Ep. 11: A Conversation with Paul Lopez (Conjurer of Apparitions and Explorer of Ghostly Realms)

Paul Lopez’s path through music bridges a disparate expanse. A drummer at heart, one of his first endeavors began as the snare smasher of Leviathan—a speed/thrash metal band from California founded around 1989 that quickly changed their name to Scalpal. They produced a single self-titled demo and a slough of covers from metal legends such as Slayer and Celtic Frost, but the group soon splintered as the young members embarked on new paths in their respective lives. Paul didn’t move away from the area where Scalpal was established and once the band disintegrated, he stepped into the realm of shoegaze. With a close friend, Paul forged a duo titled Spell 336, a wonderfully airy and dreamy shoegaze project with Paul playing guitar, writing lyrics, and singing. The duo crafted one self-titled release and recorded the songs contained on it over 1991 and 1992. But it never saw the light of day until around 2008 and just recently did Paul make the project available on Bandcamp.

Between the time of recording Spell 336’s self-titled to the early twenty-tens, Paul produced little to no music. He worked as a police officer for many years during this gap in his output and after experiencing a myriad of harrowing engagements, he retired from the force when his father did in 2007. Four years later, Paul founded The Shoegaze Collective, a radio show dedicated to showcasing fresh and upcoming groups in the re-surging genre. And then in 2013, Paul delved back into the fold of music with the debut of his dark ambient project, Sana Obruent (which roughly translates to “drowning in sound”). Every song he crafts under this guise is produced with a guitar, some minimal effects, and they are recorded in a single take. A couple years since founding Sana Obruent, Paul began a more traditional shoegaze project by the name of Angel Falls with St. Paul-based Dan Ballek. In this project, Paul found himself back behind the kit, playing the instrument he sincerely loves.

There’s a depth to Paul’s work, especially as Sana Obruent, that continues to evade me. I wrote a review some time ago about his masterful opus August and it’s simply one of the most emotionally overwhelming dark ambient releases to ever grace my ears. Paul seldom gives interviews, but shortly after my review’s publication, he wanted to discuss in much more detail August and his cousin’s life, to whom this record is dedicated. On the path toward that tragic story, Paul details his early works under Scalpal and Spell 336 and later illuminates the deep well of passion driving his project Sana Obruent. Thank you so much for listening.

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Thank you so much for listening to this conversation with Paul. You can visit and explore each of his projects in the hyperlinks sprinkled throughout the paragraphs above. If you’re into shoegaze, you can tune into The Shoegaze Collective’s radio show, which runs every Tuesday night at 10 PM Eastern / 7 PM Pacific and every Wednesday at 10 AM Eastern / 7 AM Pacific on decayfm.com. And thank you so much to Kyle over at Ash & Dust studio for substantially improving the audio quality of this conversation!

 

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