GIITTV Introducing: papercranes

Bill Cummings spoke to Rain Phoenix about her project papercranes, new album Let’s Make Babies in the Woods and what music means to her.

For more information on the project, see Rain’s Preaching From the Pews entry.

Hey there, how are you?
I’m happy to be alive on this planet in 2011!

How would you describe the sound of papercranes to a newcomer of your work?
I have a hard time using words to explain music, to me it’s felt. And depending on the person, the interpretation is quite different. My hope is for people to connect to my music on a personal level.

Over what period was your new album Let’s Make Babies in the Woods recorded? Who appears in the papercranes band?
It was recorded in about 3 months in Los Angeles.  We recorded in one week bursts because we all had to travel to LA. I recorded it with my Florida  papercranes (Robb Buono, Andy Lord, Myles Matheny and Mike Amish). Now, I perform it live with my LA papercranes (Norm Block, Kirk Hellie, Todd Dahlhoff, Dave Palmer, Dan Komin, Jason Borger, Ameena Khawaja and Matt Cooker).

Was there any specific inspiration behind the emergence of the set?
I note there are themes of landscapes, and naturalistic imagery used as metaphors for thoughts, feelings and happenings in your life. How do these emerge? Do you have a particularly poetic sensibility?

I’ve always written lyrics from the ‘stream of consciousness’. Or, our collective unconscious. I find I’m more honest when I just let the words come from there. It’s like a short cut to what I’m really feeling without the burden of thinking it through and engaging my ego.

Nature does come up a lot on a metaphorical level; which I attribute to truth as well. What’s more honest than nature? It makes no effort to hide. It just is.

Many are drawn in by the power of your voice, did you ever have lessons?
Singing came naturally to me from a very young age. I’m grateful for this gift! I took a few lessons to explore the technical and studied parts of voice. I audited voice at University for a semester. Learned Italian and German art Songs. That was a great experience. I’m glad I tried it… I admit I abandoned most of the ‘technique’ I learned
from coaches. To me the pleasure of singing is not knowing how you’re doing it. Letting it overtake you.

“Sea Red” is a urgently powerful, bold, track – it reminds me of standing on the edge of the world and screaming my lungs out as a way of escape from a particularly bad experience. What is it actually about and how did emerge as a piece?
Wow. Thank you! I was in the middle of a fight with the producer and brought  to rage and tears while tracking the vocals. He was pushing me, trying to get me angry enough to honestly sing my guts out. I’m thankful to him for that. The song was written off the cuff lyrically. Generally I interpret my songs at a later date. And I like that the listener can do the same. For me “Sea Red” is about the anger of being in a relationship while having the sense you’re being lied to. It’s also about patience and forgiveness. It’s always worth the wait to get the truth even if it

Are you influenced by the blues at all? I also saw references to indian instrumentation? Are you keen to expand your sonic pallette?

“Long Way” is apparently about trying to lose yourself in the music again…Do you find that music can act as a therapy for yourself? And can you kind of leave some of the past behind, once its out there?
Absolutely. Music is therapy. Especially live performance. When the show sounds and feels great to me and to you watching-that’s when it becomes an active and electric collective therapy. My favorite music energy.

I note that tracks like “Headphones” and “Synapses” are really stripped back and personal, was that your intention to declutter the sound on those occasions and allow your expression to shine through?
This was our experimental record. And by that I mean, we had no idea what we were going to have the songs sound like. We wanted the songs to tell us. We would go down one road and if it didn’t feel right, strip awAy sounds or add them, till we reached a harmonious chaos or honest mess.

How would you compare this new record to your debut? Whats been the progression in sound?
I had sung other peoples words till papercranes so the first record was important in that I realized I could write.  This record is important because it hurt and I grew. I wanted to explore the concept of how ‘not’ to make a record. Turn everything upside down and sideways-less concerned with the proper way to record an instrument, more concerned  with the emotion behind it. It was an incredible experience. I feel it helped me to be a better person overall. More productive and creative for example Let’s Make Babies in the Woods has had babies or children by way of
3 concept EP’s available for free download on our site. They are connected to LmBW thematically. Just as children are connected to their parents. “First Born” is available now. “Middle Child” is coming soon. Then the “Baby” tbd in the fall.

Can you tell us about your charity Gift Horse Project which features a rotating line-up  (including Warpaint’s Emily Kokal, Chris Stills, Joe Sumner, Royston Langdon and Jenny O)
It is one of the most inspiring  experiences to collaborate versus compete with your peers. All the more satisfying joining forces while giving back to artistic charities. Gift Horse Project is a rotating artist collective and so with every rotation we are exposed to many and varied talented artist/musicians. I love when people go on to work together again and continue collaborating. For more info visit

Have you ever thought about touring the UK sometime soon(I had to ask)?
Thought about it?! We are obsessed with it! Really, the UK is where we’d most like to play! We are working on some dates in October/November.

How have your other experiences in the world of entertainment informed your musical career do you think?
Art is art no matter the form. So yes. It’s all connected.

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