Brooklyn-based duo Paperwhite knows a thing or two about making a summer jam, and they’ve done it again with the infectious ‘Only Us.’ We chatted with the sibling duo about how a fan accidentally named their band, when we can expect new music and what the heck ‘dream-pop’ even means!
This conversation with Ben and Katie Marshall of Paperwhite has been edited and condensed for clarity, and you can click through the gallery for pics from their visit to HollywoodLife.com. Catch them in NYC on Friday, July 7 at Rough Trade!
How did Paperwhite come about?
Ben Marshall: I went to school for music, so when I graduated, my dream and goal was to be a touring drummer and hopefully connect with a band. But over the years I gravitated towards more production and writing. It was a natural progression for me. The birth of Paperwhite was me wanting to do the entire production.
What about the band name?
Katie Marshall: I was living in LA after college, and the vibe for the project was starting, so we were calling each other nonstop trying to figure out what the band would be called, and writing music.
Ben: The Internet ruined band names, because everything we could come up with, we’d Google it and there’d be like three bands called that.
Katie: Then I wrote a song called “Paperwhites” and posted a clip of it on Instagram, and someone wrote, “Hey, I love the name of your band.” I was like, “Oh!” We changed it from “Paperwhites” to “Paperwhite” but that’s how it happened. It’s also a type of flower, so the song was a personification of that.
So funny. What do you think about people calling your sound “dream pop?”
Ben: I think we started getting labeled that, and we realized that it does fit. The world that we think about when we’re writing the music, at least from a production aesthetic, is sort of supernatural. It doesn’t have to make sense in a reality-based way. It’s not just organic or just electronic, it’s a blend of both.
Katie: As a singer, I’m not a big belter, and I think the dreaminess of the production surrounds the voice.
Have you started working on the next EP?
Katie: Things are evolving right now. We’re taking a step back and reassessing our time a bit.
Ben: So there will be an EP eventually, but we’re not sure when yet.
What are you thinking of focusing on with it?
Ben: The first EP was sort of space themed, and the second was down on earth. The next progression is, what if we start writing about human nature and the human condition?
Let’s talk about “Only Us.” What’s that song about?
Katie: A lot of times we write songs that can be perceived in different ways, so anyone listening can feel what they want to feel.
Ben: It might be specific to us, but the beauty of a metaphor is you can interpret it whatever way.
Katie: It’s written like a love song, wanting to go back to a time when things were simpler and more nostalgic. When you could just be with someone else. But it can be open to any interpretation!
What can we expect from your NYC show on July 7?
Katie: A lot of dancing and fun.
Ben: We’ll have new songs we’ve never played before…
Katie: It’ll be the first time playing “Only Us” live, and we have a song that we’re thinking of making the next single.
What’s the weirdest show you’ve ever played?
Katie: The only time we played in Hoboken, NJ, I think two people came. Our friends were the other band performing, so we watched their set and they watched ours. Luckily, it wasn’t too far, so it’s not like we traveled!
Do you ever collaborate with other artists?
Ben: We do sessions with other people. We try to keep it open-ended because it’s weird to go into a room and say, “This is going to be a Paperwhite song,” or, “This is going to be a song for Katy Perry,” so we just write with the intention of making something cool.
Who makes you starstruck?
Katie: Rihanna or Beyonce.
Ben: I was at VidCon last year and any time I saw someone YouTube famous, I was like, “Oh, my God.” The people I was with had no idea who they were. I was like, “You’ve never seen that guy before? He flips out on camera about video games!”
It’s kind of easy, with everything that gets filmed in New York.
Katie: I did see Tracy Morgan on the street yesterday and they were filming. I wanted to be like, “Hey, Tracy!!”
Ben: My dream would be to see Billy Eichner doing Billy on the Street.
Katie: He would definitely yell at us.
Ben: I had a friend who had something filming on her street. They asked her to leave her light on and according to union rules, they had to pay her like $700 a day to leave it on, plus pay for the electricity bill. She made like two grand for turning the light on.
Katie: I’m on the fourth floor, so they’d never see my light.
What’s your secret pop pleasure?
Katie: Justin Bieber‘s last album is really great.
Ben: I listen to Bruno Mars a lot.
Katie: That is not a guilty pleasure.
That definitely doesn’t count!
Katie: I like the new Calvin Harris, too. I appreciate him wanting to go more retro as opposed to the standard EDM.
If someone hasn’t heard you before, what song should they listen to first?
Katie: “Only Us.”
Ben: Yes, it’s the most fresh and clear representation of the music we want to be making right now.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
Katie: We’re excited about releasing new music and hopefully, some more touring in the fall!