Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Paul Bessenbacher Of Opus Orange

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Photo credit – Peach Beckley. Courtesy of Opus Orange Facebook page.

Opus Orange – the recording project of Los Angeles-based musician Paul Bessenbacher – has released a new video for “The Lucky Ones,” which was directed by Xuan and taken from the album ‘Miles From Nowhere.’

Originally released in February 2020, just shy of the COVID-19 pandemic’s stronghold of the United States a month later, the song explores isolation, intimacy and silence upon a chaotic world.

Bessenbacher’s composed music has appeared in films by Joss Whedon and on TV shows like “Younger” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Through Opus Orange, he has garnered airplay on Alt 98.7 FM and SIRIUS XM Alt Nation and more than a million Spotify streams on three songs.

The Music Bugle had the chance to chat with him about the new video and more.

Music Bugle – How did you choose the name Opus Orange and what does it signify?

Paul Bessenbacher – “Opus” refers to Frederic Chopin’s “Fantasie Impromptu, Opus 66.” “Orange” is in reference to Charles Mingus’ “Orange Was the Color of Her Dress.” Traditionally, “opus” refers to a work or group of works by a composer. In the context of Opus Orange, I think of each of our releases this way.


Music Bugle – What made you want to become a musician to begin with?

Paul Bessenbacher – When I was seven years old, my dad bought my mom a piano for Valentine’s Day because he thought it was romantic, so they put my brother and I to piano lessons. I’ve been a musician ever since…


Music Bugle – How would you describe the music video for “The Lucky Ones”?

Paul Bessenbacher – We were honored to collaborate with visual artist Xuan for our video for “The Lucky Ones.” Her vibrant experimental animation and abstract scenography is a perfect companion to the music, which explores the need for intimacy, isolation and silence in a chaotic world. Made during the pandemic lockdown, the video is – in her words – “a genuine depiction of my inner world during quarantine, constantly oscillating between hopelessness and hopefulness from page-to-page.”


Music Bugle – What were some challenges you faced while putting together your album ‘Miles From Nowhere’?

Paul Bessenbacher – For ‘Miles from Nowhere,’ we recorded the band live – before vocals – in two days, coming up with arrangements and parts together while locked in the studio. After that, the challenge was to make these instrumental tracks into actual songs with lyrics and melodies. After the songs took shape, it was off to mix and master. As independent artists, there’s still a lot of work to be done after the music is ready – artwork, distribution, release planning, promoting, social media engagement, videos, etc.. This stuff is a real challenge for us, as we’d much rather focus on making music.


Music Bugle – Given what it is about, has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the meaning of “The Lucky Ones” for you?

Paul Bessenbacher – While I don’t think the meaning changed, the perspective and resonance of “The Lucky Ones” shifted significantly because of the pandemic. Being alone with someone in isolation immediately became a tangible reality. Lyrics like “the world is caving in now, collapsing upon itself” and “shut everything down, silence all around” were definitely prescient, in retrospect.


Music Bugle – Who are some of your musical influences and what draws you to them?

Paul Bessenbacher – Some artists I love: The Cure, Elliott Smith, Beach House, Frederic Chopin, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Bob Dylan, Big Thief, Radiohead, The National, The Walkmen, LCD Soundsystem, Jane’s Addiction, Interpol. I’m drawn to music that lets me turn off my composer/producer-brain and allows me to listen without the need for dissection.


Music Bugle – What do you still feel is left for you to accomplish, as far as music?

Paul Bessenbacher – There are endless possibilities with creating music. I love following the creative energy wherever she leads me, so there is really so much music left to create!


Music Bugle – What was the hardest song to write or compose?

Paul Bessenbacher – “Take Another Step” was a challenge because as I was writing, I was convincing myself of the truth that it’s impossible to really know another person. It’s a difficult truth that is both hard to digest internally and hard to hear from another.


Music Bugle – What’s something people should know about Opus Orange that they might not see on the surface?

Paul Bessenbacher – Opus Orange is less of a band and more of a collective of incredible musicians that get together to create music in various forms. It’s an honor to be connected to such talented friends in and around Los Angeles. Sometimes, Opus Orange is just me – like on our solo piano album ‘Equilibrium.’ Sometimes, it’s just two of us, and sometimes it’s eight-to-10 of us all on the stage.


Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your particular genre?

Paul Bessenbacher – I’m not sure what our particular genre is, but I do really love that Opus Orange makes all kinds of music, from solo piano to film soundtrack to indie pop/rock. I really do treasure this freedom to move around from genre to genre – even though it is likely shooting our streaming algorithms in the foot.

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