A Musical Journey

Papadosio streams jazz, electronics, and messages into albums of digital art. The band plays live instrumentation and employs complex electronic sounds. Their latest full-length release, To End the Illusion of Separation, captures their sound, textures, and spirit. The group will be on tour throughout the fall. Vocalist and guitarist Anthony Thogmartin imparts his views on recent electronic music, festivals, and the power of audio platforms such as Youtube.

Jeff Boyce: What are your reservations about digital music and digital enhancements, such as Auto-Tune, in today’s musical landscape?
Anthony Thogmartin: All music you listen to from a CD or mp3 is digitally enhanced. Most of the music on vinyl still underwent some digital treatment either in the tracking or mastering studio. Very rarely is audio you listen to not in some way treated digitally. I'm not that into the sound of AutoTune and never really use it, but I think it has its place. It has an iconic sound and makes people that can't sing sound like weird insects. Especially if it is used to excess.
What I really have reservations about in digital music, namely EDM or whatever, is that there are people on stages that aren't performing their music at all. They are very good at yelling at the crowd and holding their hands up in the air, as well as what we like to call "ghosting," which is when a producer/DJ moves a controller on their equipment, but it’s not attached to anything and doesn't do anything to the music. It’s all just massively fake and pretty embarrassing to be sharing stages with some of these goons.

With video and music websites such as Youtube and SoundCloud, do you think these platforms will take away from the festival or live venue circuit that you all are accustomed to?
Just the opposite. Youtube is a most excellent platform to post live videos of concerts. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "I'll never go to a concert again because now I can watch concerts at home." That's just silly. In fact recently I just watched a Tame Impala show on Youtube and it was so amazing. I'm gonna go to their show in Birmingham in July.

If you can describe your music in one word, what would that be?
Papadosio. ;)

Describe to fans and naysayers about the complexities of working with digital music and electronic instrumentation.
All sounds heard on our albums and live shows are played or triggered physically by a musician. In the live environment, nothing is prerecorded or automated. We are all very busy onstage. With all the devices at our disposal, you would think it would make playing easier, but on the contrary, with every new song we try to pull something off technically that hasn't been tried before. Most people won't even notice this, but I think that challenging ourselves keeps us amped up and engaged. I totally understand people who aren't into the electronic thing because like I said earlier, it is commonly played on stages but rarely performed.

Your latest album To End the Illusion of Separation builds on the 2009 release Observations and talks about the artificial rifts created by mankind along with the need for understanding and peace. What else would you like listeners to pay attention to?
This music was created for people to enjoy. If anything I would like our fans to simply enjoy the music thoroughly and hopefully through that process think about the lyrics and themes offered. This will paint a brighter and clearer image for the listener and hopefully deepen their experience. One way to do this is to get the physical art, (TETIOS features an individual piece made for each song) and take it in while listening.

What is it about the Austin music scene that attracts so many people from around the country?
My guess is that it is a scene where music is happening. A scene doesn't just happen on its own, it takes people willing to sacrifice a lot to build the infrastructure and spend countless hours promoting while losing a lot of money in the process. It’s really a loving act of selflessness to grow a music scene. Think of a town you know where there is not a scene. It is probably because there are not many things there to attract music fans. If you build it, they will come ;)

Any last thoughts for your fans?
Just that there are a lot of things that are on the horizon for us which I can't announce right now, but am very excited to in the very near future. What I can say is that Youtube is gonna be a new creative outlet for us very soon.

by Jeff Boyce

Editor’s note: Anthony Thogmartin also works on EarthCry.net as a side music project. This interview was completed via email.