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Papooz revel in the messiness of life. Tradition calls for the indie folk-rock album to be created from a cabin in the woods, hushed and contemplative, secluded and secretive. Parisian vagabonds Papooz embraced that blueprint while filling their bespoke barn with red wine and close friends. After spending a few months writing in their respective homebound isolation, Ulysse Cottin and Armand Penicaut were determined to infuse the resulting folk-tinged tunes with the intoxicating energy of their riotous live shows and thick-grooved pop. To achieve that fusion, Papooz holed up in La Ferme Records, an all-wood studio in the south of France built by the band’s drummer, Pierre-Marie Dornon. “For a couple of weeks we would re- hearse the songs during the day, and then record at night while drinking red wine”, Cottin says. By chasing positive energy and embracing the moment, Cottin and Penicaut reached new expressive heights on their latest album, None of This Matters Now, due March 18th, 2022 via Half Awake Records.
Finding unexpected joy runs through the DNA of Papooz, powered by the kinetic friendship at the band’s core. The two first met when Penicaut jumped the queue at a Patti Smith show at the Saint-Germain-des-Prés in 2008. Rather than be upset by the interloper, Cottin was drawn to his energy, and the two became fast friends. “We would just be kids, smoke joints, talk shit, play guitar, and make up songs”, Penicaut says. Recorded straight to a laptop, those songs would make their way to Soundcloud and earn a quick following.
That cozy collaborative energy most recently resulted in 2019’s Night Sketches, a critically acclaimed LP fueled by funk, disco, and late nights on the dance floor, Cottin and Penicaut deli- vering sequined hooks on an epic scope. But after wrangling layer upon layer of overdub and precise minutiae, they wanted None of This Matters Now to feel more raw, more natural, and opted for most live takes. “As musicians, we needed to be way more demanding of ourselves. We couldn’t just rely on fixing mistakes later. No one could get distracted by their phone or smoking a cigarette. It’s about focus”, Cottin explains. “Plus it’s way easier to be focused in the room when it’s just your best mates, friends coming to visit late at night”.
That relaxed warmth ripples off the coast of the opening title track, burnished piano and vintage slide guitar perfectly fra- ming their elegiac harmonies. Lyrically, “None of This Matters Now” sets the tone for the album, stepping away from the more character-driven storytelling of Night Sketches and embracing more personal narratives. But even when talking about the pains of divorce as on “Twilight of Your Mind” or the title track’s anxiety over global warming and international meltdown, the duo maintain the poetic daze and penchant for throwing cau- tion to the wind immersed in their catalog. “Armand studied literature, and I’ve always loved poetry, so I think the best songs in life are the more intimate ones”, Cottin agrees.
While the George Harrison-esque slide guitar threaded throughout the album shows that Papooz have retained their love of the Beatles, Ry Cooder, and classic psychedelic pop, the duo’s recent renewed interest in Brazilian music is showcased in the steamy production and lithe rhythms. “Morning Sonata” exemplifies that newfound pulsating pop, the slingshot guitar trailing and diving behind Cottin’s vocals like a slippery smirk. After wrapping their sessions at La Ferme, the duo decamped to Cottin’s Paris flat to put the finishing touches on the album- -always careful to avoid overdoing it with harmonies and other added flourishes. “We would add a little vocal, maybe a little synth, but we wanted to make sure to work around the lead vocal so that it felt alive”, Penicaut says.
As None of This Matters Now nears its end with the pia- no-driven, Randy Newman-indebted neon ballad “Reminis- cence”, Papooz remain on the hunt for the half-full glass of red wine despite all the chaos of modern life. “Give me a reason to live/ With those far off melodies/ I’ve got a reminiscence of all the good times I tend to forget day by day”, Cottin sings, ghostly wordless harmonies following nearby. Throughout the album’s ten songs, the Parisian duo manage the impossible, keeping their endless charm and cool while detailing the depths of the world in lush compositions. In the face of darkness, Papooz make sweetness and celebration feel effortless. But in order to get there, None of This Matters Now throws everything away, preserving only what truly matters now: each other.
Faux Real is the deranged child of Franco-American brothers Elliott and Virgile Arndt.
In the summer of 2018, they invoked the union of their inner-gene genies and gave birth to faux realism.
The brothers started playing their first shows as a duo with nothing but a couple of microphones, a flute, some handmade costumes, and a weird/incestuous/compelling 30-minute long choreography. With no music online or a single confirmed show on the horizon, they took off on a month-long U.S. tour in March 2019, with high hopes and low expectations.
They ended up performing over 30 times that month, from SXSW in Austin to Los Angeles and New York City, performing anywhere and everywhere the city would allow, from large venues to sweaty nightclubs to street corners, house parties, art galleries, illegal raves, or hijacking existing bills with impromptu slots. The two brothers are quickly becoming notorious for their wild, unhinged, retro-futuristic and avant-garde anti-rock performances, ranging from flute-infused 808 ballads to feverish Stooge-esque self-flagellation, tongue-in-cheek english poetry, faux athletics and improvised quasi-ballet.
Faux Real are also becoming known for their charismatic visual identity despite a willingly limited online presence, and have already been shot by some of today’s preeminent music and fashion photographers.
The project sparked up the interest of Jay Watson (Tame Impala, Pond, Gum) who came to work on Faux Real’s first EP, due the fall of 2019. Faux Real’s debut single “Second Sweat” rips through the many joys of social anxiety and panic attacks at a cruising speed of 162 BPM while surfing on motor synth loops, chichi guitars, and gritty slap bass.