Brooklyn-based artist Doe Paoro describes her music as “Ghost Soul,” characterized by a dolorous, ethereal sound that evokes the resurrection of “a choir of ghosts who haven’t completely detached from the human experience.” Echoes of attachment and detachment permeate her debut album, Slow to Love, out January 31, 2012.
The album’s first single, “Can’t Leave You,” was co-produced by cellist Yuri Hart and Decibel Studios’ Lasse Mårtén, who began collaborating with Paoro after he saw a YouTube video of her performing it on the piano. Paoro’s haunting vocals are strongly influenced by her in-depth study of Lhamo—a powerful, unusual, and vocally acrobatic Tibetan-style opera—that she encountered while traveling alone through the Himalayas this past year. At times she channels Coco Rosie, Lia Ices, and even Julianna Barwick.
“Can’t Leave You” seems to come up from another era and you’ve described your music as “Ghost Soul”. What does that mean for you?
“Can’t Leave You” is about attachment and this is a timeless human experience: We spend our entire lives spinning in these cycles of aversion and attachment. When I think of a “ghost,” I think of a spirit that is lingering because it wasn’t able to let go of the experience of being alive. With these songs, I sought to give a voice to my own memories that I hadn’t been able to make peace with.
How long have been interested in making music? “Can’t Leave You” is a very mature work for a first single.
I’ve had a few different musical incarnations before Doe Paoro, so although it’s the first single, this is really testament to a long journey.
How did your trip to the Himalayas affect your music? Your vocal styling seems to be influenced by chants.
In the Himalayas, I was very fortunate to come into contact with a master of Tibetan Opera – Samteu. The first time I heard this singing, I just layed down on the ground and listened and let it wash over me. I had no idea the human voice was capable of this sound– this high pitched echoey wail that manages to pierce with grace. It’s a style that I feel could only have originated from the mountains. It has the same height and clarity you find at that elevation. This man agreed to teach me, so I stayed there and studied under him. For the first time, I felt my body as an instrument like any woodwind. When I sing in the style of lhamo, the music just vibrates through me. I unlocked something in myself when I learned it.
Your new album Slow Love, was written while you were isolated in your cabin in Upstate New York. Reminds me of the story behind Bon Ivor’s first album. What was your process while writing the songs?
“Slow to Love.” I would spend most of the day walking in the woods and staring at the lake and doing yoga and thinking and then I’d come back around nightfall and stay up late on the guitar and a keyboard I brought with me. I wanted to go there to force myself to write and wrestle with my feelings; I wanted to be somewhere where there were no distractions. I had a 4 track recorder on an Ipad and I layed down ideas on that. One of the songs on the album, “Follow You Till,” is a recording I made by myself in the cabin.
What can fans expect on Slow Love?
This is an album about the pain of attachment, of watching someone fall out of love with you. These songs are very honest and I believe in their power to touch people because of that truthfullness.