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Interview With Papooz

I discovered French duo Papooz around 2016. I had a bi-weekly radio show in New York on Newtown Radio, called "Outerspace". The show was a mixture of mainly pre-2000s tunes, but every so often I'd throw something new in. I heard "Ann Wants to Dance" one day and I was hooked, added it to the rotation and played it all the time.

So it's pretty neat to interview them sourrounding their new record, RESONATE. Without further ado, Papooz talk about their favorite pieces of gear, Harry Nilsson, getting over writer's block and more.

Papooz in the studio.
Papooz in the studio.

Synth History: What were some of your first instruments and do you still have them?

Ulysse: My first instrument was a xylophone and a little baby piano when I was six years old and sadly, I don’t have it anymore.

Armand: My first instrument was a classical guitar my mother bought me was I was twelve years old. I gave it to Arthur Teboul from the french band Feu Chatterton! after I gave him a couple of guitar lessons a few years ago. It has a big hole in it like Willie Nelson’s Trigger because I was obsessed by Paco de Lucia at the time… I’m glad it still somewhere, and hopefully it’s still loved.

Synth History: What is an instrument you consider a "hidden gem"?

Ulysse:  We used this Soviet synth on the album called the Ritm 2, it’s kind of a hidden gem, the filters sounds so sexy. And we used it a lot with Patrick Wimberly in NYC.

Armand: I bought a "bunny synth" at a flee market for 40 euros. It’s Italian made, I think. We still have it. It makes a weird fucked up wah-wah organ sound. I remember we wanted to service our other synths with the guy in Paris who fixes Daft Punk and Phoenix gear. That was the only peace we have in the studio he noticed… and he services Yamaha CS-80 all the time!


Synth History: What's your favorite synth of all time?

Ulysse:  Minimoog Model D, you can do all the sounds you want with this machine, from the lowest dirtiest bass sound to the smoothest lead ever. It’s so expressive and it cuts through the mix perfectly. We’ve put a few Minimoog lines in the Space Echo RE-201 on this album and it was a pure pleasure.

Armand: The ARP 2600 synth. My friend Pierre Rousseau showed it to me a couple of years ago. It’s the main architecture of his electronic studio. I really fell in love with it when he showed me how to run guitars and other stuff through it. I still think it’s the best pedalboard in the world and I love playing guitar through it. So I bought the mini version that Korg released a few years ago during Covid. It’s in my living room, and I just love even looking at it.

Papooz in the studio.
Papooz in the studio.

Synth History: What are some of your current studio go-tos in general?

Ulysse: On the last album I’ve passed a lot of the synths through a 90’s TC Electronic II phaser pedal Armand bought a few years ago at this very cool shop called Woodstore in Paris. It works so well on anything: guitars, synths, drums… we just can’t get enough of that slow spin. I used it a lot with the Poly 61 and Korg miniKORG-700FS.

Armand:  We used to record live with our band or other cool musicians in homemade or professional studios, but now we’ve gone more nomad on the last album. So basically we travel anywhere we need to record with a Universal Audio soundcard, a Sennheiser 441 microphone, a MIDI keyboard and a 20 dollar fake Gibson acoustic guitar called a "givson" I absolutely adore.

Mic setup.
Mic setup.

Synth History: What is one record you think everyone should listen to at least once in their lifetime, apart from your own?

Ulysse: I will never be pretentious to say ours, but I think listen to the album Friends by The Beach Boys, or Inspiration Information from Shuggie Ottis.

Armand: Nilsson sings Newman. It’s the coolest album ever made in my opinion. And it so sweet to think Harry Nilsson was so amazed by Randy Newman’s work he wanted to do an all album of his songs. Randy also did an all album of Harry’s songs after he passed in homage to him. It’s the most wholesome thing.

Synth History: Is there a record you tend to throw on whenever you're feeling low?

Ulysse: Music who gives me strength! Like Everybody’s Talkin' from Bill Withers or Without Her from Harry Nilsson to feel even more sad.

Armand: I think any Bob Dylan album works especially if you’re going through a bad break up: Blood on Tracks would be my go to album. Otherwise anything Billie Holliday and Lester Young.

Synth History: What are some tips for getting over writer's block?

Ulysse: Talk about things you really know. Talk about things you cannot say sometimes in your daily life! Remember the details. And try to spot on the invisible things.

Armand: I just saw a video of David Bowie on Instagram describing the John Lennon songwriting diet: Talk about what you know. Be honest. Make it rhyme. Maybe the best tip I can give, is start working with other people if you feel you can’t make it on your own.

Synth History: What is inspiring you the most right now?

Ulysse: Musicians inspire me, artists in general, listen to someone who’s really passionate and commited to their craft. Also, whenever I listen to some good music it triggers something in my mind and it makes me wanna play and try my best to be as cool as what I just heard.

Armand: Traveling and meeting new people and musicians. It was really a blast to work so much in New York with Patrick Wimberley and Jesse Harris last year. It sets you out of your comfort zone and gives you a different kind of energy. I also really liked going to all of our friends studios in Paris, getting them involve for a day or two, and try different things on our sessions. It really felt like an endless recess.

Synth History: If you could pick one artist or band to collaborate with, living or dead, who would it be and what kind of song would you make?

Ulysse: If I could make a mid tempo groove track with Brian Wilson and McCartney, I can die happy!

Armand: There’s so many isn’t there? I’d really love to work on songs with a major pop star like Rosalia. I just think she’s so cool.

Synth History Exclusive.

Interview conducted by Danz.


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