work with who is great. It’s just great to get out there and explore different sounds. It might pull different feelings out of you, things you haven’t shown before. I think we found ourselves out of our comfort zone,” Mason explained. “I think for HEAVY, what was cool about them was that they didn’t know us, and they are further along in their journey. It was nice to work with a team like that that has already been developing cool music like this for a while. It just felt like the right next step for us. Even something as simple as their studio. Their studio is a lot different. How they run their tracking is a lot different. It was cool to work with them and try some new things.”
Paper Jackets is James Mason (vocals), Aimee Proal (vocals), Emily Dickinson (keyboard, live backing vocals), and Jonny Vesely (guitar).
Watch their visualizer for their latest single, “Bones,” below.
Connect with Paper Jackets