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Practice Mindfulness With Paponeireau's, "Breathe"

Paponeireau is the moniker that violinist Shawn Fisher chose for his solo project when he moved to the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia. The symphonic ambient-folk sound of Paponeireau invites listeners to feel and let go of everything that weighs heavy on the heart.

Much like Shawn Fisher’s main influence, Andrew Bird, he uses his violin and a looping pedal to improvise a variety of intricately textured songs and meditative soundscapes.

The luxurious soundscape of his most recent ballad, “Breathe,” instills a sense of stillness as the musical elements surround you in a warming blanket of divine essence. Through prevailing keys, delicate sounds of nature, and the empowering string performance, the manner in which these components flood into your speakers has you immersed in the quintessential mindfulness that poignantly hails from Paponeireau.

Once the opulent timbres courtesy of Shawn Fisher and Holly Schweitzer come sweeping through as they cascade with the fortified musical foundation, we hone in on the genuine attributes that are being performed before us. Each vocal layer is impeccably placed in order to etch the reminder to breathe in our minds, and the depth conveyed has us intricately feeling the movements of breath enter and exit our body. James Stephen takes engineering to a newfound dimension as the plentiful spirit of the live and well-balanced mix infiltrates the various angles of our headspace.

“Breathe,” utilizes a brilliant array of timing and spatial cues as we get to soak in the moments without angelic croons. This allows the triumphant impact of their arrival to maintain a significant place in the song and in our mindset as we feast on the eloquent ease poured over us. Paponeireau is redefining the purpose of music and for that, we’ve become instant fans.

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Paponeireau, and congratulations on the release of “Breathe.” With such a brilliant array of sounds offered in this piece, what moment sparked the inspiration for this particular soundscape?

Thanks for the warm welcome and for featuring Breathe on BuzzMusic. I wouldn't call Breathe a soundscape, but it's tricky because it definitely has soundscape elements with the frogs croaking in the background. Breathe started as a melody that I played on the piano in my living room. It was this feeling of anticipating the inevitable day I would need to leave the place I am living at. I am so blessed to be renting a beautiful post and beam home in the Slocan Valley of BC, Canada, but it's on a temporary basis. Being here has brought so much beauty, positive change, and inspiration to my life, and I anticipated that it would soon just be a distant and surreal memory. I started playing this piano melody with a feeling of melancholy, and as time went by it started to feel more important to record it and to record in the same room it was written so I could capture the exact sound of being in this place. We left space at the end of the song to really let that feeling of the room sink in. My best friend James Stephens passed through our area on his way to the tree plant, and he brought his studio equipment with him. It was on a sleepy night when we set up and recorded everything. I opened the windows to hear the frogs a little more clearly in the recording. The next day James sent me a finished mix.

Do you find that you have to tap into a different state of mind for each creation you bring forth, or do you follow a similar process that works for each song/project?

Every project has been a different creative process thus far. I value being genuine with musical energy, so I like to get into the right headspace with each song I create. When I first started recording I was playing in a pop-rock band getting quite lost in the party scene, and so the energy of our music was aligned with that lifestyle. When I record for other artists today there are two mainframes of mind. I am either focused and methodical or loose and intuitively flowing. With my music, I gravitate towards the flow-state, especially when I am creating live-looped soundscapes with my violin. I believe music alters the state of mind naturally, so it's not so much of a choice of how to think, but more a choice to let go and give in to the flow of feelings. I also recognize the importance of dreams with my creative process. Multiple times I have used ideas from dreams to make music. This is why I chose the name Paponeireau which derived from Papineau Lake (a location I often dream of) and Oneironautics (the practice of traveling through the dream realm).

What’s your mission statement as an artist? How do you ensure to carry that out through your brand and music?

My main mission has changed a lot throughout my career. At first, it was "let's get weird" which people from the community of Guelph would chant at each of my band's shows. It was making a point to be inclusive towards everyone. Just be yourself. I'm still living this truth, but I would say that today I gravitate more towards the idea of making music for the sake of catharsis, and helping myself and hopefully others heal the hidden internal traumas we often do not allow to boil up and release. I want to bring people to a place where they can feel safe to visit the things they keep locked up inside because that's the moment when you can ask the question, "does this feeling serve me anymore?"

What has been the best piece of advice that you’ve applied to your craft this far?

"The 'right note' is always just a half step away." Interesting music isn't perfect, and your mistakes add character to the song. It's just a dance between dissonance and harmony, and that's life. If life was always perfect, it would be boring. There wouldn't be an awareness of yang without the perspective of yin. Sometimes the fear of messing up makes your mind stick to what is known, but there's this whole other world to explore once you release that fear of imperfection. As a violinist, I was classically trained and a certain unhealthy mentality towards perfectionism came with that. Then one day my teacher showed me how to bend notes so that a bad note slides into a good note and then suddenly the bad note itself sounds so much more intentional. This one piece of advice is the reason why I feel liberated in going to play a gig or recording session with no prepared material.

What's next for you?

I am involved with co-writing in collaboration in Winlaw, BC called Goats in Trees. We are planning on applying for a grant to receive funding for a full album. As Paponeireau, I am lining myself up for a career playing violin soundscapes for yoga and meditation classes, recording violin sessions for other artists, and recording my own music. My next show will be playing for the online Kootenay Yoga Festival on Saturday, June 12 at 6:15pm (PT). If you'd like more information you can go to their website:

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