Interview: Papi Shiitake | Young people

Interview: Papi Shiitake |  Young people

New York dream-pop singer and producer Papi Shiitake recently revealed his new single/video, “Mexican Moonlight”, a track taken from his upcoming album, Wabi-Sabidue for release November 18 via Trash Casual.

Talking about “Mexican Moonlight”, Papi says: “Traveling is one of the best things you can do as an artist. I recorded ‘Mexican Moonlight’ on the beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula in 2020. Writing on the beach is one of my favorite things to do. The rhythm of the ocean is very inspiring to me. There happened to be a full moon the night I wrote ‘Mexican Moonlight’. Honestly, I felt like I was writing the song with the moon itself. It was absolutely magical.”

Fanatical of Asian art and culture, Papi collaborated with artist Sedryung Hong on the animated music video.

Papi explains: “I love collaborating with artists. It is one of the greatest joys of my life. I came across China-based Sedryung Hong’s work when he was looking for someone to create the ‘Wabi-Sabi’ look. They were doing amazing, intricate scenes with this amazing kawaii vibe that I loved. We developed these four characters together and started dreaming about the world of ‘Wabi-Sabi’. Originally I wanted the vinyl cover to be animated using AR technology, but it was kind of boring so we put that in the ‘Mexican Moonlight’ video. I have to make my own Pixar short, so I’m really happy.”

Papi’s music has been featured on popular TV shows such as 9-1-1 and Seal Team and racked up thousands of views and streams on YouTube and Spotify.

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Laced with dreamy, kaleidoscopic flavors of the ’60s, “Mexican Moonlight” unfolds in creamy, floating textures, riding an infectious rhythm topped by Papi’s evocative, meditative vocals.

The Young Folks caught up with Papi Shiitake to find out more about the inspiration behind “Mexican Moonlight”, his creative and innovative videos, and his fascination with anime.

What are three things you can’t live without?

Music, marijuana and iced tea from Arizona. It’s honestly the holy trinity for me. It’s kind of like Popeye eats spinach and gets stronger. That’s what he does for me.

What inspired your new single/video, “Mexican Moonlight?”

I was on a trip to the beaches of Mexico in 2020 and it was a full moon. She spoke to me and whispered the melody of the song to me. How could I refuse? The video is really an extension of the album cover and the world of Wabi-Sabi that I created with artist Sedryung Hong.

I like the anime aesthetic of this video (and some of the others). What motivated you to follow this path?

Man, I LOVE anime. Something about it really resonates with me. I remember being super young and watching Toonami on Cartoon Network and I was hooked. Part of being Papi Shiitake is valuing what resonates with you and Asian art does that for me.

Many of their videos have an imaginative feel and avoid the mundane look of most videos. What made you choose to be so creative?

I’ve really tried to be ‘normal’ for a long time, but it’s really hard to try to fit in. Part of my ethos is being true to who you are. That genuine spirit. The real you. Whenever I’m ‘trying’ to be something I ‘should’, I know I’m on the wrong track. Creativity and truth are my compasses.

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How did you get started in music?

Ha-ha. I started playing in a band before I even knew how to play. I experienced a lot of hate and racism as an Asian child growing up in a small town. Playing music in a band was the first time people started to accept me and understand me for who I am. Once that happened, I never looked back.

Where you are from? Did your hometown impact your sound?

I’m from a very small town in Virginia. There are no music venues anywhere, so the only way for us to play shows was in these band battles that different schools would perform. It really made me super competitive about art and music. People say art is not a competition, but I’m not so sure. lol

Did your sound evolve naturally or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?

I’m always looking at the horizon, and by the nature of just looking, you kind of naturally drift there. I knew I wanted to be the bigger album than ‘Quarantine Dream’. But in a way, what you want and what art wants are not always the same thing. Songs are like children; they have their own desires besides their father’s.

What inspires your writing? Are you inspired by poems, music or other media?

For me, life is art and art is life. Inspiration can come in the form of a scene, a smell, or even something as simple as your breakfast. I never stop being an artist and, as an artist, I never stop being inspired by life.

Which artists do you think are rocking right now?

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I’m really into Still Woozy, Kali Uchis and Toro y Moi right now. They are all so talented and seem to be so free. Great melodies and amazing vibes. Want to be friends with all of them.

How do you define success?

Freedom and respect. Being able to make art that moves your soul and having people appreciate it is the most magical feeling in the world. Making a song that people start their morning with. Something like that you know. I want to make you feel something you’ve never felt before.

What can your fans expect over the next six months?

‘Wabi-Sabi’ will be released in November!! There are more videos, amazing music and some surprises. I’m playing NYC for the next few months and then I hope to go on tour!

Follow Papi Shiitake Instagram | twitter | Facebook | Spotify


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