“It comes with some pressure; especially playing live. There’s no one to hide behind if I make a mistake on stage.”
Electric Paisan, a gang-of-one wrecking crew helmed by Joseph Tudino, has been building his reputation around New England since 2020. This year has seen that presence grow with the release of his Cigarettes and Dandelions EP in May and the follow-up single, “Not to Worry,” in October, with Tudino playing gig after gig. His blues-meets-alternative-punk style packs an enjoyable punch while leaving room for him to play with sounds and styles without sacrificing song-writing quality.
Among other shows, Electric Paisan will play a matinee at Midway Café on Saturday, Nov. 26 from 3pm to 7pm with Mile 57 and Headsmack. Ahead of his Boston show, we spoke with the Providence singer-songwriter about the essence of being a one-person band, musical messages, and the recording process, among other topics.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I build guitar pedals. Several of them have found their way onto my live rig. It’s a skill I learned while I was in electrical engineering school. I’ve also been learning the art of making cocktails in my free time.
What is the origin of the name Electric Paisan?
Electric Paisan has a lot of meaning to me. I’m an Italian-American. When I was getting more involved in the Providence music scene I would go to this weekly open mic at Dusk called Madcap Monday. The guy who ran it, Nate Cozzolino, would always shout an Italian greeting at me from across the bar. So that inspired me to incorporate the Paisan into my name. Electric has a few meanings. I perform solo with an electric guitar. I’m also an electrical engineer and I’ve been into electronics for as long as I can remember.
What’s it like being a one-person band? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Being in a one-person band is a lot of work, especially the way I do it. Electric Paisan is my passion project, so I take it upon myself to do as much as I can myself, from songwriting to recording to production to release and promotion. I’m not much of a visual artist so I work with some talented local artists (James Lastowski, Anna Stevens, Charles Klensch) on things like album art and merch. It also comes with some pressure; especially playing live. There’s no one to hide behind if I make a mistake on stage. I think I’m fortunately well-suited, performing from such a young age that I rarely get nervous anymore. I’ve never been afraid to work hard to bring my creations to life. It comes with the advantage of being in complete creative control and doing things on my own time. There are a few disadvantages; there’s no one to split the work with, so putting things out in a timely manner can be difficult. I do really enjoy playing with others, and that’s something I don’t get with this project.
Please tell us about the production of Cigarettes and Dandelions and your follow-up single, “Not to Worry.”
I created all of Cigarettes and Dandelions in my bedroom. That’s where I recorded all the instruments and mixed and mastered the songs. I talked to some local producers for their thoughts on the best way to approach it, and I watched a lot of YouTubers who did studio work. I settled on a deadened room as much as possible and recorded each instrument acoustically using microphones I specially chose and tested on each sound source being recorded.
Leading up to recording, I used working demos to write all the instrument parts, and I simultaneously tested out different recording techniques and mic combinations for each instrument. Once everything was recorded, I put together a rough mix and then went back and forth between my bedroom and my car (where I listened on my way to work) until everything sounded the way I wanted. It definitely took a lot of time and iterations, especially since this was only my second attempt at getting the fundamental tonal balance on a song right. My first attempt was the Celestial Body EP for Corinne Southern and the Constellations, a band I played guitar in at the time, which was nominated for a Motif Magazine award. Aside from all the work involved, being a one-person team made me have to get creative to maintain objectivity in listening since I didn’t constantly have a set of fresh ears from bandmates throughout the entire process. But my friends were supportive and listened to the near-final mixes and gave me feedback. I learned a tremendous amount from the process, and I have a lot of ideas for the next time on how to make the process more efficient and how to make it sound even better.
I recorded “Not to Worry” at the same time I was recording the songs for Cigarettes and Dandelions. I anticipated having to move to a new residence after that release so I wanted to have something almost ready to go. I mixed the song in my new apartment and I addressed some of the sounds I wanted to make better from Cigarettes and Dandelions. I think the song demonstrates some of my growth as a songwriter. I wanted to use more metaphors and creative visual descriptions than I had used in the past and I focused a lot more on the lyrics. When it came time to arrange it, I knew I wanted to focus on the drums but keep the relatively simple guitar part. I tried, as a lot of drummers try to do, to emulate Keith Moon’s style of drumming on Who’s Next. It pushed me to come up with a much more creative and interesting drum part.
What do you want listeners to feel after listening to your music? What do you hope they take away from your songs?
The music of Electric Paisan focuses strongly on mental health. A lot of my songs explore the interactions between mental health and interpersonal relationships. I hope my music can play a small part in listeners’ journey through understanding their mental health like many other musicians did for me. I try to speak openly and honestly about my experiences in my songs.
Everyone’s experience is different, but I hope that my experience may resonate with another person and make them feel less alone. Although my songs tend to explore negative feelings, in most of them I do try to keep a positive message. I think some of them simply serve to clarify feelings, which is always the first step in changing them. In others, I think I do suggest solutions or at least the notion that there is a solution to be found and there’s always a reason to keep going. The most important part of being a musician is making people feel something. Like all art, music is meant to express emotion and communicate something that just can’t be communicated in words, or at least is communicated much quicker through song.
What are your thoughts on the New England music scene?
I’m based in Providence, and I’ve been involved with this scene since college when I was a member of the URI Musicians Guild. I’ve been going to shows, booking bands, discovering new music, and performing for almost 10 years now. I’ve always found Providence to be an accepting scene, where if anyone wants to play in front of people there’s always a way to make it happen. I’m just starting to branch more out of Providence, and I’ve already found some venues, such as the Midway Café, that embody that same spirit. A few years ago I played a long weekend of fill-in gigs all over New England on guitar for Worcester-based Have Fun, and I saw a lot of people looking to help each other out with bookings and gear and logistics and whatnot. I think the New England music scene overall is very vibrant, and if you can put together an exciting show then a lot of people will come see it and a night in a small club can be one of the most memorable nights of your life.
How are you getting your name out to listeners? How has the response been?
I’ve been trying to get my name out as organically as possible. I played as many shows as possible when Electric Paisan was launched about a year and a half ago. I’ve been staying as active as possible on my social media accounts. More recently I’ve been trying to promote more shows on my own and put together bills that I know people will enjoy when they arrive. The response to Cigarettes and Dandelions was better than I expected. Many local people ended up listening to it, and the room was packed during my EP release show. I’m very happy that people are engaged with what I’m doing and that I didn’t just put this out into the world for no one to listen to it.
Any final comments?
Support your local scene. So many people say it, but we’re at a time in the world where people are getting more and more isolated and there are a lot of problems. I think the best way to start overcoming all of that is to connect with each other over something positive like music. Plus we’ve all seen the memes at this point about Blink-182 reunion concert tickets being so expensive, shows at the Midway are like $5-$10, go hang out with your friends and discover what the people near you are creating.