• cumulus

    I don't normally write about music on this blog, but a very special record comes out today and I wanted to tell you all about it. It's called I Never Meant It to Be Like This and it's by a band called Cumulus.

    Cumulus is a Seattle band fronted by a seriously amazing lady named Alexandra Niedzialkowski. I met Alex the first summer I volunteered with Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, a summer day camp here in Seattle that's part of the global Girls Rock Camp Alliance (I know that's a lot of links, but they're all worth visiting, I promise!). Girls rock camp is an incredible experience that I really believe in: helping girls aged 8-18 learn to use their voices, write music, build confidence, and generally make the world a better place. Through rock music. I mean, how awesome is that, right?! It sounds kind of corny to say it, but my first summer volunteering at rock camp kind of changed my life.

    I was a first time camp counselor, and admittedly a little nervous, but Alex was an old pro, having volunteered at rock camp before. She came in on Monday morning with the most incredible enthusiasm and energy, and that's the first thing I noticed about her. Not only did she get the campers pumped up and excited, but she got me pumped up and excited, too. And before you knew it, I was jumping around dancing to the lunchtime bands and screaming along to the camp song too. She was a model for the new volunteers like me. She kind of embodied the rock camp spirit. And it's not just because she beleives in the girls rock camp mission, although she does; it's because that's just the kind of person she is. Upbeat and excited and wonderful to be around, making other people feel good about themselves, about the world.

    All that stuff comes through in her music, and that's why I'm so excited the Cumulus full-length is out today. Maybe I'm a little biased, because I know Alex personally (and for the sake of full disclosure: this record's out on my husband's label, Trans- Records), but it's a gorgeous record and I hope you'll take the time to listen to at least a song or two. You might fall in love. I know I have.

    If you're in Seattle, the Cumulus record release show is this Thursday, October 3rd at Neumos, with Kithkin and Sundries. Full event details here. I'd love to see you there!

  • j'aime l'amour à trois

    Sometimes, you've just got to put down the arts & crafts, and sing and dance instead.

    Pictured above: Paper Tiger singing une chanson d'amour avec Stereo Total at Cat's Cradle earlier this month. Grand merci à Rachel Demy pour ce photo !

    Also, new art is imminent! Just not ready yet...

  • preorder saint bartlett

    I have a few upcoming art projects related to the release of Damien Jurado's new album, Saint Bartlett, so I am thrilled to pass on the news that it is now available for pre-order via the Secretly Canadian website.

    All pre-orders will receive an instant mp3 download of the whole record, which is pretty rad. As for those art projects, there will be more news soon...
  • damien jurado / saint bartlett

    Damien Jurado's new album, Saint Bartlett, came out May 25th, and on May 29th he played an album release show here in Seattle at the Triple Door. I made this poster for it. The whole thing, from start to finish, was a made-by-hand process. I am going to attempt to document that process here, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing - if you're not, you can just check out the images.

    I have always made a great deal of my artwork on the computer, and this poster (along with one I made last fall as well as a large-scale painting project) is part of an attempt to unplug and get back to a more tangible process of making things. And it was a process!

    This poster began as an idea: embroidery by hand only, with no aid from computers or machines in any way (with the sole exception of scanning the actual piece of fabric to reproduce it). I haven't done any embroidery since I was in elementary school, probably, so it required some preparation and planning. I skipped over to Stitches to purchase fabric, embroidery thread, and the incredibly crucial heat-transfer pencil (this was necessary for making a pattern). I sketched the whole thing up in regular pencil, first. Everything was drawn by hand, including the lettering. Then I flipped over my sketch and traced the lettering on the back of the paper with the heat transfer pencil. This gave me a heat-transferable sketch of the poster - backwards - enabling me to iron it directly onto the fabric so I knew where to place my stitches.

    Labor-intensive as that sounds, the next step was definitely the longest part. Embroidering the band names was a long process, aided by the fact that the band names were none too short. I embroidered at home, at the Jurados', in the passenger seat of friends' cars, and on the way down to Portland for a shoot with Kyle Johnson (that post will come at a later date). I took to carrying my embroidery hoop around in my purse for whenever I had a free moment. To give you a point of reference, just one letter of Damien's name would take me anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on the size and complexity. Luckily, I am incredibly satisfied by this kind of time-consuming handicraft; there's something about the near-tedium that I can really get into.

    Once I finished the lettering, the trees were smooth sailing to the finish. We scanned it once, but I am a perfectionist and was not satisfied with the quality, so I ironed it out and re-scanned it. The original sits now atop my dresser, but prints are also available for $5 via Luckyhorse Industries, here. There will definitely be more unplugged tangible artwork in the near future...

    (Last two photos by the incredibly talented Sarah Jurado)

  • nikki oh nikki

    Here's a photo by my friend and wonderful photographer, Laura Musselman, from one of the few instances I get up in front of people and sing. My dear friend John Vanderslice came up to the northwest to play a few shows a few weeks ago and we sang "Nikki oh Nikki" to a quiet crowd at the end of the night. It is something I have wanted to do for years and it's easily one of my favorite memories of Seattle so far. Thank you to Laura for the gorgeous image!

    I snapped a few shots of JV before the show. The second of these features the inimitable John Roderick of the Long Winters, who joined us after "Nikki" for "Pale Horse."

  • tiny telephone

    I took a road trip down to California in July and while I was there, I stopped by my friend John Vanderslice's analog recording studio Tiny Telephone in San Francisco. Some of my favorite records have been made there so I was thrilled to finally see the studio - and after a recent remodel too, with some gorgeous work done by Claire Mack.

    I took a bunch of photos of the studio while I was there, and I'll post a few of them below. You can see the rest over at the Tiny Telephone tumblr page.

  • inspiration: christian sorensen hansen

    Seattle is so alive with creativity that sometimes my heart feels fit to burst. I am beyond impressed with the musicians and artists here, and these two videos by Christian Sorensen Hansen are a perfect representation of why. Be sure to check out both of these bands as well as Christian's other work -

    International Filing Systems / Christian Sorensen Hansen
    Bryan John Appleby
    Campfire OK

    Cliffs Along The Sea from Christian Sorensen Hansen on Vimeo.

    Dreidel, Dreidel from Christian Sorensen Hansen on Vimeo.

  • vinyl art

    I've recently had the opportunity to work in a new medium - plastic! I've been designing pieces made with computer cut vinyl which I can either apply to acrylic or glass as self-contained art pieces, or the vinyl can be applied to other surfaces like a sticker. It's more of a commercial medium than I'm used to but it's been a lot of fun to play around with and I have some vinyl-related projects in the works. Check back for more info on that soon... for now, here are a few of the things I've been making!

    "Hello" - series of U.S. maps in different colors/patterns (these will be for sale soon)

    "Kjøkkenet" means "kitchen" in Norwegian.

    Words are from a song by my friends The Head and the Heart.

    And Alex Crick got a great shot of one of the stickers I made, which you can see here. My friend Damien stuck it straight on his guitar!

    Keep an eye out for upcoming vinyl projects...I've been working on some title cards in collaboration with a video project being put together by Tyler Kalberg and Dylan Priest, and I'm really excited to see the outcome. These guys do great work: Tyler shot the gorgeous Doe Bay Sessions (and check out Dylan's portraits from the sessions as well as his Vimeo) so it's gonna be good!

  • on home and community

    Many people have a lot of pride for their hometown or their home state - I grew up in North Carolina and even though I haven't lived there for several years, I still carry around a little replica of the state's silhouette on my keychain. It reminds me to think about home. But there's more than one meaning to that one word: home. There's the home you came from, and then there's the home you choose. The home you make for yourself. The friends you surround yourself with who, while they may not be your blood relatives, are like your family. Washington state is that home for me, and I've noticed that folks around here have a lot of Washington pride (myself included). Seattle is a city with a pretty sizable population of transplants; I know plenty of folks who uprooted their lives and moved out here to take a chance on Seattle. And we may not have grown up with Mariners baseball or the Kingdome or Fisher and West on the radio in the morning, but we love this city all the same.

    Last fall my friends Damien and Sarah were spending some time with me after they got home from tour. I'd started making my "hello" maps, and after Damien saw one and proclaimed "that's awesome!", he said, "You should make one that's Washington State and just says 'home.'" Friends, let this be evidence of Damien's genius.

    Now, remember when I was talking about the home you choose, and the friends that are you like your family? Damien and Sarah are that for me. Without going into all the boring details, they were there for me at a time when I needed them immensely, and I wanted to give them something meaningful for Christmas. I remembered Damien's Washington "home" suggestion and came up with two things: the sign and the sticker you see below:

    Damien put the sticker on his guitar. My friends immediately began asking for stickers and signs of their own. I only made nine signs, but I kept making stickers, and those are available via Luckyhorse Industries. As you can see at the top of this post, the graphic from the sign is now on T-shirts - the lyrics came from a song by our friends The Head and the Heart and they recently approached me about putting it on some shirts exclusively for their two upcoming Seattle shows. I was thrilled to oblige (and happily, Luckyhorse Industries also printed the shirts).

    My friend Abbey from local music blog Sound on the Sound loved the WA home stickers so much, she got the design tattooed on her arm:

    I have been trying to write this post for weeks now, and failing, because this feeling of home is so much bigger than just a few friends. There's a strong feeling of community in Seattle right now, which has been much discussed and written about (check out the March issue of City Arts Magazinefor some examples). I'm just grateful to be part of such an inspiring community and I can't wait to spend some time behind the merch table at the Head and the Heart's sold out Showbox gig tomorrow night, meeting people who love this community and this state just as much as we do.

  • case studies - "lies"

    While Paper Tiger goings-on are slow, here's a piece of news I forgot to share earlier. Local Seattle photographers Kyle Johnson, Andrew Waits, and Miles Burnett made a music video earlier this year for a local band called Case Studies. The video is shot from the point of view of the singer, Jesse, as he goes on the same date over and over again with different girls. I was fortunate enough to work with these guys as one of the girls in the video, and I share that role with a whole heap of talented ladies from Seattle (including Melodie Knight from Campfire OK, and photographers April Brimer and Aya Sato, to name just a few). And if you look closely, you might just spot a familiar sweater.

  • notes from home & doe bay

    Here's a project I am very proud to be a part of: Notes from Home

    Notes from Home in the simplest of terms is a house show series. The shows take place in living rooms in and around Seattle. The audio is multi-tracked live. Photographers are invited to come shoot the show. And a few songs of each set are recorded to video by Tyler Kalberg and Dylan Priest. Now that the site is up and running, you can listen to (and download!) that audio, you can look at the photos, and you can watch the videos. It's pretty incredible.

    I was lucky to design both the logo and do the majority of the type work for the site and videos. I'm very, very happy with how it's all come out and I couldn't be more proud of Tyler, Dylan, and Zach for putting this all together.

    I also helped organize show #3, with Damien Jurado, John Vanderslice, and Colin Reynolds. I sang with Jurado and Vanderslice, and one of my songs with Vanderslice made it into the video section. You can watch that here (it's the second song of three, but you should watch the whole thing):

    I also mentioned a few posts back that I sang with Vanderslice at Doe Bay Fest on Orcas Island this past August. We filmed a Doe Bay Session for Northwest music blog Sound on the Sound (also shot by Tyler Kalberg), and here's the result of that: