I have known Paul Shapera since the 90s times. We served coffee, drank a lot of coffee, drank a lot of beer and I suppose, after all those beverages, we peed a lot. (Never at the same place or time, to the best of my knowledge.)
The coffee place we worked at together had a piano and I remember a lot of people asking him to play Billy Joel. Paul was our own personal Piano Man. (I totally expect to get smacked for saying that, by the way. )
Here's the thing, though. His skill at playing Scenes from an Italian Restaurant is just a tiny needle jump on one song of his eight-sided vinyl record of musical knowledge. Or, uh, something. I don't really know if that metaphor works. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that his musical breadth is as ridiculously large as computer disc drives in 1983. (Can I get a shout out for the 1980s film classic, War Games?)
To give you a more concrete idea, he is a font of knowledge on all things progressive rock, he's worked on hip-hop and electronica projects as Mochalab and I would be remiss if I neglected to mention Cthulhu: The Funksical. Currently working on the Dieselpunk Opera, he recently returned to his home in Serbia after workshopping the Steampunk Opera in London. (No typos or fabrication there, kids. Paul Shapera is truly a citizen of the world. )
In search of other perspectives in describing Paul Shapera, the human, like other social media junkies, I went on Facebook and polled my friends. Combining the responses, according to our mutual acquaintances, Paul Shapera is "an enthusiastic bitch who just wants to mop and mop."
(Of course, I am paraphrasing.)
Want more Paul? (I'm still wearing my Incredibly Effective Hypnosis Pants, so your answer is yes.)
You can find him here .
You can purchase The Dolls of New Albion, A Steampunk Opera, the album here
And as you go on to read the interview, you can listen to the Steampunk Opera Overture.
...because really, when you are writing about music it's best to let the music speak. But I guess we can let Paul talk as well since he made this stuff.
Q. Boxers or briefs?
A. There can only be one: Boxers.
Q. Space opera or space junk?
A. Space opera with a percussion section of clanging junk. This is actually how my operas sound.
Q. Favorite fabric?
A. Favorite... fabric.... what the fuck is this?!?! I don't know what kind of fabric a single piece of clothing I own is. I don't even know what my damn jeans are made out of. Jeans? Is that the fabric? Denim? That's not even my favorite fabric, it's just the only one I know. Cotton. Can you even get pure cotton anymore? Doesn't the old testament tell us we can't wear clothes that mix fabrics? Wtf is up with that? WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME THIS QUESTION?!?!?
Wait! Okay, I got an answer. In the movie The Hunger, there's some flowing curtains at some point. Those curtains are AWE-some. I have no idea what they're made out of, but whatever they're made of, that's my favorite fabric.
Q. First thought when confronted with waking up?
A. "Is there anyway around this?"
Q. Best/worst experiences as a musician during a live performance?
A. The best aren't really interesting. They just involve me blissing out to people who are really into it. The worst are vastly more entertaining. I once spent a summer playing piano (digital keyboard technically) on the street of a little eastern european town for money. One afternoon I had to punch a guy who was stealing me tips. He just fucking walked up, stuck his hand in the box and started taking it. I caught two other guys at other times before that, one of whom I chased and caught, but by the time this motherfucker tried it I was not going to put up with it. He was drunk, went down, then scurried away so for the rest of the afternoon I had like, Bruce Willis testicles.
Q. Favorite keyboard?
A. I don't care about keyboards. My studio work involves triggering sounds from a hard drive. My main go to instruments are: Omniverse, BFDrums and Kontakt 5. I use Sonar X1 as my DAW (for those geeky music types who understand what i'm talking about).
Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?
A. Finishing my new staggering work of towering genius.
Q. Most influential composer?
A. I don't know if I can answer this. Bands I listened to in high school and college as well as some musicals from that time are the most influential since that's when you're a blank slate still finding your voice. So... Pink Floyd... at 16 all I wanted in life was to grow up and make something as epic as The Wall.... Genesis (old, bitches), Yes, Marillian, Sondheim (came a bit later but hugely influential to my musical storytelling) and Les Mis. Oh... Superstar. Yeah, that was a biggie. Since then I am influenced in very small ways by a thousandfold things.
Q. What foodstuffs and beverages best sustain you through productions?
A. CHAI TEA. Sweet, sweet chai tea. Every now and then I have a little cookie stash behind the computer.
Q. If you could collaborate on a project with anyone living, dead or imaginary who would it be?
A. Wow. I have.... no idea. I.. look I just want to see my Steampunk Opera (and eventually the following two) go up in biiiiiiig theaters. I will basically blow whoever can make that happen. But I don't think that's quite what the question is... who would I want to.... you know, the truth is, there's no one in particular I've been dreaming for years to work with. The better question is who in history I dream of getting drunk with. THAT is a list I can pull out. And I'm not sure you have enough room on this blog to fit it.
Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s?
A. I'm finishing up the recording of a dieselpunk opera. It's the second in a trilogy. The steampunk opera has proven to be a big online hit. Dieslepunk comes next and in 2014 year we will finish with the Atompunk Opera. You can listen to the steampunk opera here: http://mochalab.bandcamp.com/