Papa Dada's guitarless rocking formula

Published on August 22 2008

Every now and then you'll stumble upon a hidden gem on Jamendo. That's exactly what happened when we discovered Papa Dada, three Belgians kicking up a storm with only a piano, a bass and drums.

Papa Dada

Their 6-track EP “prePOPsterous” is the kind that impresses with just one listen: the songs, the recording, the melodies, everything is so masterfully crafted you'd think these three musicians from Brussels have an entire professional career under their belt. But Papa Dada only exists since 2005, and John, Julien and Hubert are just three mostly self-taught thirtysomething musicians who have been playing in bands since they were teenagers. “One of the great strengths of Papa Dada is that we're not trying to impress people with our technicality, yet we have enough mastery to reproduce what's in our heads”, says Hubert (drums and backing vocals).

Surprisingly, the band doesn't have much of an audience yet, they say. They have only played a few dozen gigs in Belgium, “but the name is starting to get around, and we're beginning to see people sing and clap at concerts without being our friends, which is nice.” “prePOPsterous”, their only release, was recorded in 2007: they sell it at concerts and published it on Jamendo, appreciative of the fact that here they “get reviews from musicians instead of journalists, explains Hubert. We don't have a problem with giving out our music for free, that's the best way it can get around! We're not looking to become millionaire rock stars, we just want to make music and get it heard.”

Inevitably, similarities are striking between Papa Dada, with its piano/distorted bass/drums formula, and the band that popularized it, Ben Folds Five, particularly on a track like the brilliant “Art Gallery”. But comparisons are cut short: “It's a band we like, sure, but we're not trying to imitate them, clarifies Hubert. It's only a coincidence that our line-up is the same as theirs.”

So what's next for Papa Dada? A few gigs in september, but mostly work on new songs in  order to record a new EP by the end of 2008. “We've been playing together for four years, so we're starting to explore new sounds and technologies... We might even bring out some guitars!”