Doomtree's Paper Tiger on the dynamics of the powerful hip-hop collective and why he loves Colorado

Doomtree's Paper Tiger on the dynamics of the powerful hip-hop collective and why he loves Colorado

MusicMarch 03, 2015

Visions of a hip-hop performance generally evoke a certain type of atmosphere. For one, there’s usually a lone emcee on a microphone backed by his/her DJ on a few decks situated behind them. There’s little commotion on stage — aside from what the emcee brings themselves — with the audience fixated on a singular message hidden in the lyrics, more so than any chaos that generally comes with a full rock band. With Doomtree, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact at any given time during its set there are seven members on stage, each with their own ingredient, their own style, contributing to the powerful vibe. It includes all noteworthy rappers P.O.S., Dessa, Cecil Otter, Sims, Mike Mictlan and the electrifying producers Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger to complete the set — a veritable group if ever there was one in the underground arena. 

The collective makes its way to Ft. Collins and Denver this week for the All Hands Tour in support of the album of the same name. Before it does, we sat with Paper Tiger to talk about the writing process, how the super-group came to be, and why they like Denver so much in the first place.

When you work on music, there’s so many people in the group, do you all sit down as a whole, or does it go piece by piece — with a lot of emails and Facetime sessions?

It’s a mixture of both, really, especially for me because I don’t live in Minnesota full-time anymore. It’s harder for me, I think, since everyone else lives there. I do more things by myself. There were a few trips where the bulk of the record was written over the course of a long weekend, when we went to a cabin in the woods somewhere far enough away, where there’s no cell phone service or anything near by that would be a distraction. We just would go out there and it’s all we’d do for a few days. Everyone writes and then we continue the process from there. We add as the process goes on.

Is that something you yourself have to do to get into the creative process? Get away from it all?

Yeah, everything can be a distraction. It’s not all bad though. It’s nice to be able to change the way you work, I tend to — the way I work is kind of different. I work sporadically throughout the day. Depending on what my schedule looks like.

How did Doomtree all come together? Were you all friends first or meet in the industry later on?

A good portion of us went to high school together at some point in our lives. There was at least a crossover. Some of the people I didn’t meet or know well until after high school, until we started doing this. It was a really quick thing, where everyone that was involved kind of knew we were trying to do the same thing and it just went from there.

Is Doomtree a collective, or a group, or a band? What do you think of it as?

Yeah, it’s sort of like an artist collective and artist run record label. We just do everything in house, just the seven of us. We obviously hire out certain people for certain tasks. As the years go on we’ve been able to hire better help for business, which leaves us to work on music more.

Minnesota is always an area that breeds great hip-hop. What is it about that state that makes it that way?

For me I think it’s not just hip-hop, there’s a ridiculous amount of people making great music from Minneapolis. It’s a scene that’s very inclusive for everybody involved with music. It’s a common thing to grow up and go to shows and not just be hip-hop. It would be hip-hop and punk and this and that. Everyone interested in music there gets along.  And winter, we have winter basically 7 or 8 months out of the year, and sometimes it’s ridiculously brutal and there’s no reason to go outside. So it’s the one thing we did to keep sane, when there’s no sunlight and you can’t go outside because you’ll die. It forces you to stay inside and do things with your friends.

Colorado always packs shows for you all. What is it about Colorado you enjoy so much?

I like Colorado for a few different reasons. I grew up snowboarding, so I love the mountains. That area is so beautiful. Being from Minnesota, which is flat … just being around the mountains, I love that. Minnesota music does really well out there for some reason.

It sounds like we have similar scenes, in that it’s an inclusive type of atmosphere …

Absolutely. It seems like there’s a healthy amount of unique culture things that’s going on there. I don’t know if it completely relies on stuff from winter sports, but there’s a lot of young people there and schools that allow enough young people there to know about cool things going on. We’re excited for Colorado, definitely.

Show Deets:

Thursday, Mar 5
Aggie Theatre, Ft. Collins, CO

Friday, Mar 6
Gothic Theatre, Englewood, CO