15 Years of Failure:
The Paper Hat Records Story So Far
Paper Hat Records was founded by musical multiple personality disorder sufferer Nick Wilson in 2004 as an outlet for his numerous solo projects, collaborations and bands. Wilson proceeded to create a ton of obscure bedroom pop hardly anybody ever heard because none of it was ever officially released. After 15 years with no release, we may be the worst record label in the world, or an exemplar of restraint. After years of failure brought on by any number of bad excuses and a massive accumulation of partially or mostly completed material, 2019 is the year material will finally begin officially trickling out.
Currently based in Sendai, Japan, Wilson tends to work in isolation and plays all the instruments for all but a few of the Paper Hat “bands.”
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Wilson has been writing and recording his own music under various nom de plumes since 2000 when his parents bought him a Tascam cassette four-track for Christmas. As a sophomore and junior in high school Wilson wrote and recorded five primitive albums under the catch-all title The Lemon Brigade, which encompassed genres ranging from alt-country to lo-fi to new
Paper Hat is Born...Sort Of: The Warren Wilson Years (2004-2007)
In his sophomore year in college, Wilson played bass and drums (simultaneously!) in the band Sports with Clare Hubbard (keyboards, programming) and Oren Bruton (main vox), and began collaborating with Garrett Johnson who had been doing his own music and performance art under the name Green Uvula. They bonded over a love for Elephant 6. They came up with the idea of recording a compilation with a ton of different “bands,” each with different sounds all made by themselves on their own record label dubbed Paper Hat Records. Entitled “Paper Hat is Born,” only the music was recorded for the vast majority of the songs, although some of the tracks later found new life, and both the collaboration Carrot Eaters and Wilson’s new solo catch-all project Exploding Schoolgirls became primary projects for the label in the coming years.
Wilson’s junior year at Warren Wilson College, 2005-06, was a very productive year. Wilson recorded a few pretty tracks as the Mongolia and recorded the first self-titled Exploding Schoolgirls album, a melange of pot-and-pan polyrhythms, experimental pop and psychedelic rock.
Wilson and Johnson also got serious about their collaboration Carrot Eaters and recorded much of their debut album, provisionally titled “Wormhole Choruses,” that year, with occasional live performances. Combining lo-fi pop and psychedelia. Johnson sings and writes the lyrics and Wilson writes and performs the music (with occasional help from friends.)
Also in 2005, a new band, Warm Erasers, was created with Wilson (guitar, main vox), Johnson (synth), and fellow Warren Wilson students Matt Piedl (guitar, backing vox), Jade Snow (bass), Brian Hedgepeth (drums) and Shaina Kapeluck (violin). Brian Jones later replaced Johnson on keyboards. Wilson recorded some polyrhythmic acoustic demos that didn’t sound like the live band but have a charm of their own.
Musical activity went on hiatus in late 2006 as Wilson spent a semester abroad at Kansai Gaidai in Hirakata, Japan. When he returned, Carrot Eaters and Warm Erasers resumed activity. Warm Erasers partially recorded an album that was never completed before Wilson graduated and moved back to Dallas.
In 2008, Wilson also formed a live version of Mongolia with David Shackelford (guitar), Bradford Jackson (drums) and Hayley Young (keyboards) which played shows around Dallas before splitting at the beginning of 2009. Since then, Wilson has not collaborated with any other musicians.
After the breakup of Mongolia, Wilson primarily set to work on his newest solo project, Coaxing. Inspired by 80s alternative and college rock, he has been working on writing and recording the album “Monsoon Season” intermittently for the past ten years. There are about thirty songs written and at least partially recorded, including numerous demos and an early version of “Fool’s Gold.” Unfortunately, the recording process was hewn with frustrations -- Wilson became increasingly perfectionistic about the production, spending years bogged down in the minutiae and unsatisfied with early versions of the album. The reel-to-reel setup he bought quit working, and his computer hard drive crashed, losing months of work. Perfectionism about lyrics and every aspect of every song turned into months of writer’s block, inactivity and focus on other projects.
wave to 90s-style emo. His senior year of high school (2002-03), he created an indie and slowcore project called Scalping Party, under which he recorded an album, Cacophony and Cadence. His freshman year at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC (2003), Wilson recorded a final lo-fi Lemon Brigade e.p., The Future of the Future of Jazz. That was the final album to be recorded solely on cassette four-track. He also moonlighted on bass for The Wiles.
Next, Wilson started the dark, experimental post-punk War of Nerves (originally titled Mongolia), inspired by bands like This Heat and Joy Division, and recorded an album for a college class titled “Disequilibrium.” A followup “Heaven is Electric” had all the backing tracks recorded but the vocals never got tracked. Both albums were recorded on cassette four-track but incorporated computer looping and editing for the first time.
The Dallas Years (2007-2017)
Post-graduation, Wilson started a day job as a programmer and set to work on most ambitious project yet, a 50-song Exploding Schoolgirls album of complete songs that could all fit on one CD. Entitled, “Feast of Excited Insects” Wilson initially took a different influence for the sound of each song, leading to an overwhelmingly diverse work ranging from Beatlesque and Syd Barrett inspired psychedelic rock to punky Wire-like bursts to Beefheartian weirdness and much more. Although the album is mostly complete, perfectionism and new directions put release plans on hold. One track, a 60s style bubblegum pop track “Queen of the Popular Crowd,” did see release on a French compilation of unreleased music “Never Dreamed Night Freeze Sandwich.”
In December 2007, Johnson later came to Dallas for a week and Carrot Eaters recorded four more songs for their debut album.
One of those side projects, Casual Agents, began in November 2016 and over the next three months, ten songs’ backing tracks were recorded for a debut album, “Laissez Faire,” inspired by new wave, funk, Afrofunk, glam rock and post-punk. While Wilson had intended to complete the album before he moved to Japan in Fall 2017, a dead hard drive at the worst possible time led to a focus on re-tracking the lost parts to the Coaxing album instead.
Out of the Wilderness? The Japan Years and a New Approach (2017- )
After relocating to Japan, Wilson continued work on both the Coaxing and Casual Agents albums, as well as other side projects. However, he realized it was time for a completely new business model after years of struggling to complete and release his work.
In 2019, a new song will be released on Youtube and on this website under a new project we will call “Paper Hat Presents: Single of the Week.” With such deadlines, there are no excuses for procrastination, perfectionism or failure of completion, and there is certainly no shortage of material piling up to work with over the years. For the first week, the song will be free for download, and after that will be available for purchase from our MP3 store. Please follow and get notifications from our Youtube page, Paper Hat Records.com so you will know when a new song is released, or sign up for our mailing list.
Carrot Eaters: Wilson and Garrett Johnson, 2007
Warm Erasers live in 2005
Mongolia, live in 2008