[SPACE JAMS] When you spend time with David “Papi” Fimbres, two things quickly become apparent: First, the 31-year-old is extremely talented—he plays everything from drums to tuba as part of his alleged 14 different bands, which span every genre from psychedelic soul to calypso pop. But secondly—something more immediately noticeable—Fimbres has an overwhelmingly positive attitude that makes you want to share both a beer and a hug with him. Indeed, everyone seems to like Papi—his friends even gave him that fatherly nickname for being “such a sweetheart.”
Of course, Fimbres is also a bit of a weirdo. “I want people to realize that we’re not just in this planet…we can take ourselves to another place,” he says of his music. And on his newest project, a solo outing under the Paper/Upper/Cuts moniker called ILLA KILLA YELLOW SPACE, his spaced-out mix of organic and electronic sounds—see the complex percussion on “Pura” and the wailing synths on “Slowercase Letters”—indeed takes the listener to another dimension, one where obscure funky jazz of the past lives happily alongside the blistering indie rock of the present. This is exactly what Fimbres wants—he excitedly describes his songs as “something you can relate to but still make you say, ‘Oh, what the fuck?’”
If Fimbres seems content in multiple musical dimensions, maybe it’s because he has lived in so many different worlds. Growing up between Los Angeles and Juárez, Mexico—one of the most violent cities in the world—he used music as a way of getting away from the conflicts of the world outside. His father, a Fresno-born weed-dealing hippie, and his mother, a polite Mexican woman who didn’t speak English, had him playing drums and piano by age 5 and introduced him to everything from German polka to the Talking Heads at an early age. “It was pretty fucking cool because I got to understand both languages so well, but also got to grasp their cultures,” he says. “They were two totally different cats.”
Fimbres’ love for playing eventually led him to Portland, where he works at Trade Up Music on Alberta, swapping and selling instruments and accessories in order to support a sometimes-spendy career in music (he spent hundreds of dollars to dye the vinyl version of ILLA KILLA yellow to match its title).
With such devotion to the art, Fimbres’ projects are laced with a true genuineness. He’s a passionate, sweaty live performer who punctuates his playing with hoots and hollers, and his teddy-bear face glows with excitement when talking about the new record. Being the sweetheart that he is, Papi wants the listener to be a part of all this excitement.
“What I love the most
is when I incorporate everyone and we’re all in this together,” he
says. “We have this form of energy together; we’re all just feeding off
it. We’re all doing this at the same time—you are Paper/Upper/Cuts.”
SEE IT: Paper/Upper/Cuts releases ILLA KILLA YELLOW SPACE on Thursday, July 28, at Mississippi Studios with 1939 Ensemble, Yeah Great Fine and DJ Rumtrigger. 9 pm. Free. 21+.