Sasha Papernik
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Sasha Papernik

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
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"With an enchanting voice, an engaging wall of sounds, themes of love, loss, and solitude, and influences from her Russian-American heritage; Sasha is blasting through the music cosmos with something that will catch the star gazing eyes of many around the planet very soon. Read more at" - Middle Tennessee Music


"Victory, a dark and dangerous piece of noir-inspired songcraft, lures you in..." - Something Else Reviews


"Papernik now writes with the confidence of an established star, and her muse seemingly knows no boundaries. Papernik’s latest album, Victory, is an eye opener." - Wildy's World


"Sasha Papernik’s 2013 bilingual epic Victory is unparalleled in its aesthetics and musical elegance. A successful fusion of Russian folk, classical and contemporary musical art, and jazz, Victory encapsulates the beauty of folklore and fairy-tales across history as well as drawing from the best of musical traditions; including opera, cabaret and musical theatre."
- Indiemunity


"I have to say right away that I have fallen in love with this album. It’s likely to make my list of best of 2013. Yes, I think it’s that good Papernik’s vocals are awesome, but the music really sells this." - Music Street Journal


"...for a band that appears to be funding their own release and videos, they are certainly doing quite well with the quality of product they are putting out there." - Kevin Kozel


Sasha and the Indulgents’ Love in a Box is shot through with a devastating sense of foreboding, from the crafty creep-rock of its opening title track almost all the way through to its desolate final moments of lonesome acceptance. Yet, and this is the power and magic of this record, they never bog down musically. Instead, this New York-based group finds a series of interesting contexts to surround their dark ruminations. Papernik is a conservatory-trained child prodigy, and Love in a Box starts that way, with an elliptical run across the electric piano. As with many of the songs to come, that spookily beautiful portent doesn’t last long. Sasha and Co. quickly move into a galloping rhythm, with co-producer Justin Poindexter adding some ghoulishly inventive organ work, and the title track becomes this thundering meditation on trying to get over a lingering heart ache. “What do I have to do to erase the memory of you,” Sasha sings, then goes even further: “And of that day?”

“Edges of Your Mind,” a sweeping ballad pushed along by jazz-inspired work on the drums from Ryan Ramirez, travels even further into the empty restless nights of the lovelorn. “Are you looking at the night sky?,” Papernik sings, while strings arranged by Poindexter and these sturdy cello flourishes from Amali Premawardhana, almost like church music, swell behind her. “Do you see the same moon I do?,” she continues, still reaching out and finding nothing. Finally, as Ramirez and Papernik emerge together from the din, a sense of hopefulness returns: “You will see her again; she will show you again.”

There are other times when the clouds seem to part. “Impossible,” stark and spare then almost psychedelically complex thanks to a return on the cello by Premawardhana, makes the case for optimism amidst so many unanswerable questions. The more conventional piano-ballad “Chasing Hours,” with another sensitive turn by Ramirez, finds redemptive strength in a lyrically trenchant guitar solo by Poindexter. More often, however, Sasha and the Indulgents are sorting through deeper, sometimes almost formless worries. A girl pushes past the lowered expectations of those around her on “Carolina,” as Poindexter’s echoing guitar work intertwines with Papernik’s innocently ruminative runs on the Rhodes: “Her mother says, ‘Darling, ambition won’t get you married.’ Her father says, ‘Child, idealism is an empty pocket.’” But she doesn’t let go of her dream, unsaid in the song but unshakeable, despite being beset on all sides by naysayers.

Papernik struggles to decipher the true meaning behind furtively discovered old romantic musings in “I Read the Letter,” as Rohin Khemani adds an insistent turn on the tabla. She is suspended somewhere between curiosity and a still-burning animosity over a relationship’s more recent failings. “For a moment, I see the way you used to look at me; and I like the comfort that brings,” Papernik sings, before coming back into the moment. Old feelings can’t paper over new hurt.

“Would You Like Me,” an inspiring rumination on codependency, whips around with an appropriate emotional violence, moving between a tense stomping rhythm and this almost pastoral reverie. “I am what you want to see,” Papernik sings. Then, afraid of getting lost in reflection, she begins to question her own machinations. Which role is the real one? “It’s hard to pretend to approve of yourself when you’re seeking approval,” she adds. She finally finds the strength to look in the mirror and see the real person staring back.

Later, Papernik grieves for “two hearts that never beat in time” on the closing “Ten Thousand Dreams,” which features a second string arrangement by Poindexter and this haunting turn at the violin by Sarah Zun. “If the daybreak never came, would I be lying here the same?” she sings, in a dejected whisper, “Forever haunted by your name.” The character can’t seem to make any other choice, as Poindexter’s guitar makes wistfully clear. “Maybe I will,” Papernik sings, and it sounds like a complete defeat. It’s another melancholic epiphany, another hard-won truth, in a brave recording filled with them.


Review by Nick DeRiso
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
- Nick DeRiso


January 14, 2008
It seems someone still cares about Schubert lieder. The classically-trained pianist Sasha Papernik, aka Sasha the Band, is blending Tango, Broadway, 30s European Nightclub, and, most surprisingly, Schubert into her new songs for solo voice and piano. With slower beats and simpler chords, her inclinations might have taken her into folk, given her propensity for ballad-like narratives and wistful images. As it is, the flurry of fingers behind her voice locates the energy somewhere in between Broadway and a slinky Casablanca evening club.

Sasha the Band loves lyrics. By her own admission, stories are “something I really miss in today’s pop music,” so tales of boyfriends or exes abound. When she structures a song around a memorable chorus, as in “What to Do,” her style blends pithy and wordy in a strikingly satisfying way. On lesser songs, however, she moves so quickly from chord to chord and image to image that we’re left with a pleasant but unmemorable feeling of having seen a good Broadway vignette (I’m So Lonely for You) or a swanky Tango ballad (So Much Trouble Parting). Sometimes her songs are a scattered solar system of words and flourishes without a sun to pull them together.

This is not to say that Sasha the Band is bad. Not at all. In all her songs, her multitude of genre leapings and skippings seem smooth and effortless, and her liquid, gentle, expressive voice is already realizing strong potential. This is very early work from a wide-ranging, talented musician with serious ambitions, which is an exciting prospect. In her own words, she is “passionate about pushing the limits of popular music.” That’s a slightly difficult phrase to stomach on a Myspace page with 6 songs on it, but given the execution she already has, and with ambitions as high as pop music will permit her, Sasha the Band is someone to watch. Check out her concert on Jan. 25th at the Lincoln Center Institute.

Posted by John S - Place Your Bets and Wait


"This singular album announces the recording debut of a pianist/singer-songwriter Sasha Papernik. Classically trained, Sasha started writing songs as a means of reaching a broader audience, and eventually hit upon a style all her own, where raucous, virtuosic piano riffs meet smooth, lovely melodies. The intelligent, introspective lyrics are the icing on the cake. Initially crafted as solo-piano pieces, the songs developed a driving energy after some fellow conservatory musicians became Sasha’s first touring band. She built her chops the time-honored way: by playing in every tri-state area venue she could log onto her schedule, learning to give hushed atmospherics to an attentive audience and hurl blistering soul-grabbers at those who were on their twelfth beer. The music on this album is the result of all those nights of tight work with a band, cleaned up and made pristine. Listening to the often deceptively simple arrangements (drums, electric and steel guitar, discreet bass), it is immediately obvious that this is the work of a seasoned pro. Ironically, during her recent performances, Sasha augmented the rhythm section and brought in a gifted sax player—her musical vision is developing at breakneck speed, and we’re privileged to hear these striking beginnings with, already, a feeling of nostalgia. In a field saturated with special effects and escalating dramatics, Sasha’s clear-as-a-bell songs bring with them a weird sense of recognition—this is how songs can actually be, this is what they can mean: for reference, just go back to Neil Young of the “After the Goldrush” era, or think of Elton John of “Your Song.” (Incidentally, Sasha does a killer version of “Only Love Can break Your Heart” in performance.) As was the case with Mr. Young, Sasha’s songs may strike you as pop at first, yet you quickly become aware that they’re anything but; the boundaries are pushed way beyond that easy categorization. Sasha’s blend of traditional classical technique with pop and folk influences has produced a completely new, homegrown sound that moves indiscriminately from aching to foot-stomping, often within the same song. Sasha is currently performing with her band around Manhattan, promoting her first album. Catch her if you can: you’ll take with you memories of raw energy that ties in neatly with the sophisticated sound of her first album." - Christopher St. Clair


On her self-released debut, Claremont, Sasha Papernik presents herself—a trained musician trying her hand at piano pop and achieving an accessible record with some excellent moments. The press touts Papernik as a classically trained and studied songstress, and this much is clear. Here she tastefully combines the pop sensibilities you expect from fellow singer-songwriters like Regina Spektor or Tori Amos with the technical chops of the classical greats she studied in Manhattan.

However, that technicality haunts the record’s upbeat numbers like “What to Do” and “On the Road,” cramming piano flourishes, guitars, drums and bass into songs that still have to make room for lyrics. As a result, the songs suffer from overcrowding, where they could excel if they were just given a bit more oxygen.
Instead it’s Claremont’s slow burners that stand out. “Walker Evans” rolls like a journey through the Depression-era documentarian’s photographs—heartbreaking scenes whose voices “rise” and “roar” beneath a surface quieted by time; here vivid and clear once more. The soul-stirring “Okay” alternates between fragile piano tiptoeing and a restless amble, creating a heartbreaking narrative on love and loss.
And suitably, love and loss make up the majority of Claremont’s subject matter, which progresses in an unfortunate fast song–slow song sequence that disturbs the record’s chances for consistency. Though it may have its detractions, there is no denying the real focus of Claremont’seight tracks: strong, hook-based, pop songs that effectively synchronize human emotion with musical expression. And that makes Sasha Papernik’s a worthy debut.


Stephen B. Griggs – MuzikReviews.com Contributor
September 30, 2009 - Stephen B. Griggs


In a break from our usual anti-establishment, avant-garde, excessively-hyphenated, political discourse-driven run-on sentences, we'd like to call your attention to a new independent pop release by the delightfully quirky Sasha Papernik. A classically-trained pianist with chops to spare, Sasha's debut (entitled 'Claremont') demonstrates an angular take on lyrical songwriting and romantic-era harmony without sacrificing the all-important hook. Somehow combining virtuosic pop piano (?!) with a lilting, delicate voice, she's more than worth a listen, and you can check her MySpace here. Her fantastic group includes AtM artist Kyle Saulnier on bass, with his alice. bandmate Rohin Khemani on drums, in addition to the tasty, understated guitar of Justin Poindexter.

Sasha, with her band, will next appear at Googie's Lounge this coming Monday. A guilty pleasure worth checking out. - www.awakenthemusic.com


"Sasha Papernik is an undiscovered diamond from New York..."


- www.ugrooveonline.com


Following a talented artist as she slowly develops is a sort of a privilege. Perhaps at the starting point you start by admiring the effort more than you do the results, perhaps you keep encouraging her for friendship’s sake, which is in itself a small hypocrisy, well-intended as it may be, because deep down you’re not convinced yet that the talent is real—you’re as encouraging as you would be with a child who is hellbent on being a quarterback on the school team even though he is severely myopic and runs like a depressed turtle.
So the progress, you figure, will be slow. If there is any. But there are perks. Many perks.
The first one is the realization that the progress is not slow—in fact, it is almost shockingly fast. This, in turn, settles the question of talent. Progress without talent might take on the form of a brand-new hairstyle and a gold lame uniform where earlier there had been a pink frou-frou. When these (surely indispensable) assets are absent, one is faced with the essentials: ten fingers, a voice, and, above all, the ability to create.
This Friday evening I felt as if you had crossed a large chunk of the road, and suddenly I had the impression of momentary stillness: I took a millisecond to look around, take in the venue, the sound, the cold outside, and I thought, my god, I have witnessed something. We are not in Kansas any more, Sasha, not by a long stretch. And I was there for the ride!
Although I had only seen a fraction of your shows, it’s been quite a few from my perspective, and they have been rich and stunningly varied. As I began to see them as an extension of you, I began to sense just how vast your potential was, how much more there still was to be seen, heard, experienced. I have heard you in a stripped-down musical persona, an unmistakable beginner. I have seen you warm up within the reassuring embrace of companion musicians when they constituted a protective shell before they constituted musical possibilities. I have heard a CD at a moment when you had already outgrown it almost dramatically—perhaps the first indication that much more was yet to come. I have heard you cajoled by a saxophone, and at its fullest, I accepted the band as you. I got used to a certain smoky honky-tonkeism, with cramped spaces and godawful pianos and the momentum of the crowd.
At the third-street school, I realized that his was all a matter of a professional musician responding to the environment, and that she could easily be entirely other. I had forgotten just how brilliantly those ten fingers could conjure sounds out of a fine instrument, I again paid attention to, and admired, the facility with which you drew arpeggios out of the left hand, cleverly turning them into a quasi melody while hammering out rhythm with the right hand, singing all the while. Although I have to subtract a star, from however many signify highest marks, for the microphones being too low, this was a superb presentation.
The perks were among the gifts that were new and were given us: the jazzy intermezzo during a song, the interaction with the bass, and the fearlessly emphasized atonalities – were those fifths or sevenths climbing into the tonic? In a show where everything jelled, it is hard to isolate a perfect moment, but for me, that was it. Provoked perhaps to substitute for a guitarist’s absence, it was a revelation of something I hope you will cultivate: more jazzy “medleys” with the bass, please!
And there was a new song, a small pearly affair tossed off as if it were nothing.
Sasha is now on her umpteenth incarnation. This reviewer wants to be around until his head swims with the multitude of avatars. I will now see returns to the honky-tonk sound of crappy pianos playing to the distant background of some heavy-metal band with an entirely new eye; more amused than annoyed, now that the memory of what can be when the circumstances are good is indelible. - Christopher St. Clair


http://chataboutit.com/friday-at-9pmet-rock-chicks-live-6/

Check out this free podcast and listing of my Artist Spotlight Friday, March 12th, 2010. - www.chataboutit.com


Discography

CD - "Claremont" released June 2009
Available on iTunes. Tracks are streaming on various internet radio stations, Last FM, and WMJC 94.5 FM

CD - "Love in a Box" released November 6th, 2010
Available on Pandora, Radio Crystal Blue, Women's Radio, Indie Castle Radio, Unheard Radio, Rukus Radio, Music Closet

CD - "Victory" released February 1st, 2013
Available on Pandora, iTunes, and Spotify

Music Video: "Love in a Box" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXrwYHE2Mss and Vimeo.

Photos

Bio

Love in a Box (CD and Music Video) is Sasha's sophomore album project and was released on November 6th, 2010 to great press.

Sasha Papernik is a songwriter, singer, and conservatory-trained pianist who can sneak a lightning-speed run of notes into a ballad about life that you will probably recognize as your own. She started writing songs as a means of reaching a broader audience and eventually hit upon a style all her own where raucous, virtuosic piano riffs meet smooth, lovely melodies. The intelligent, introspective lyrics are the icing on the cake.

Initially crafted as solo-piano pieces, the songs developed a driving energy after some fellow conservatory musicians became Sasha’s first touring band in 2008. She built her chops the time-honored way: by playing in every tri-state area venue she could log onto her schedule, learning to give hushed atmospherics to an attentive audience and hurl blistering soul-grabbers at those who were on their twelfth beer.

The music on “Claremont,” her debut album released on June 20th, 2009, is the result of all those nights of tight work with a band, cleaned up and made pristine. In a field saturated with special effects and escalating dramatics, Sasha’s clear-as-a-bell songs bring with them a weird sense of recognition—this is how songs can actually be, this is what they can mean.

Since then the band’s sound has evolved into the unique palette heard on their sophomore album, “Love in a Box,” released on November 6th, 2010. As one reviewer puts it:“Sasha and the Indulgents’ Love in a Box is shot through with a devastating sense of foreboding, from the crafty creep-rock of its opening title track almost all the way through to its desolate final moments of lonesome acceptance. Yet, and this is the power and magic of this record, they never bog down musically.” Sasha collaborated with a prize winning film director, Jeff Sousa, to film the band’s first music video to the album’s title track.

Originally from the Boston area, Sasha was a winner of national and international classical piano competitions since the age of eight. She is first generation Russian-American and considers her Russian background a great influence on her music. She graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in comparative literature and music, completing her Masters in Piano Performance at the Manhattan School of Music. Sasha is currently touring with her band on the East Coast, promoting her sophomore album. Catch her if you can: you’ll take with you memories of raw energy that ties in neatly with the brave new album “Love in a Box.”

Band Members