Premiere: 'Looks Like a Heart #1' by Sam Paul
Sam Paul is a solo musician out of Denver. While he describes himself as messy bedroom pop, we hear blunt and honest lyrics layered over tracks that allow the words to hit just hard enough. We are so happy to premiere the first EP in a series of four, Looks Like a Heart #1.
Sam recorded nearly everything on this EP in his home studio - aka his bedroom. He said it took him awhile to figure out what made sense, but eventually the process worked itself out. After recording as much of the track as he could, he would send demos over to Ben Pisano (of Corsicana) who would mix the instrumental portion and send it back to record final vocals. After that, he spent lots of time listening to the tracks and taking any additional steps needed, such as bringing in collaborators. In Sam’s words, “Eventually I send it to someone I trust and ask them "does this sound finished?" and they go "yeah man, I dunno," and then we master it.”
Almost everything was done over the internet and in various home studios (bedrooms). Self-producing can be a challenging thing to do normally, but it is maybe even more emphasized when you are working remotely. We asked Sam about his thoughts on self-producing for the first time, and he responded saying:
Some thoughts were things like, "What the fuck am I doing," "This is a dumpster fire," and "Does this sound shitty on purpose, or does this just sound shitty?" Nah, I think the biggest thing was the double edged sword of being able to do whatever I wanted.
When I was younger, one of my guitar teachers used to ask me production-y questions like, what other instruments do you hear with this song? What would this sound like if it was faster, or in a different key? Or what if it had a mo-town feel or a guitar riff, or etc etc etc? This was the first time that I really really had to start answering those questions. It was especially the first time that I had to answer those questions more or less on my own, because up until this point I've been in bands, and hence those decisions were made collaboratively.
It's cool to be able to go as far down a recording rabbit hole as you want to go. It's also extremely isolating and scary. Eventually I always get to this point where I have like no idea if what I'm doing is any good or not, and those are the moments that I most miss having extra ears and brains to bounce things off of. I leaned as much as I could on people like Ben, and other friends who were willing to listen to mixes and give me their thoughts.
Ultimately it's satisfying (terrifying) to be more or less 100% responsible for the final product.
This year, Sam is committing to releasing four EPs in a series. They will be titled Looks Like a Heart #1, #2, #3, and #4. At the end of the year, he is excited to revisit them, trim and prune, and re-mix/re-master all four into an LP called Looks Like a Heart. We asked Sam about why he decided to split this project into four separates EPs:
The whole thing is really inspired by Sufjan Steven's Illinois and Michigan Albums. I love that those albums are long, I love that they have all kinds of different songs on them, I love that they're concept albums about places but you might not know that if you managed to not read the title of the album or anything like that. As a side note - Pedro the Lion just released Phoenix, about David Bazan's childhood home Phoenix, Arizona. This is extra confirmation that albums about places are good.
So the idea is that Looks Like a Heart is my Colorado Album, in a sense. This is the first of the 4 EPs, so I suspect that the themes I'm trying to poke at aren't really fleshed out in these 5 songs yet, but I think they will get there by the end.
This record was mixed and mastered by Ben Pisano. Jenny Shawhan provided backing vocals, and Andrew Rogers played guitar on “Going Bald.” The Introvert's Dilemma was initially tracked by Andy Ard at his home studio. It features Andrew Rogers on guitar, Jamie Beekman on piano + vocals, and Elliott Cook on drums.
Sam Paul is releasing new material in a variety of mediums twice a month in 2019. Keep up with him online: