Los Angeles native Lucas Nathan is the host body for the interdimensional being and experimental pop musician known as Jerry Paper. First surfacing during the early 2010s with a series of limited cassettes and LPs, Paper wrote woozy, lo-fi tunes in his bedroom using cheap keyboards, often singing existentialist lyrics relating to anxiety and hopelessness over smooth, Muzak-like backing tracks. On-stage, he would don a flower garland or silk robe, and give deadpan monologues related to his songs. His subsequent recordings became more ambitious, but he still remained infatuated with blatantly synthetic keyboard tones imitating real instruments. In 2016, he released the lush, elaborate Toon Time Raw!, on which he was accompanied by BadBadNotGood (credited as Easy Feelings Unlimited). Paper signed to Stones Throw in 2018, and the smooth, sophisticated full-length Like a Baby appeared on the label that year.
Lucas Nathan learned several instruments as a child, and was in a few bands as a student. As a teenager, he was disinterested in electronic music, but after playing around with a friend's synthesizer, he decided to create electronic music in order to develop an appreciation for the genre. In 2009, he began a project called Zonotope™, which was intended as propaganda for an alternative spiritual community known as the Temple of Pure Information and Mainframe Devotion. Through various cassette, CD-R, and digital releases on labels like the Curatorial Club and Hobo Cult (as well as a split tape with Panabrite), Nathan constructed bubbly ambient soundscapes, gradually introducing his sedated croon into the mix. Nathan also released noisier, more experimental music as Diane Kensington Devotional Band, based on the concept of a Wellness Group for a fictional religion traveling into the space between the 1 and the 0 via a method known as Trance Channels.
The name Jerry Paper appeared in the credits for releases by both of these projects, either as the composer or the being that the music was channeled through (Paper was also thanked as the builder of the Mainframe). According to the story, Paper quit the spiritual community in order to seek a different, less orthodox form of spirituality. Jerry Paper's first cassette, Vol. 1, was released by Digitalis Limited in 2012, and contained slightly less abstract songs than Nathan's work as Zonotope™. The mini-album International Man of Misery, issued by Orange Milk, followed in 2013, and was described by its creator as "a cartoonish version of depression." Another Digitalis cassette, Fuzzy Logic, appeared almost simultaneously, and was themed around how technology and politics complicate modern life.
Paper's first LP, Feels Emotion, was issued by Patient Sounds Intl. in early 2014, concurrently with a short mockumentary about the artist. The album included more sophisticated production and higher fidelity than his earlier releases, as well as songs that moved away from typical song structures. Following a split cassette with Andy Boay, released by Hausu Mountain, Paper's second LP, Big Pop for Chameleon World, appeared on Orange Milk. The album was composed as a soundtrack to Nathan's surrealist adventure game Dr. Javier Genneheigen's Chameleon World, and the music focused on synthetic replications of acoustic instruments in order to explore the concept of simulacra. The same bank of sounds was used to compose Carousel, which was billed to Jerry Paper & His Digital Orchestra. The album was released in 2015 by Bayonet Records, then home to Frankie Cosmos, and was filled with self-consciously ironic sounds such as synthetic saxophone or harpsichord.
Instead of working with digital instrumentation, Paper recorded his next album, Toon Time Raw!, with a backing band dubbed Easy Feelings Unlimited (actually BadBadNotGood in disguise) in a Toronto studio. As such, the album was much richer and funkier than previous Paper albums, and his voice sounded much more expressive. The album's lyrics were about cartoon animals dealing with human problems. In 2017, Paper produced and sang on the song "Gotta Know" by American rapper Kari Faux, who became obsessed with Paper's music after discovering it through an online streaming service. The following year, Paper signed to well-respected Los Angeles-based label Stones Throw. His first release for the label was the single "Your Cocoon," which he co-produced with BBNG's Matty Tavares. Full-length Like a Baby appeared in October of 2018. ~ Paul Simpson