Tony Cummings gleaned the story-so-far of a trio from South Wales, PAPER HORIZON
Bands come in all kinds of styles and line-ups, but there can be few which have chosen the direction of South Wales-based unit Paper Horizon. With an intriguing sound featuring violin, guitar and drums, coupled to a bold spiritual message, they make a refreshing change from the hundreds of units making identikit pop rock sounds. Their recording debut, EP 'The Imaginary Lines', has received an enthusiastic response and now the group are busy at work on a new project. I quizzed the band - Lawrence Burton (vocals, guitar, synths), Andrew Gordon (drums, electronics) and Gaelle Favre (violin, vocals) - about their growing ministry.
I asked Lawrence how he would describe the band's sound. He responded, "Well, definitely Paper Horizon is definitely not your usual line up! The only way we can describe it is kinda Noah And The Whale meets All Sons & Daughters. At the beginning we were really inspired by United Pursuit's 'Simple Gospel' album. We didn't have a particular sonic goal. We just sound like the three of us playing and different songs need different instruments or styles to tell the story." Gaelle added, "It's really a big blend of everything. I love classical music, but also heavier bands. Right now I'm really into Public Service Broadcasting."
Paper Horizon were formed in 2015. All three of them were serving on the worship team at Bethel Community Church in Newport, South Wales. Lawrence had recorded a solo EP 'Acoustic Journal' in 2012, while Gaelle, who was born in France (not far from the Swiss Alps), had been playing violin since she was six years old. After studying at the Oyonnax Conservatoire, she settled in Wales after touring as part of an ELO tribute band. In 2015 Gaelle recorded 'Celtic Dreams', an instrumental EP celebrating her favourite Welsh hymns. Lawrence and Andrew had been friends for years and when the three of them came together there was an immediate creative and spiritual connection. Remembered Andrew, "From our first rehearsal in May 2016, we wrote our first song 'Constellation'. We knew we had something unique. It was a really exciting, catchy song."
Paper Horizon each admit to a love of story-telling and this comes through in all their music. Said Andrew, "It's powerful when we share our individual journeys, struggles and responses to challenging situations in an honest way. We hope our songs inspire people to enjoy a lifelong, loving and authentic relationship with God. The band name kind of sums up our message: a horizon is defined as the 'limit of a person's knowledge or experience'. Meanwhile, paper represents a blank canvas that can be a space upon which anything can be drawn or created. When we reach our limits, then God opens whole new opportunities and adventures."
Recording the 'Imaginary Lines' EP came about in an unexpected way. Lawrence explained, "It doesn't have to be expensive to start a band. Our EP was recorded by a friend of ours who's working on his Music Production degree. We had access to industry-standard software, an amazing recording space, mixing and mastering. All it cost us was parking fees! We played some shows and released a single online to help pay for the CD manufacturing. We believed in these songs and it's been wonderful how God has taken our dreams and made them a reality."
He continued, "Recording in a studio environment gave us the chance to layer up different sounds and add textures that you just can't accomplish in a live show with only three people on stage. The freedom of tracking different guitars, synths and bass allowed us to finally hear the songs the way we imagined them." Andrew added, "There was an evening when Gaelle played a second violin part over the chorus of 'Nothing'. I was jumping with excitement. It suddenly gave the song a whole new gravity."
Since February, the band have been working on what will be a full-length album. Said Gaelle, "I'm really excited for people to hear it. There's lots of surprises, pianos, different time signatures. . . it's amazing. We learned so much last year and are now recording the album with a lot more confidence." It's been a challenging time for Gaelle. She explained, "Last September, I moved back to France to work in a new school up in the mountains. It's been challenging living in such a remote area without my friends and Church. I've had to lean on God in the solitude and learn to trust in his direction and plan. There's a new song on the album called 'Brand New Day' all about it."
The whole journey so far of Paper Horizon has had a deep effect on each of the band members' lives and when that full-length album is released it will be intriguing to see how their highly original sound connects with church-goers and non-church-goers alike.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.