Avenir Magazine
Avenir Magazine | Art The Future


Oh hey there, Paper Crows


Think Florence and the machine without the machine just a really cool base. Emma Panas and Duncan McDougall are the dynamic duo behind the electronic pop band, Paper Crows

Fresh of the stage in a vintage lace dress and black velvet jacket, Emma sits in the corner of the old Queens head, sipping on a very lady like Vodka and soda. Her excitement is vividly visible on her face as Duncan who is drinking a glass of red wine joins her.

“We didn’t have time for a sound check,” she explains. Despite the 3ominute wait, the crowd seemed patience yet anxious to hear the Paper Crows. There is something about this band definitely worth waiting for.

Paper crows began three years ago. They met at The Institute of contemporary music performance, where Duncan was studying music production and Emma perfected her skills as a singer and songwriter. “I got her to guest on one of my tracks, and the more we collaborated the sound of Paper crows grew organically,” says Duncan.

It would be cool to say the duo are an item, but unfortunately or rather fortunately for their fans, the band are just friends, ‘best friends’ insists Emma.  In the midst of writing and performing the band still find the time to relax and travel together. “Last year we went to Ibiza and it was non stop partying,” says Duncan.

Displacement and the idea of ying and yang are themes both in their style, music and even the meaning of the name Paper Crows. “It was taken from one of our early songs. We realized we loved the meaning, crows are dark and sinister while paper is light and fragile” explains lead vocalist Emma. “The name just fit so well, it was a light bulb moment” says Duncan.  With her heavy kohl eyes and messy bleached red hair, it is possible to believe lead vocalist Emma is the 'dark one' or the crow of the group, while Scottish born Duncan in his sharp tailored suit can easily pass for the paper. “On stage people think we are quite sinister, but off stage we’re quite fun aren’t we?” says Emma looking over to Duncan for confirmation.

Their conflicting style represents their diverse fans” I’m more conservative and Emma is slightly more chaotic, but we are just staying true to ourselves and our fans love that,” says Duncan.

The Paper Crows latest EP Build is a mixture of fast and uplifting songs. It’s an EP definitely fit for a chilled Sunday morning. “Our sound is quite dark electronic pop music” There is no denying Emma is the writer, as she shouts ‘its dark but uplifting! She continues, “The main thing we want to do is get people to engage and feel some sort of connection.”

The identity Crisis

It has become a standard procedure for the public and journalists to categorize new bands, comparing and contrasting them to any musician they deem appropriate. As a duo, this is something Paper Crows face daily, the identity crisis. “The first thing they want to do is pigeonhole us. We have been compared to Kate Bush” any powerful, striking lead singer is compared to Kate Bush initially, which is of course a massive compliment” adds Duncan.

The band has also been compared to Hurts which Emma seems to love, “We actually love it, because we are massive fans of hurts”

One similarity they share with hurts is the uplifting chorus, and deep lyrical content.

“I would put us somewhere between Florence and the machine and hurts” clarifies Emma when asked where she feels the band deserves to be placed.

The Struggle

What’s a band without a compelling story of pains, record labels, groupies, drugs and rehab? Ok, Paper Crows haven’t quite reached the point of drugs, alcohol and rehab, although their opinion on the issue is pretty nonchalant. ‘We don’t have Justin Beiber, pre-menstrual fans so to each their own’ says Emma

One struggle they can relate to is being signed to a top record label one day, and unsigned the next day.

“We’ve had a pretty intense journey”, Emma begins, “We got signed by Warner”

 The band had direction difficulties, as their management hoped they would go in a certain direction and they wanted to go another way. “A lot of artist get signed and get sucked into the moment and they often feel they should agree to whatever their label says. We really dug our heels in and said this isn’t right,” explains Emma

In an industry that almost requires a band to be signed to a notable label before any recognition is given, it seems bazaar that a band will decide against its label. However, Paper Crows aren’t your average easy-going band. Their gothic like look isn’t a front. Their voice and opinions are just as strong. “ We wanted it to work, we were signed to a major label of course we wanted it to work. Every band wants that. It just wasn’t working for us”

The band are currently without a label, and are now signed to Quest Management who are also responsible for Bjork, clearly a perfect match. “They work with the artists we love and respect”

Despite the obvious struggles of being an unsigned band, Paper Crows are in no hurry to be signed to another major label, unless of course the right label knocks on the door.

“With our previous management we were being pushed to right pop songs for radio. We never set out to right songs for other people” says Emma

The Future

The band our gearing up for a UK tour towards the end of the year. The new release White Noise is a mix of deep, intriguing lyrics brought together by Emma’s still and captivating voice. The upbeat chorus with its strong base is definitely a body shaker. White noise is followed by a new single out in May, anomaly.