Interview with Postdata - August 2010

Interview and article by Aline Giordano

Postdata Postdata is the solo project of Wintersleep's singer Paul Murphy. It’s a very intimate affair, a cathartic outpouring of emotions encapsulated in subtle melodies and acoustic guitars; a fine example of lo-fi music. Track after track Paul and his brother Michael take us deeper into core emotions until the final track ‘The Coroner’. It is their very own way of saying good-bye to their grand-parents who passed away. Paul very kindly answered the following questions, which I sent via email. I had set out to write a feature about Postdata then decided against it. I chose to reproduce the answers as I read them myself and I hope that you will, like me, find them forthcoming, informative, humorous and genuine.

Postdata supported David Bazan in the UK earlier in the year. How did the tour go? How is the UK warming up to the music of Postdata?

Paul: The tour with David was amazing. He's a great song writer and a really great person. Some really nice, intimate settings on that tour. London was one of the better shows, although I think I broke a string after song 3 and had no back up guitar. Eeek. Writing an email is a funny way to converse. I would never say "eek" in real life to convey the feeling that breaking a string with no back up guitar conjures up. Anyhoo, this is an email and there it is. The tour was really fun. The audiences were great. I don't really know much about whether or not UK audiences are warming [to us] since those shows. I may not have a chance to do a tour like that again any time in the near future - or maybe ever - to see if they have indeed warmed to us, but it was really special while it lasted.

Is there much difference between the UK audience and the Canadian one?

Paul: Well, I think perhaps a little more reserved-ness from the UK generally, but that is maybe due to the types of clubs and the fact that the record was released during the tour, so people didn't really get a chance to hear the record before the tour happened.

Your songs portray some pretty tragic and sad situations that are narrated in a very personal manner. Where did you find the lyrical inspiration to write these quite visceral lyrics?

Paul: Well, it sounds kinda cliche but a lot of the atmosphere for this record was inspired by some pretty intense [and I'll use your word actually] visceral dreams that I had around the time that my grandparents passed away. I guess half the record is pretty directly related to dreams that sort of connected in a weird way to their passing and the other half were songs that were maybe not so explicitly about them, but still felt like part of the whole.

From my end it feels like the heart, sometimes a pained heart, wrote most of the lyrics… Is this one reason they didn’t make it as Wintersleep material? Or is there another reason?

Paul: Most of the music I take part of I feel very connected to and I hold it very close to the heart. Not sure how to answer this question. I guess there is pain in the Postdata record but there is a lot of joy in that record for me too. It wasn't about death though for me, it was more of a celebration of them as people and of life in general. It sounds sad too and it is sad too but I found a lot of joy in that writing process actually. These particular songs really worked together as an album in this context best.

Paranoid Cluster: The way you sing the lyrics sounds as if you were running out of breath... as if the mind was feeling trapped… which results in a song that verges on the claustrophobic side. How did it feel to sing it when recording the song.

Paul: Well it is a hard song to sing I guess, a lot of words in a small space. I guess I wanted it to feel kind of claustrophobic.

A few songs on the album like Drift, Paranoid Cluster, The Coroner and particularly Tobias Grey end a bit abruptly, as if the songs were like demos, capturing the essence of what you set out to achieve with each one of them. And to me this is what gives them their beautiful and precious fragility. Was this a conscious choice? Did you and Michael sit down and talk about what you wanted to achieve with this project or did it ‘just’ happen?

Paul: It wasn't something we set out to do, but yeah, the energy it has is probably due to the way we recorded it, the setting I guess for all intents and purposes. The songs together in the way that they are together have a certain impact that you wouldn't get with a more produced version of the same songs together in the same way. We initially set out to make something together and something that revolved around these themes but it wasn't a big endeavor until we started doing it. It became a lot more important as it went along. I think it was after we finished the first round of songs that we really felt the energy that it had.

I very much enjoy watching the videos on your website and particularly the film shot in Paris. Could you tell us a bit more about this project? How it started? I find the film very stylish… and if I may add like a lot of the artwork for Postdata and Wintersleep… Who is in charge of style?

Paul: A friend of mine, Scott Cudmore, was in Paris and wanted to feature Postdata in his Camera Music online video program/catalogue. Camera Music is a site that he does that is sort of similar to that Take Away Show thing, but unique and great in its own way, because Scott's just very talented and unique and great. We both happened to be in Paris at the same time. He had some friends with a cool pad. He is a very stylish fellow. I've told him this before. I'll tell him you said so. Artwork, it depends on the record. James Mejia and I laid out the art for this Postdata record. My girlfriend gave me a broken camera at Christmas time and it did this crazy pixilated thing at random times- you'd be taking a photo of a tree and all the sudden this crazy, warm fuzzy rainbow of colors appeared all around the tree. Anyway, it is kind of a cool function for a camera to have in the end, despite its temperamental nature, and I thought it would be neat to take a picture of myself when the camera was fuzzy, which ended up capturing me in my beginning stages of rosacea in quite a nice way. Cool reds. Anyway, that is the cover. My girlfriend actually took the inside photo in the London Underground. Just a mash of advertisements that accumulated over a long period of time, but that molded together into an image over time that was kinda breath taking and that seemed to fit the "vibe" of the record.

For more details, visit… Postdata's website

Photograph © Triad Publicity 2010