Papooz popped up in the spring of 2015, playing smooth melodies and rhythms that swayed the hips with a pop spirit tinged with an exotic je ne sais quoi. Hailing from Paris, Ulysse and Armand both grew up with music from the 70s, digging in their parents’ record collections from The Beach Boys to The Velvet Underground. They became inseparable friends, both keen on music. They called themselves Papooz because they liked the way it sounded, along with the tropical tone in it and the recollection of a Native American tribe’s cradle.
We caught up with Papooz's Ulysse and Armand to learn more about their recent successes and new EP!
PopWrapped: What would you say makes you different from all the other bands and artists out there today?
Papooz: Difficult question! We do sound like other bands, but the association of our two different personalities makes something quite unique.
The real characteristic of our live [music] is that it's really energetic and generous. We’re sweating on our guitars, we’re dancing and having fun.
PW: At what age did you first realize you wanted to be performers? Was there an album you listened to or concert you attended that inspired you?
Ulysse: I think it is mainly the jazz & rock n'roll singers who gave me this desire to be on stage live and use my craziness and my energy in a musical way. You know, people like James Brown, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles, etc. My mother used to listen a lot of music and cool bands when I was a child, so it kind of stayed in my sub-conscience. It has always been exiting to play live.
Armand: In my teens. We both were fans of the whole revival rock scene, Jack White, The Strokes, The Libertines. They were huge in France, and many of our friends were starting high school bands. Pete Doherty was some kind of an Elvis to me. I just thought these guys had the best job!
PW: How does your being from France influence the music you create?
Papooz: There is a strong jazz heritage in France, mainly because all the great American jazzmen played in Paris in the 50s. It's also the birth country of gypsy jazz, and that style inspired a lot Ulysse's guitar playing. France doesn't stand out as an exciting "pop music country." There's also the French "spirit," which is a certain way of being, somewhere between the Italian dolce vita and the Greek skepticism.
PW: Is there a band or artist you think you sound similar to, or do you make a determined effort to be something fresh?
Papooz: We are really trying hard to bring something fresh and exciting to our audience. Even if we stole a great deal of stuff from the bands we love.
PW: Your track "Ann Wants To Dance" has, so far, had more than a million views on YouTube. Did you ever expect the song to get the reaction it has?
Papooz: We didn't expect that when we went in Greece with this cheap camera and without any script. It's a real good surprise!!
PW: Your self-titled EP was released earlier this month. What can you tell me about it, and do you have a favorite track on the collection?
Papooz: We chose four essential tracks off our debut album that were released in Europe before the summer under the title Green Juice. They are pop songs, but with a bossa nova feel and a not-so-clean indie rock sound.
"Simply are." Because it's a cover. And bands rarely do covers on their albums nowadays. And it's an Arto Lindsay song, who is an amazing song writer!
PW: In your opinion, which is the greatest song ever written and why?
Armand: I really like "In Germany Before The War" of Randy Newman, mainly because of the chorus: "I’m looking at the river but I’m thinking of the sea," which could be a dumb thing to say, but which says so much metaphysically. Everyone can get it, even if nobody knows what the narrator is talking about. Also, the subject is amazing: it’s about a man who murders a child by the river. And it sounds like a ballad.
PW: What are your upcoming performance plans?
Papooz: Touring Europe, mainly France, and a bit of Asia (we’re playing in Japan in November). Then to record a second LP before the summer. We also hope to play America one day!
PW: How has social media impacted your career, and to what extent would you say it's beneficial to bands and artists today?
Papooz: We started our band on Soundcloud, posting a new demo each Sunday and publishing it via our Facebook page. We met our manager and label that way, so I guess it was a big help for us. It's really beneficial, but it’s hard to make a living off what the streaming industry gives you.
PW: Finally, then, where would you like to see yourselves five years from now?
Papooz: In Paris, with a lil' bit more money!