Q&A with Paper Beat Scissors

Paper Beat Scissors - Briggins

Tim Crabtree, a.k.a. Paper Beat Scissors, plays his Halifax release show for Go On tonight at the Seahorse Tavern ($10/7:30 pm early show). His sophomore album came out August 14 via Forward Music. We grabbed a caffeinated beverage at Java Blend in the North End of Halifax the day before his show. Please note the Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

Where did you do the recording for Go On?

All over the place. With the first demos, I wanted to makes sure that I was recording them in a place where I could get really good results, working with somebody who really knew what they were doing so that whatever we got from that process would be useable in a future situation.

I knew we’d re-record a bunch of this stuff, but I really wanted good takes of everything because sometimes there’s an energy there when you’re first recording things that you’re never going to capture again. The process was set up to catch that.

Different parts of the album were recorded in Halifax, Montreal, Riverport (NS) and London (Ont.).

Has the experimental Canadian label Backward Music that you work with influenced the music you’re making now?

Not really, I think it’s more the other way around. I was interested in being involved in the Backward Music stuff because I had an interest in electronic and experimental music. I was really into all of those Warp records acts in the early 2000s like Aphex Twin, Autechre and Squarepusher.

Even recording wise, I hadn’t been doing the electronic stuff for a while. On the first album there were hints, but because it was a live album process, it didn’t make as much sense to involve those elements. But it was something I really wanted to do on this album because it had taken a back seat.

I did an EP in 2009, Blinker, which has a couple very electronic-tinged pieces on it. I got involved with Backward because I had an interest and it’s allowed me to focus on it a little more explicitly. The interest preceded the label.

With Go On, there’s a lot of forward motion in the lyrics and sound. Were there any influences that made this constant motion creep into your music thematically and lyrically?

When I’m writing songs, I have to not focus too directly on them. I have to separate myself from the process to get things done and feel comfortable about them. As soon as I start paying too much attention, I feel like whatever magic is there is lost. It’s really only after I finish the songs that I can look back and see what it is about.

I don’t necessarily sit down to intentionally write a song about a certain subject, but whatever’s going on in my life is going to come out in some way.

I have been non-stop travelling for the past few years, so there could be some sort of elements from that.

Do your lyrics come in towards the end of the recording process? How do they fit into your songs?

They’re often the last thing that get finalized, but typically the cooler ones will be there from the start. I’ll be playing the guitar or another instrument and singing, and it’ll be the way certain guitar lines and vocal lines inter-weave. But also certain words or sounds will come across as an idea I want to work with.

It’s the hardest thing to finalize because there is a need to make some kind of sense. It gets analyzed way more than the instrumental content of songs.

Photo: Jonathan Briggins/Mixtape Magazine

About Jonathan Briggins 70 Articles
Editor-in-chief of Mixtape magazine.