The 5280 Fall Arts and Entertainment Guide

A closer look at some of the most innovative artistic minds in the Front Range.

November 2009

Lofty Ambitions

Esmé Patterson on Paper Bird's rise.

With two recent EP releases, a second full-length album on the way, and a busy live show schedule, Paper Bird—Top Local Band in 5280's 2009 Top of the Town issue—is becoming one of the most ubiquitous and influential noisemakers along the Front Range. Fronted by vocalists Sarah Anderson and sisters Genny and Esmé Patterson, the seven-piece band uses a wide range of influences to create its harmonious and folky sound. Earlier this year, Esmé Patterson chatted with us about the band's past, recording its latest album, and its future plans.

What musical influences led to the band's sound?
Our dad always sang, and our grandfather was an opera singer. We were raised listening to Motown. Between the seven of us in the band, we listen to everything, from reggae and AC/DC to Hanson—really—to classical jazz. We never planned to sound "like this." It's hard to explain, but there's no premeditation whatsoever. Not to get really New Agey, but we're communicating on some level we can't explain.

What's it like to start up a band in Denver?
Everybody's just helping each other by inviting you to play shows or sing on their record. There's this community that's so involved, and everybody believes in each other. The Flobots did that for us. Talk about a weird musical pairing! But every time we play with them we make a bunch of new fans. It is a smaller city, and the scene is so localized, and there aren't that many venues.

When can we expect to see your second full-length album?
Very soon. We've got all the songs recorded, and now we're embellishing. We'd love to get it out, but we have such a tendency to rush things. I'm really excited by this one; we're trying to give the songs the time they deserve.