INTERVIEW: Papi Shiitake discusses his upcoming album – ‘Wabi-Sabi’

INTERVIEW: Papi Shiitake discusses his upcoming album – ‘Wabi-Sabi’

Brooklyn-based indie dream-pop producer and artist Papi Shiitake released his music video, “Do What You Say,” a track lifted from his forthcoming album, Wabi-Sabi, via Trash Casual.

Talking about the video, Papi shares, "It’s actually amazing; when I approached dancer/choreographer Jadée Nikita about doing the piece, I had no idea that she hadn’t performed since the beginning of the pandemic. I like to give artists I work with space and creative freedom, so we just let the cameras roll on the day of shooting. I don’t think Jadée expected to be the sole focus of the video, but it was absolutely mesmerising when we looked at playback. She’s like a bird flying again. Feeling again. It becomes much deeper if you watch her eyes throughout the video, and a new story emerges. It’s very moving.”

Recently featured on MTV’s Spankin’ New, Music Choice, and CBS’ SEAL team, Papi’s new song, “Do What You Say,” blends dreamy, drifting textures riding a sensual Polynesian rhythm. Shimmering hints of surf rock intermingle with sinuous dream-pop layers to form a sophisticated, graceful flow of lush swirling colours. Wistful vocals imbue the lyrics with gliding surfaces and indulgent creamy savours.

“Now it’s just too late / Don’t tell me that you need to stay / Do what you say / Don’t let the sunlight fade.”

Simultaneously erotic and seductive, the video silhouettes a beautiful woman dancing gracefully against various backdrops – water, mountains, the sky, a glorious sunset, and volcanos, giving the visuals surreal motion.

XS Noize caught up with Papi Shiitake to discuss the inspiration for “Do What You Say,” the meaning of his upcoming album’s title, Wabi-Sabi, and more about the Papi Shiitake Universe.

The lyrics in “Do What You Say” feel deeply personal – is the song autobiographical?

Yeah, generally, I’m always writing from events directly in my life. The more honest you can get in song, the closer you can get to the listener. ‘Do What You Say’ is about the sunset of a relationship. Sometimes it feels like an out of body experience. 

Where do you generally find inspiration for your art?

It sounds cliche, but to me, life really is art. So, I’m always looking and listening everywhere. I find that small experiences always seem to mirror the bigger ones. Other than that, I really love pop art, anime, ‘90s culture. Inspiration is often the echo of intention for me.

Did anything unexpected occur while making your upcoming album, Wabi-Sabi? And while we’re on the topic, what’s the meaning behind the name?

It’s actually grown into something that I couldn’t really conceive at first. We did many new production techniques, and I started to think about the album in a different way about halfway through. It’s funny how the longer you take on the album, the more chance it has to grow. Things got much bigger than I had originally intended. But I’m not precious about anything. Anything goes.

The name is based on the Japanese way of thinking regarding “the art of imperfection.” It’s about accepting what isn’t perfect because imperfection is even better in its own way. It’s about being genuine and in the moment, and I love that.

Are you close with any of your Trash Casual labelmates (Elijah Wolf, Dräger, etc.)?

Oh definitely!! I love the Trash Casual fam. We hang and play shows all the time. It’s weird when you’re label like Trash Casual; you really feel connected to everyone on the team. We’re all cheering for each other. It’s a great feeling.

What’s the general feeling in Brooklyn these days – post-pandemic, excitement? Caution? 

Bushwick is WILD right now. There definitely is this sort of hedonistic frenzy happening on the weekends. At first, it was kind of startling, to be honest. But I love cherishing a moment in time.

How did you link up with Jadée Nikita for the new music video?

She’s a good friend of my partner/manager Cat Chung. We talked on the phone and hit it off immediately. I love working with other artists and creators. It really makes the dish so much richer. When people get the vibe, it’s off to the races. I couldn’t be happier about how the video turned out. 

I’ve heard about the Papi Shiitake Universe. Can you shed some light on what that is?

Honestly, the Papi Shiitake Universe is my imagination in action. It’s almost like one giant bucket list. I’m trying to create everything I love about life with a Papi Shiitake twist. It’s incredible having such a supportive team that trusts your vision. I’ve been able to do many fantastic things: animated videos, Muppet videos, and artistic stuff like ‘Do What You Say.’ It’s not just the music. It’s a vibe that permeates everything.

Do you have live shows lined up in support of the new record?

Yeah, I’m actually playing this Friday at The Broadway in Bushwick with my labelmate Drager and Ernesto Hex.

In your own personal, obviously biased opinion (which is ok!), why should people be listening?

Of course, there are a million artists out there, but I’ve got something really special going on. People are really starting to resonate with it, especially in the live shows. It’s one of those things that tastes better the more you have it. Check it out and follow me on Tik Tok and stuff. We were having some fun there.

Follow Papi Shiitake Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | TikTok | Spotify

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