By day they are Yale professors, doctors and production company owners. By night, Faded Paper Figures are indie electronic sweethearts. Just in the past six months they've been on tour for their 2014 release Relics, played CMJ and are working on their fifth album.
R. John Williams (guitar and vocals), Kael Alden (bass, guitar, drums, etc) and Heather Alden (vocals) formed FPF during college in 2007. They've put out four criminally catchy indie electronic albums reminiscent of The Postal Service. If you don't know them (which would be a shame) you might recognize their song "North by North," from their first release in 2008.
In the wake of a fifth album, Faded Paper Figures talked to Sound in the Static about weird tour moments, evolving as a band and balancing it all.
What have you been up to since your 2014 release?
Since our small tour in October, we have been relaxing and
enjoying connecting with our fans online. We've also been slowing
thinking up ideas for another video and some new music.
Any plans for more music?
Yes, there will definitely be a small EP released this spring
with a new cover song, a previously unreleased track from the Relics
recordings, and some remixes by friends. Sometime this summer we will
also start thinking about music for album #5!
You formed in college or after? How did you decide to be together?
Yeah, we got together while Heather and John were both attending
UC Irvine. Our first album was recorded at Kael and Heather's
apartment near the college there. Staying together really had a lot
to do with how much fun we had recording and being together, as well
as the enormous success the music has had out in the world. It's of
course very motivating when people respond so well to the music.
How have you evolved as a group since you've formed?
We've evolved personally in a lot of ways, but
musically as well. Even a cursory listen to our four albums will
reveal an evolution from a band just sort of tentatively testing the
waters of electronic composition to a band more confident about the
kinds of sounds and messages it can compose. Which isn't to say we're
not as happy about our first albums (we love them all equally, like
children!), but we do think our tastes and interests have changed over
You all have so many things going on: Med school, Yale professor,
production company...do you find you use inspiration from your field
in your music?
Sometimes those other professions get in the way of doing as much
music (or as many shows) as we'd like to, but in other ways they also
provide a sense of career stability that allows us to focus on music
without the anxiety of dealing with a record label (and all the
treacherous things that go along with that). As far as inspiration,
Kael is always learning new things and acquiring new pieces of gear
that he can use in the music, and John is constantly turning over
ideas in literature and philosophy that inform the music. Heather is,
of course, saving actual lives, so that seems worthwhile whether it
affects the music or not!
I know a lot of beginning bands who also go to school or have
careers elsewhere...what would you say to them about maintaining a
band and a profession?
Just keep at it and make it the way you relax and enjoy yourself.
You could watch that lame reality show on TV, or you could go write a
song. You'll feel better about everything if you write the song.
Looking back on your four albums, which would you say was
the most pivotal?
In terms of "pivotal," probably The Matter, which constituted a
big leap in "sound," as well as in lyrical ambitions. Relics could
not have sounded as effortlessly grand and coherent without our having
busted out of the "small" indie-tronica sounds of Dynamo and New
What was the craziest touring moment?
Oh, probably on one of our first tours when we had a full band
and video equipment, and tried to fit on one of the tiniest stages in
the world (somewhere in Fullerton, CA). We were packed in there so
tightly, we looked like we'd been installed in some kind of Iron Man
robot matrix. No one could even move, let alone dance, haha.
Top song/album of the moment?
It changes day to day, but at the moment we're digging James's
new album Le Petit Mort.
Most influential person to your music?
Lyrically, Morrissey. Musically, probably a mix of Radiohead,
Depeche Mode, New Order, and Pinback.
What are you all hoping to do in the future?
Keep doing what we're doing now! Only to more people.