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…I really like the idea of music that doesn’t just fill a space sonically but hits an emotional nerve with people

– Dan Snyder

 

How long have you been in music?

I’ve been doing it full time for almost nine years now. Before that I had some obscure jobs that didn’t have anything to do with music like carpentry and armored car driver. Albeit, I have been really fortunate to have a variety of musical experience around me.

Would you say you’re a perfectionist?

I’m really picky about some things but have never considered myself a perfectionist. For instance when it comes to bass lines and vocal melodies I’m really picky but with mixing and mastering I probably haven’t been critical enough in the past. We all have our things we’re OCD about but in the end, if the music creates an atmosphere we like, the pieces that make it up don’t have to be flawless.

When did you decide to officially become a band?

I didn’t really think about it as a band until 2013 when we completed the Caverns EP and thought it would be fun to tour. Paper Lights was originally a collective project that I had started with some friends. Up until recently I’ve always written the songs with other people and they would help play live shows.

There is a very focused art direction in the designs for your music promos, do the ideas come from you?

It’s something we all discussed together and had our drummer Jonathan Kimsey work up. He works on the side as a graphic designer and had a lot of ideas we were excited about.

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…I’ve always enjoyed listening to bands that have more of a timeless sound

– Dan Snyder

Talk us through your sound?

I really like the idea of music that doesn’t just fill a space sonically but hits an emotional nerve with people. There have been times where I feel like we’ve accomplished that in our music and others where we’ve tried and failed. Either way I don’t know if Paper Lights has it’s own sound, or if it sounds like a series of experiments. I’d like to think that musical consistency comes naturally because of who creates it. For me, if a song doesn’t make me feel a certain way in the end I’ll usually trash it and start over.

Tell us what has changed since Paper Lights have been gaining such positive media attention?

Well, it has been really amazing to experience people being that interested in our work. It started with some TV and film placements we got a couple of years ago and seemed to just domino from that. It has generated some really cool opportunities for us, especially in the licensing area. I’m always excited about interviews because it feels overwhelming when people care that much about what you’re doing.

There is something in your sound that draws comparisons to Coldplay, but what are your influences?

Well first of all thanks, that’s flattering. I’ve always enjoyed listening to bands that have more of a timeless sound, the ones that adhere to trends but not as a gimmick. There are a handful, like Coldplay, U2, even Switchfoot and Goo Goo Dolls that just write great pop songs. But I also love a lot of artists who are great arrangers like Nico Muhly, Olafur Arnalds and Sigur Ros.

You’ve already performed in various states, but is there a European tour on the horizon?

We really want to. I’ve done it before with other bands but it would be different if it were our own music. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel through a lot of Europe and gain a lot of inspiration for these songs from those experiences. So to get to play sounds in places that they were inspired by would be an excellent experience. It’s something we’re certainly looking forward to in the future.

Tell us about your most recent big gig?

We enjoyed playing at the Fernbank Museum for a few different events recently. They have an atrium that reaches about 8 stories high with some of the largest Dinosaur Fossils in the world. It’s an extremely unconventional venue for acoustics but a lot of fun for the same reason. Playing there feels like you’re entertaining guests at Jurassic Park and so of course we made it a point to play the John Williams theme.
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There is a very cinematic feel to much of your music but what feature length film soundtrack would you love to have your music on?

Anything epic or inspirational would be fun. I think about movies like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Elizabethtown, and Vanilla Sky as having brilliant soundtracks. Getting chosen for any Cameron Crowe film would be the highest honour because that guy knows great music.

Have you already been approached to have your music on any feature films as yet?

Yes, but none have made a final cut yet. We’ve had several tracks make it into documentaries and commercials but not any feature films. It seems like the world of licensing has become more accessible in the last couple of years. Those opportunities have created a lot of potential for independent artists but seem to have become more competitive at the same time.

Tell us a bit about your latest single?

One of the best things about being independent of labels has been the ability to constantly put out lots of material. This record will be the third we’ve worked on this year, without releasing a single since 2014. I’m sure it’s something we will revisit in the future but for now it has been fun creating records that are meant for more of an entire experience than to be broken up.

So for your band has being independent definitely worked?

So far it has been a really great way to learn how to do a lot of things unrelated to music. Everything we’ve done so far has been in-house. Between graphics, producing, social media, booking and running a merch store I feel like we’ve had to wear a ton of hats. It would be nice to pass some of that work off one day. For now we’re managing it well even though it is a lot to handle.

Are there any artists or bands you will be collaborating with in the near future?

There are several that would be fun but we don’t have anything on the books yet. There are a handful of producers like Peter Katis and Mike Crossey I would really love to work with one day.

What can we expect from Paper Lights’ next album?

It will be our first full-length record and it’s sounding more pop/rock than the last three EP’s. This is the first time I’ve written all the songs by myself for a full-length record and it is turning out to be a fun challenge. I’m excited to have Jeremy Griffith (producer, Underoath, John Mark McMillan) Josh Stewart (keys, drums), Zac Brooks (percussion) Mike Packer (bass) and my childhood friend, Chris Mitchell (guitarist) helping with it. Chris has moved into our home to work on this record. He listens to a lot of records by The Smiths and The Cure, so he naturally contributes some tastefully simple guitar parts. We should be releasing it in early 2016 and touring later in the year.
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