New York City-based dream-pop singer and producer Papi Shiitake recently unveiled his new single/music video, “Mexican Moonlight,” a track lifted from his forthcoming album, Wabi-Sabi, slated for release on November 18 via Trash Casual.
Talking about “Mexican Moonlight,” Papi says, “Traveling is one of the best things you can do as an artist. I recorded ‘Mexican Moonlight’ on the beaches of the Yucatan peninsula in 2020. Writing on the beach is one of my favorite things to do. The rhythm of the ocean is very inspiring to me. There happened to be a full moon the night I was writing ‘Mexican Moonlight.’ I honestly felt like I was writing the song with the moon herself. It was absolutely magical.”
A lifelong fanatic of Asian art and culture, Papi collaborated with artist, Sedryung Hong, on the animated music video.
Papi explains, “I love collaborating with artists. It’s one of the greatest joys in my life. I came across Sedryung Hong’s, based out of China, work when I was looking for someone to create the visuals for ‘Wabi-Sabi’. They were making such incredible, intricate scenes with this amazing kawaii vibe that I loved. We developed these four characters together and started to dream of the world of ‘Wabi-Sabi’. I originally wanted the vinyl cover to animate through AR technology, but it was kind of a hassle so we spun that into the video for ‘Mexican Moonlight’. I got to make my very own Pixar short so I’m pretty stoked.”
Papi’s music has been featured on popular TV shows like 9-1-1 and Seal Team and has racked up thousands of views and streams across YouTube and Spotify.
Laced with dreamy, kaleidoscopic ‘60s flavors, “Mexican Moonlight” rolls out on creamy, floating textures riding a contagious rhythm topped by Papi’s evocative, musing vocals.
The Young Folks spoke with Papi Shiitake to discover more about “Mexican Moonlight’s” inspiration, his imaginative, innovative videos, and his fascination with anime.
What three things can’t you live without?
Music, Weed, and Arizona Iced Tea. It’s honestly the holy trinity for me. It’s kinda how Popeye eats spinach and gets stronger. That’s what it does for me.
What inspired your new single/music video, “Mexican Moonlight?”
I was on a trip to the beaches of Mexico in 2020 and it was a full moon. She spoke to me and whispered the melody of the song to me. How could I refuse? The video is really an extension of the album cover and the world of Wabi-Sabi that I have created with artist Sedryung Hong.
I like the anime aesthetic of this video (and some of the others). What motivated you to go that route?
Oh man, I LOVE anime. Something about it really resonates with me. I remember being super young and watching Toonami on Cartoon Network and I was hooked. Part of being Papi Shiitake is about cherishing what resonates with you and Asian art does that for me.
Many of your videos have an imaginative flair and eschew the mundane look of most videos. What made you choose to be so creative?
I really tried hard to be ‘normal’ for a long time but it’s too hard to try and fit in. Part of my ethos is being true to who you are. That genuine spirit. The real you. Anytime I am ‘trying’ to be something I ‘should’ I know I am on the wrong path. Creativity and truth are my compasses.
How did you get started in music?
Ha-ha. I started playing in a band before I even knew how to play. I endured a lot of hate and racism as an Asian child growing up in a small town. Playing music in a band was the first time people started to accept and understand me for who I am. Once that happened, I never looked back.
Where are you from? Did your hometown impact your sound?
I am from a really small town in Virginia. There aren’t any music venues anywhere so the only way that we could play shows was in these battles of the bands different schools would host. It really made me super competitive about art and music. People say art isn’t a competition but I’m not so sure. Lol.
Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?
I’m always looking towards the horizon and by the nature of just looking, you kind of naturally drift there. I knew that I wanted to be the album to be bigger than ‘Quarantine Dream.’ But in a way, what you want and what the art wants aren’t always the same thing. Songs are like children; they have their own desires apart from those of the parent.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?
To me, life is art and art is life. Inspiration can come in the form of a scene, a smell, or even something as simple as your morning breakfast. I never stop being an artist and as an artist, I never stop being inspired by life.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I’m really into Still Woozy, Kali Uchis, and Toro y Moi right now. They are all so talented and seem to be so free. Great melodies and amazing vibes. Want to be friends with all of them.
How do you define success?
Freedom and respect. Being able to make art that stirs your soul and having people cherish it is the most magical feeling in the world. Making a song that people start their morning with. Something like that you know. I want to make you feel something you’ve never felt before.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months?
‘Wabi-Sabi’ is coming out in November!! There’re more videos, amazing songs, and a few surprises. Gonna be playing in NYC for the next few months and then hopefully it’s off to tour!