Lucas Nathan (born circa 1990),[1] better known by his stage name Jerry Paper, is an American songwriter and producer. He began producing electronic music in 2009 to eliminate his distaste for the genre. His first projects were Zonotope™ and the noise music project Diane Kensington Devotional Band. He then formed his most notable alias, Jerry Paper, in 2012.

Jerry Paper
Birth nameLucas Nathan
Also known as
  • Zonotope™
  • Jerry Paper
Born1990 (age 29–30)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Songwriter
  • producer
Years active2009–present
Labels
  • Orange Milk
  • Bayonet Records
  • Digitalis Limited
  • Patient Sounds
  • Hausu Mountain
  • birdFriend
  • The Curatorial Club
  • Hobo Cult
  • Samling
  • MABA Tapes
  • Dœs Are
  • Stones Throw

Early lifeEdit

Nathan said that as a kid, he was influenced to learn music by the fact that "all [his] friends were making music."[6] He learned how to play The Simpsons Theme on the piano when he was five, played bongos for his school band and was also a drummer.[6] Shortly after he learned how to play the Misfits song "London Dungeon" on bass guitar in eighth grade, he made psychedelic folk recordings in his bedroom with Sony Acid among performing in various bands at school.[6] The first group he was in was a comedy rock band named The Corrupt Ice Cream Vendors.[6] He also got into several noise and psychedelic acts like Growing and Devendra Banhart in his teen years thanks to being exposed to them via the magazine Arthur, and later got into free jazz and krautrock.[6] Nathan originally wanted to perform in the "cool band[s]" that he saw at school and at his summer camps, but he was turned down by all of them due to his "nerdy" looks, which influenced him to become a solo artist.[6]

CareerEdit

2009–2012: Zonotope™ and Diane Kensington Devotional BandEdit

Nathan stated that as a "pretentious teenager," he "refused to listen to anything that wasn’t 1966 to 1968."[6] Therefore, it was "part of [his] personality" that he despised electronic music.[6] By the time he was experimenting with his friend's Roland HS-60 synthesizer, however, Nathan reports in an interview that he was fascinated by the sounds it produced.[6] This inspired him to make electronic music as a way of taking the "challenge" of "find[ing] a way to like" the genre.[6] Nathan began producing music in 2009,[1] and his first project was Zonotope™, a four-album "propaganda series" promoting a Southern California-based "alternative spiritual community"[6] named the Temple of Pure Information and Mainframe Devotion.[7] He also had a noise project named Diane Kensington Devotional Band, which depicts Nathan as a female who starts the Wellness Group.[7][5] It's for a fictional religion based on traveling into the unaccessible-to-most infinite "space between the 1 and the 0" through a method named "Trance Channels."[5][7]

2012–present: Jerry PaperEdit

The name of Jerry Paper first appeared in the credits of the Zonotope™ album Excellent Realms (2010), where Paper was given a "special thanks" for "building The Mainframe."[8][6] The story of the project involves Paper quitting from the spiritual community setting of Zonotope™ to find a "less orthodox alternative spirituality."[6] Nathan described the music of Jerry Paper as "slightly less abstract" than his works for Zonotope™, and the project's titular character is caused by a "ritual" that transforms Nathan into Jerry Paper.[1] Paper often wears a garland and a silk robe[1] and acts like a "weirdo" who does "whatever the hell he wants," such as become "romantically involved with a giant chameleon" and dance "like someone who just discovered movement five minutes ago," Koen van Bommel stated.[9]

Nathan explained that he wrote International Man of Misery (2013), "a cartoonish version of depression," as a way to poke fun on the "ridiculously melodramatic thoughts" he went through at the time.[2] Fuzzy Logic (2013) is about how modern living is complicated by technology and politics.[2]

Feels Emotion, released on February 11, 2014,[10] involved Nathan taking on, as Decoder magazine put it, more "ambitious" production techniques than his previous albums such as in sampling, an example being the cat sounds on "Holy Shit."[2] The LP also has some tracks where Nathan focused on non-repetitive pop structures instead of the typical verse–chorus form, including "I Feel Emotions," "Unless It’s," "Other Please," and "Heartbreak Module #3."[7]

On August 24, 2014, Nathan released what he considered his "first successful concept album," the Jerry Paper LP Big Pop For Chameleon World,[11] a soundtrack for his Unity game Dr. Javer's Genneheigen's Chameleon World.[12] The album explores simulacra, looking for what "the dividing line" is between a real object or a simulated version of it.[1] In doing so, it uses synthesized replications of acoustic instruments, such as a square wave keyboard sound meant to be a harpsichord texture.[1] According to The Fader, the use of these sounds gives the album a more "uncanny" vibe than Nathan's previous releases.[1]

2015–presentEdit

The same palette of instruments were later used on his next album Carousel (2015).[6]

For making Carousel, Nathan wrote the songs in the same manner as for his previous release; however, the analog keyboard Nathan usually used for creating his music had broke, meaning he had to rely on digital synthesizer sounds for Carousel.[6] He said the album consisted of a bunch of "hilarious sounds."[6] As he described making the LP's lead single, "I was just trying to come up with the funniest sounds to go together – like tubular bells, and standup bass, and harpsichord, and then it goes into disco funk."[6]

Toon Time Raw! was recorded with the band BADBADNOTGOOD at their studio in Toronto.[13] The band acted as his anonymous backing band, being billed as "Easy Feelings Unlimited". Toon Time Raw! involves anthropomorphic animals dealing with human issues.[6] The record was performed with a record release party on June 19, 2016 at Brooklyn's art gallery place Secret Project Robot.[3] It was Nathan's first headlining performance that he performed with a backing band, which was hugely different from his previous live performances where he sang with machines performing the backing tracks.[3] As Madison Bloom of Audiofemme covered the event, "it was an evening of undeniably odd birds, but what a wonderful thing to see when so many modern bands are required to be ultra slick and fronted by supermodels," and the band's setup had "great versatility via keyboards, guitar, pedal effects, and flute."[3]

On September 15, 2017, American rapper Kari Faux released "Gotta Know,"[14] a track from her extended play Primary.[15] Nathan produced the track under the Jerry Paper pseudonym and also received a "featuring" credit on the song.[15] Faux noticed his work via the "suggested artists" feature on Spotify, and, as she explained, she "was stuck on his music for a good three months, that was all I was listening to, and I would catch myself rapping to him."[16] This led her to contacting Nathan via Twitter before the two came together personally in Los Angeles to collaborate. [16]Like a Baby was released in 2018. "Your Cocoon" and "Grey Area" debuted on the website Bandcamp as promotional singles for the album, which features Weyes Blood and Charlotte Day Wilson as collaborators. According to the Stones Throw Records website, the album delves into existential topics pertaining to "the endless human cycle of desire and satisfaction".[17]

Musical style and philosophiesEdit

"[Richard Rorty] wrote this excellent short book that I think everyone should read called Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. In it he talks about how philosophy is futile and an outdated vocabulary to try to get things that we can’t get. What he proposes is narrative as an alternative-- to philosophy, to religion, an alternative to basically all moral or philosophical constructs. And I am heavily invested in this idea. I focus a lot on, instead of trying to explain mystical experience, to try to create a context and a vocabulary that maybe gets at it slightly more. And I feel that way with music as well."

— Nathan on the philosophy he uses to produce his music[7]

During his teen years living in Los Angeles, Nathan visited several Scientology and Mormon centers.[1] It was during this time that he got into direct experience, the idea that language cannot clearly state what someone gains via sensory perception.[1] This, as well as his love for the "ritual" of religion, would later become the basis of how he develops his music: "Musical sounds act as symbols, but they carry information that can bypass linguistic processing. That was my main focus. I wanted to investigate that freaky idea."[1] He explained that "instead of trying to explain mystical experience," he "tr[ies] to create a context and a vocabulary that maybe gets at [a philosophy] slightly more."[7]

Nathan is into the idea of fuzzy logic, or what goes on between the binary numbers of zero and one. His Diane Kensington project and the title track of the Jerry Paper album Fuzzy Logic is based on the concept.[5] As he opined, "Binaries are a very helpful way to deal with things. They’re a pretty good tool when it comes to categorizing the world and figuring things out. But it’s not actually how the world works."[5] Another primary purpose for Nathan making music is to keep "put[ting] [him]self in uncomfortable situations."[7]

Nathan's reason for producing and performing music under alter egos like Jerry Paper is that they help him figure out more about his actual self:

I feel like having the alter ego allows me to be even more of myself, whereas I feel like Lucas Nathan, who I am in everyday life, changes based on the scenario and who I’m talking to. I have to be polite, I have to be a normal member of society. But with Jerry, he’s not real, he can be anything.[9]

 
The works of Henry Cowell (pictured) inspired Nathan to play with the limitations of pop music.

Nathan stated in an interview with The Editorial Magazine that he feels machines are just as human as actual human beings due to having "a lot of quirks."[5] This translates into Nathan's musical style, which Bloom described as "genre-less" but compared to Daft Punk in that it combines the "coldness of technology with the foolproof warmth of human music."[3] Nathan explains that musically, his works play around with the limitations of pop music.[7] This limitation aspect of his works was inspired by the piano-only works of Henry Cowell: "He has that piece, "The Banshee," where he’s scrapping his finger nails on the piano strings. Fucking incredible. He used the piano in a different way."[7] This is why that, until Toon Time Raw!,[6] he didn't use MIDI software because he would've otherwise "ha[d] a huge amount of choices."[7]

Music productionEdit

Nathan spends most of his home time recording in his bedroom, which consists of only one mattress and two cardboard boxes that serve as his "closet."[2] As he explained, he gets "static anxiety" to finish a project once he starts work on it: "I’d have to say that in each song I write, I have fun for maybe 10 minutes max out of the who-knows-how-many hours I put in. The motivation is not the pleasure of doing but the satisfaction of finishing."[2] The drum machines he uses varies from album to album, although there have been certain machines he used consistently since he started his Jerry Paper project such as Taal Tarang Digital kicks and Roland TR-727 percussion.[2] He also avoids using loops or repeated parts in his works: "I feel like setting that limitation for myself makes me write and record different kind of songs than those I’d write if they were based on loops."[2]

ThemesEdit

Nathan, in both his songs and the music videos for them, takes on comic views of real life because, in his words, the "world isn’t so serious."[9] All of Nathan's music attempts to get a view of alternate universes,[6] and "because I feel that music isn’t really the arena for truth, I often write lyrics focusing on the irrational," he said.[2] In terms of live stage performances, Nathan dances in comic yet profound routines and delivers, in a deadpan tone, indifferent aphorisms that are also in the lyrics of his songs.[3] As he said while performing live at his release party for Toon Time Raw!, “It’s great to be alive. But having a body is sooo annoying. But you are a body, so…fuck it."[3]

A common major theme in Nathan's records is anxieties, how they "feel very immediate and true in the moment but in hindsight often register as products of absurd logic."[2] The lyrics of his works represent feelings of hopelessness and concern of where to go in life in the future, which are translated "into a subtly self-aware revision of easy listening," Decoder analyzed.[2] As Bloom stated, "Though wearing the guise of empathetic AI and employing tools of the Muzak genre such as keyboard saxophone and elevator synths, he manages to make sincere, and more importantly good music that is relatable to humans and algorithms alike."[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nathan went to Manhattan when he began attending The New School in 2008 to study sociomusicology and philosophy of religion.[1] He lived in Brooklyn as of 2014,[1] but relocated back to California in 2016.[3] He is married.

DiscographyEdit

As Jerry PaperEdit

Studio albumsEdit

List of studio albums with details
Title Album details
Vol. I
Fuzzy Logic
Feels Emotions
Big Pop For Chameleon World
Carousel
Like a Baby

Collaborative albumsEdit

List of collaborative albums with details
Title Album details
Toon Time Raw! (with Easy Feelings Unlimited)

Mini-albumsEdit

List of mini-albums with details
Title Album details
International Man of Misery

Split albumsEdit

List of split albums with details
Title Album details
The Now Sound For Today's Lovers / Turn Of The Century (with Andy Boay)

Remix albumsEdit

List of remix albums with details
Title Album details
Big Pop Traveler's Delight

SinglesEdit

As featured artistEdit
List of singles as featured artist, showing year released and album name
Title Year Album
"Gotta Know"
(Kari Faux featuring Jerry Paper)[14][15]
2017 Primary

Music videosEdit

List of music videos, with director
Title Year Director
"Chameleon World"[27] 2014 Misha Spivack, Hunter Steinman
"Real. Now. Love."[28] 2015 Campbell Logan

As Zonotope™Edit

Studio albumsEdit

List of studio albums with details
Title Album details
Excellent Realms
Zero Gravity
Human Unity
MAINFRAME'S Tetralogy

Extended playsEdit

List of extended plays with details
Title Album details
Cruising Through the Hypersphere of Resonance

Split albumsEdit

List of split albums with details
Title Album details
I Fell in Love With a Cyborg (with Panabrite)

Reissue albumsEdit

List of reissue albums with details
Title Album details
MAINFRAME'S Tetralogy

As Diane Kensington Devotional BandEdit

Studio albumsEdit

List of studio albums with details
Title Album details
Worship and Festival Music for MAINFRAME Devotees Vol. 37
34 Wordless Mantras For Augmented Ascension Meditation And Silencing Your Inner Monologue

Extended playsEdit

List of extended plays with details
Title Album details
...And Her Ministry of Digital Devotees

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Joyce, Colin (October 15, 2014). "But Still, Who The Heck Is Jerry Paper?". The Fader. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Pavlovic, Dwight (February 4, 2014). "How Do I Feel What I’m Thinking: A Conversation with Jerry Paper’s Gracious Host Body". Decoder. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bloom, Madison (June 23, 2016). "Only Noise: The Weird World Of Jerry Paper". Audio Femme. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  4. ^ Geffen, Sasha (September 8, 2014). "Jerry Paper, “Chameleon World”". Impose. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Mallet, Whitney. "Jerry Paper". The Editorial Magazine. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Vargas, Mauricio (June 27, 2015). "Interview with Jerry Paper". Blaaah. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gallego, Miguel (February 11, 2014). "To Be An Ironist is a Beautiful Thing: A Conversation with Jerry Paper". AdHoc. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Excellent Realms". Zonotope™ Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Van Bommel, Koen (July 17, 2015). "Lucas Nathan on Jerry Paper". Subbacultcha. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Feels Emotions". Jerry Paper Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Big Pop For Chameleon World". Jerry Paper Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  12. ^ "Download World". Bozo Endeavors. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  13. ^ "REVIEW: Jerry Paper - Toon Time Raw!". Thrdcoast. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  14. ^ a b Tulay, Rasheed (September 15, 2017). "Kari Faux collaborates with Jerry Paper for "Gotta Know" [Video]". Earmilk. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c A. Berry, Peter (September 26, 2017). "Stream Kari Faux’s ‘Primary’ EP". XXL. Townsquare Media. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Carvalho, Mariana (November 21, 2017). "Kari Faux Is the Rapper You’ll Regret Sleeping on This Year ". Highs Nobiety. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  17. ^ "Jerry Paper - Like a Baby". Stones Throw. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Vol. I". Jerry Paper Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  19. ^ "Fuzzy Paper". Jerry Paper Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  20. ^ "Carousel". Jerry Paper Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  21. ^ "Like a Baby". Jerry Paper Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 19, 2018.
  22. ^ "Toon Time Raw!". Jerry Paper Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  23. ^ "International Man of Misery". Jerry Paper Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  24. ^ "The Now Sound For Today's Loversy". Jerry Paper Official Bandcamp. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  25. ^ "TAPE: Jerry Paper / Andy Boay". Hausu Mountain Official Website. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  26. ^ "Big Pop Traveler's Delight". birdFriend Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  27. ^ D. McDermott, Patrick (September 9, 2014). "Watch Synth-Pop Oddball Jerry Paper’s “Chameleon World” Video". The Fader. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
  28. ^ Mashurova, Nina (January 7, 2015). "Jerry Paper, “Real. Now. Love.”". Impose. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  29. ^ "Zero Gravity". Zonotope™ Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  30. ^ "Human Unity". Zonotope™ Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  31. ^ "MAINFRAME'S Tetralogy". Zonotope™ Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  32. ^ "Cruising Through the Hypersphere of Resonance". Zonotope™ Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  33. ^ "I Fell in Love With a Cyborg". Zonotope™ Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  34. ^ "Zonotope". Samling-Recordings Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  35. ^ a b "Worship and Festival Music for MAINFRAME Devotees Vol. 37". Zonotope™ Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  36. ^ "34 Wordless Mantras For Augmented Ascension Meditation And Silencing Your Inner Monologue NOW! Vol. 1: Deep Listening Party + 32 Wordless Mantras For Augmented Ascension Meditation And Silencing Your Inner Monolgue NOW! Vol. 2: Immersion In "Secret Harmonics"". Zonotope™ Official Bandcamp. Retrieved November 24, 2017.