So a couple months back I was introduced to a brother/sister 80s synth pop outfit out of Brooklyn by the name of Paperwhite, their song “Magic” on instant repeat. They’ve been Hype Machine’s most blogged about and with a few more amazing synth pop jams under their belt (“Take Me Back”, “Got Me Goin”) the duo are set to move on to bigger and better things. I chatted to Ben and Katie about the 80s synth pop resurgence, the best place to grab a philly cheese steak and what their favourite colour of paper was…
So click play and have a read…
Who are Paperwhite and how did Paperwhite happen?
We are Katie and Ben Marshall, a brother and sister duo based in Brooklyn! We have been collaborating on music together throughout the years and we gradually started creating this new sound that we now call Paperwhite. We’ve found that a certain mix of Ben’s production style and my songwriting creates this sound. It all happened very naturally and we’re excited about where it will take us! -Katie
Who’s the older one out of you two, how does that dynamic work out?
Ben is three and a half years older than I am. I’ve always looked up to both of my brothers. (Our brother Sam is a musician as well) Ben has been in the industry longer than I have so I always appreciate and respect his insight and opinions on not only our music but the scene in general. Its really nice to be able to create something with your big bro! -Katie
You’ve obviously got a lot of love for 80s pop, what makes it special for you?
For me, it’s the production aesthetic mixed with great songwriting. There’s something really nice about analog synthesizers and drum machines that really blends nicely with “heart felt” songwriting. -Ben
Who would you say your main influences were?
I would say I draw inspiration from a lot of electronic music. Older bands like Daft Punk, Depeche Mode, Madonna, as well as new bands like Kate Boy, Astr, Broods, Chvrches etc. -Ben
I’m really inspired by artists with a great understanding for melody. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and more recent musicians like Beyonce and Janelle Monae are all people that stand out to me. -Katie
You’re based in Brooklyn and there are a lot of 80s synth pop artists around, what sets you apart? Who are you a fan of?
It’s hard to answer this question without sounding like I’m putting other music down. I think we always try to strike a balance of a “cool” aesthetic/production, but the difference being that we always focus on the song as the most important element. There’s tons of great electronic music out there, but not all of them are “great songs”. -Ben
We’re huge fans of a lot of our friends here in NYC. St Lucia, Panama Wedding and Betty Who are a few of our favs. -Katie
Why do you think 80 synth style pop is having such a moment… at the moment?
I think electronic music in general is having a moment. If you look at some of the most legendary synthesizers and drum machines, they’re almost all from the early 80s. So unless you’re doing everything in the box and using all softsynths, you’re probably going to grab some old Juno or something on ebay. Those classic synth sounds are so signature, and they inspire a certain type of writing and production.
Do the lyrics or the music come first?
The music almost always comes first. I feel that the music you write inspires a certain mood. I try not to write lyrics prematurely because having the aesthetic of the song and the story you’re telling align is very important to us, -Katie
Do you have any songs on repeat at the moment or any artists that you’re redonk excited about to hear more?
I was fairly obsessed with Cazzette’s “Sleepless” for a bit. I’d love to hear more new music from them. -Ben
I’m definitely excited to hear more from ASTR!! Their song “Operate” is one of my favorites to jam out to in the car. Looking forward to what’s next. -Katie
Originally from Philly, where’s the best cheese steak?
Steves Prince of Steak!
Ben, you play drums for Savoir Adore, how is being Paperwhite different?
They’re very different projects. Savoir Adore is a very collaborative, almost “collective” like project. There’s five people in the band, and the music is much more organic. Paperwhite on the other hand is just Katie, a computer, synthesizers and myself. We have a different process and the end result is much more electronic driven. -Ben
I know this is a tough question, and subject to change, but what do you think would be the last song/album you’d want to listen to before…you know… you were gone?
Daft Punk Discovery -Ben
Oh, this is tough. Esperanza Spalding’s album Esperanza is one of my favorite albums ever. It puts me in such a happy place. So I think that might be it! -Katie
Let’s say i’m putting on a star studded super summer festival, who would you pick for headliners?
I saw Janelle Monae recently and she absolutely blew me away. She would definitely be my first pick! -Katie
Would you rather have a puppy sized elephant or an elephant sized puppy?
Elephant sized puppy for sure. That would just be crazy! -Ben
Another tough question! I love elephants so having a mini one would be pretty amazing but I think having a giant puppy you could ride around on would be epic. So giant puppy it is! -Katie
Katy Perry recently wore a pizza onesie which apparently was a pretty big deal, if your music could be styled into a onesie, what onesie would it be?
One of our favourite shows is Adventure Time. We love everything about it, including their awesome electronic jams throughout out the show. Any Adventure Time onesies around? -Katie
What is your favourite colour of paper?
Lets get fancy with some of our favorite colors in general! How about some turquoise paper? -Katie
My favorite color is purple, but purple is probably not easy to write on… -Ben
You were Hype Machine’s most blogged about artist, how does that feel and do you manage to catch most of the coverage?
It feels great to know how much support we’ve been getting from blogs, fans, and everyone really. We are pretty much glued to our phones/computers during release weeks trying to keep up with all the lovely things being written about the project. -Ben
What’s next for Paperwhite? An EP, a Full Length???
I don’t want to pre-maturely promise anything, but we’re currently writing a bunch of new music in the hopes of having an EP ready soon! -Ben
And as this is I Think You’ll Like This Song, what song do you think I should check out?
I’m a huge fan of Kate Boy, so I’d have to say go check out their new single calle “Self Control” -Ben