Big Sir

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INDIE MAG’S ICON Feature: Lisa Papineau

Lisa Papineau solo artist and the singer in both Big Sir and Me & LP Is the Indie Icon feature in the July / August issue of Indie Mag. You can download the full magazine for FREE or buy in Print HERE

Sessions 65: Video Interview with Big Sir in Manchester UK

Lisa Papineau and Juan Alderete take time out to talk with Sessions 65 about the joy and love of making music and about the Big Sir European Tour.

Check out all 3 of the Videos of Big Sir performing Live In Studio for Sessions 65.
The Ladder
Born With A Tear
Old Blood

NO TREBLE: Bassist Redefined an Interview with Juan Alderete

Juan Alderete
is a man who stays busy. After getting his break with thrash metal outfit Racer X, Alderete now contributes the low-end to progressive rock giants The Mars Volta, whose new album Noctourniquet hit stores this week. The record marks the band’s sixth effort anchored by Aldererte, who joined their ranks in 2003.
The Mars Volta ‘Noctourniquet’

Additionally, Big Sir released its third album, Before Gardens After Gardens, in early February. The album was created after Alderete and collaborator Lisa Papineau were both diagnosed with serious illnesses: Alderete with polychythemia vera, and Papineau with Multiple Sclerosis. Three weeks before the album was released, Papineau was also diagnosed with cancer.

“I wake up and I thank God every day – and God meaning everybody’s God who looks down on me,” Alderete said. “I can’t believe how fortunate I am to wake up every day and feel good enough to go play music and do what I do.”

A veritable gear guru, Alderete is also launching a new website called, in which he will give advice on building pedal boards, how different pedals sound, and how to get the best sounds possible out of your effects.

We phoned Alderete at his house the morning after Big Sir played a special in-store concert at Hollywood’s legendary Amoeba Records to get the latest from this exciting bass player.

Congratulations on the new Big Sir album, Before Gardens After Gardens. It’s a really incredible record.

JA: Thanks! It’s something that means so much to me. A lot of people know my band through Mars Volta, but when Lisa [Papineau] and I put this record out, we never thought that Mars Volta fans would get it. We thought we would put it out on Omar [Rodriguez-Lopez]’s label, and it would just sit there, but our other record is jumping in sales because people are finding the new one and liking it, so they check out the old one as well.

I’m not going to say we’re a band that’s in the black yet, but I anticipate we will be if we continue to promote it and do videos for it. Hopefully if we go on tour, we can continue to get that support to spread our word, and basically our word is that no matter what you’re going through, you’ve gotta keep that dream alive. If you’re at a day job and you really want to create something really beautiful in a graphic artist program or something, or you’re a photographer and you want to take the most beautiful picture you’ve ever seen… as long as you have that inspiration, it drives you.

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Los Angeles Times Feature: Big Sir talks about creating a new album in the face of illness

Big Sir talks about creating new album in the face of illness

During 12 years of sonic partnership, vocalist Lisa Papineau and bassist Juan Alderete’s mesh of meditative lyrics, electro-inflected boom-bap and prog-jazz has combined fury and philosophy in a way that doesn’t have to shout to be heard.

Formed in 1999, their band, Big Sir, brought together the operatic tone of Alderete’s fretless bass with Papineau’s penchant for soulful restraint. On Feb. 7 the band released “Before Gardens, After Gardens,” their first album in six years, via Rodriguez Lopez / Sargent House.

Despite their positive outlook on an album over half a decade in the making, the inspiration it took to make it has taken a serious, very literal toll on their bodies.

Shortly after completing their previous album, “Und Die Scheiße Ändert Sich Immer” in 2006, Papinaeu and Alderete were both diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. Alderete was found to have polycythemia vera, a rare bone marrow disease that makes the body produce too many red blood cells, while Papineau discovered she had multiple sclerosis. And just three weeks before the release of the album, heavily steeped in reflections on life and death, Papineau was also diagnosed with cancer.

Despite their health obstacles, both have been incessantly busy with projects ranging from Alderete’s work as the bassist for The Mars Volta to Papineau’s solo career and collaborations with artists like Air and M83 and ME & LP with Matt Embree of RX Bandits. But even with so many other projects to occupy their time, both admit that their shared sense of humor, affinity for bass and West Coast gangsta rap creates a bond that keeps them together.

Ahead of Big Sir’s gig at Harvelle’s in Long Beach on Monday, Papineau and Alderete spoke to Pop & Hiss about crafting their new album and facing mortality head-on.

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LA WEEKLY Feature: Big Sir

Big Sir Had Serious Health Scares. So They Made an Album About Life and Death

Six years after the members of Big Sir were forced to confront their mortality head-on, singer-composer Lisa Papineau and bassist Juan Alderete are back with their third album of jazz-prog-electronic jams, Before Gardens, After Gardens.

Right around the time they were finishing their last album Und Die Scheiße Ändert Sich Immer, they both fell ill and were diagnosed with serious diseases. Alderete discovered he had polycythemia vera, a rare bone marrow disease where the body produces too many blood cells, while Papineau was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “The bottom fell out,” says Papineau. “In the midst of this juncture, Juan dreamed a song, woke up, recorded it and emailed it to me in Paris. He said, ‘I know it may be corny to say this, but from now on everything we do really has to make a difference … even if only to us … there’s no point any more to do less.’”

Papineau and Alderete were introduced to each other in 1996 through her band Pet, which she co-founded with composer Tyler Bates (Watchmen, 300). Three years later, their mutual love of ’80s tunes, West Coast hip-hop, and bass led to the formation of Big Sir.

The two were sitting around with their friend, producer Mickey Petralia, trying to think of a proper name. “I think we said something like it should be a name that could be equally used by a 13-year-old’s punk rock grrrl group or a hardcore gay activist group, something tough and fierce-sounding to contradict the ‘94.7 The Wave’ band names the music might invoke,” she says.

Big Sir released its self-titled debut album in 2000 and an album of remixes the following year. Around this time, Alderete created another project, Vato Negro, and later joined The Mars Volta. Meanwhile, Papineau continued working on her solo career and released her debut album, Night Moves, in 2006. She’s since worked with Air, M83, Matt Embree of (Rx Bandits), Jun Miyake, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and many others.

Their latest album is an exploration and reflection of life and death. Its title comes from a poem by Indian mystic poet Kabir about seeking peace and knowledge within. “For me, though,” said Papineau, “what the title evokes is earthly gardens and their heavenly or other-dimensional counterparts. One garden to tend to now and not take for granted, and the other garden not to fear, to see as a place of comfort and deliverance.” - By Ivan Fernandez

PREFIX Track Premiere: “The Kindest Hour” by Big Sir

"The Kindest Hour" will appear right at the halfway mark on Big Sir’s upcoming 11-track album, Before Gardens After Gardens, which makes me think it could be an important transitional song. Singer/composer Lisa Papineau (Air, M83) and bassist/composer Juan Alderete (The Mars Volta, Racer X) create this pretty, eerie (also pretty eerie) tune with help from Heather Lockie and her moody viola playing, which is contrasted by Alderete’s smooth, clean bass. Also featuring Cedric Bixler Zavala (The Mars Volta) on drums and Matthew Embree (RX Bandits) on guest vocals.

Although subdued, Papineau’s melodic singing is of major note here, as it adds dimension to her partner’s muscle and, overall, fills out the otherwise sparse music. The voice and the instrument meet up here and there, eventually creating a watershed of sound that boils over as if you turned the stove off a second too late. The result is something like a cathartic overflow of warmth—thanks, in part, to the blanketing organ—ultimately faced with an icy wash of male-female vocals. “Hour,” which you can stream below, is a compelling audio embodiment of feelings that could be as strongly expressed visually as they are here. Big Sir’s Before Gardens After Gardens will be available Feb. 7 on Rodriguez Lopez Productions/Sargent House.

Sound Colour Vibration Interview: Lisa & Juan about Big Sir

An interview is one of the most authentic and honest windows into the hearts and minds of the artists and musicians we’ve come to admire. And, in this particular case… an added dose of humility. Logistics and self-deprecating humor aside, there is no better approach towards familiarizing yourself with the music you know and love, than by speaking with the musicians who have created the compositions that their fans have come to hold dear to their hearts. Throughout the years Lisa Papineau and Juan Alderete of Big Sir have created a fan base dedicated to the evolution of their multifaceted sound.

With the two having such a diverse creative output that extends far outside of their album releases, Lisa and Juan always seem to give the time needed to Big Sir for stages of growth in the bands legacy to continue and 2012 marks the next cycle. The ethereally haunting vocal and synth work of Lisa Papineau along with the sea of effects bassist of The Mars Volta Juan Alderete utilizes combine for a compositional mastery in which the sum is greater than the parts. With this Los Angeles dynamic duo’s third full length album, Before Gardens After Gardens, set to release on February 7th of this year via Rodriguez Lopez Productions / Sargent House, Big Sir has created an authentic and diverse harmonious experience bound to have you yearning for more. When we received the album from Sargent House and dove in together, it felt like love at first sight.

Sound Colour Vibration was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with Big Sir and get a firsthand look at the creative dynamic behind this band and their insight regarding a shared passion for music enriched with Los Angeles tradition, trust and mutual respect for one another, the influence of fearless whip-cracking manager and Sargent House matriarch, Cathy Pellow, creative contributions and unique signature musicality of fellow artists, and the strong camaraderie setting the foundation for their beautifully cultivated sound. Ladies and Gentlemen… It’s our pleasure to present to you Sound Colour Vibration’s exclusive interview with LA band, Big Sir.

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RCRD LBL Premiere: New track DL “Our Pleasant Home”

Big Sir, the longtime collaboration between singer/composer Lisa Papineau (Air, M83 collaborator) and The Mars Volta’s bassist Juan Alderete, will release a new effort on February 7 via Rodriguez Lopez Productions /Sargent House. The album, Before Gardens After Gardens, is a collection ethereal prog-rock numbers, as evident on this premiere of “Our Pleasant Home.” The track features The Mars Volta singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala on drums, and is buoyant and eclectic – a marriage of noises that somehow creates something beautifully cohesive. - Emily Zemler

Stream or DL : Big Sir - Our Pleasant Home

COS: Big Sir New Album Song Premiere “Ready On The Line”

Big Sir, the Los Angeles-based project of vocalist Lisa Papineau (ME & LP, M83, Air) and The Mars Volta bassist Juan Alderete, will release their third album, Before Gardens After Gardens, in February. The two composers’ articulate, electronic-tinged blend of R&B, jazz, and hip-hop falls somewhere between Papineau’s acoustic solo work and Alderete’s forays into prog-rock as part of The Mars Volta.

Before Gardens After Gardens’ first single “Ready on the Line” spikes Papineau’s exquisitely harmonized Bjorkian voice with whistles, chimes, and mechanical claps. The subtle background heartbeats, reminiscent of Timbaland’s early work with Aaliyah, anchor the buoyant track, which otherwise threatens to float away on Papineau’s upper range, especially when she screams, “Get so high!” Stream it or download it below.

Big Sir – “Ready on the Line”

Before Gardens After Gardens is out February 7th on Rodriguez Lopez Productions / Sargent House. The album also features contributions by The Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala, RX Bandits’ Matthew Embree,  bassist Jonathan Hischke, and Beastie Boys producer “Money” Mark Ramos-Nishita.

Behind The Hype : Live Review / Big Sir

Big Sir at the Bootleg Theater

Last night was a very different kind of concert experience for me. In the quiet streets of late night Silverlake, we found ourselves at the Bootleg Theater. The reason? The first tour of the mighty Big Sir.

Started by Lisa Papineau and Juan Alderete (bassist for The Mars Volta) a few years ago, they had yet to ever nationally tour until this week. Joining them for the live show were Jonathan Hischke (bassist of Le Butcherettes) Matt Embree (of RX Bandits) and yes, even Cedric Bixler-Zavala (of The Mars Volta).

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Big Sir Announce More Shows!

Big Sir will be playing a few shows on the West Coast to debut new songs from their upcoming album along with some classics. Kicking it all off on September 30th at the Bootleg in Los Angeles will be Juan Alderete, Lisa Papineau and Cedric Bixler Zavala in the line up for that  show. Make sure to come support and hear the incredible new songs. We can’t wait! GET ADVANCE TIX for LA. Below are full list of dates so far with a few more possibly to be added.  

09/30 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Bootleg 
10/01 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Bikini Bar
10/03 - San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall
10/04 - Santa Cruz, CA @ Moe’s Alley
10/06 - Seattle, WA @ The High Dive
10/07 - Olympia, WA @ Eastside Club Tavern
10/08 - Portland, OR @ Purple Church
10/09 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
10/10 - Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s


Sargent House / RLP Presents May We Introduce You To Big Sir Free Album DL All Weekend

Big Sir is Lisa Papineau and Juan Alderete. After a five year wait Big Sir have just finished their 3rd album and it will be coming out on RLP / SH in January 2012 with a lot of great special guest players including Cedric Bixler Xavala on drums. We have already been talking a lot about Lisa and Juan’s other projects; Sargent House put out Lisa Papineau’s solo album Red Trees in 2010 and is releasing the new EP she just did with our own Matthew Embree under the moniker ME&LP entitled Chez Raymond on August 9, 2011. Juan plays bass in The Mars Volta, as well as in the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group and Vato Negro. So we figured it was time to start talking about their new 
Big Sir album and to introduce to you this music if you are not familiar already. So we will be giving away for FREE Download their last album entitled Und Die Scheiße Ändert Sich Immer all weekend, just enter your email address - we won’t spam you and you can unsubscribe anytime if you don’t want any further news from Big Sir.  Enjoy and share it with friends! - Sargent House / Rodriguez Lopez Productions.

(Source: sargenthouse)

Lisa Papineau Talks with Sound Colour Vibration

Lisa Papineau is one of our favorite singers and musicians at Sound Colour Vibration and we are very excited to bring this interview to our site. She was born in New England and is a current resident of Paris, France. Lisa has released two full length solo records, two records with her project Big Sir that includes The Mars Volta bassist Juan Alderete de la Peña, soundtrack scores and so much more. Now with a new Big Sir album completed and awaiting release along with a new project with RX Bandits guitarist and singer Matt Embree, she has created a legacy of music that is already showing its timeless nature. We contacted her to get some info on these various new projects and these are the results, enjoy! ~ by  Erik Otis

You are releasing an EP this July through Sargent House with singer and guitarist of RX-Bandits, Matt Embree. What brought you guys together for a release and where was the EP recorded at?

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Lisa Papineau & Jun Miyake Co-Write Track for Wim Wenders Film

Lisa Papineau co wrote a song with Jun Miyake called “The Here And After” which will be in the Wim Wenders film called Pina about the late, great German Choreographer, Pina Bausch. The movie will be out in February through Warner Brothers. This is not the first collaboration Lisa has had with Miyake below is a clip of them performing together at a Pina Bausch Tribute concert in Paris last November. 

Big Sir Live From Bass Player Magazine Show

Check out all Seven live videos of Big Sir from the Bass Player Magazine Show featuring guests Chris Tsagakis (drums) & Matt Embree (keys & backing vox) from RX Bandits joining Lisa Papineau & Juan Alderete in Big Sir for the evening.