By Gui Oliveira
Richmond District rapper Kyle Shin (a.k.a. Son of Paper) released his new album, “Always Autumn,” in December. The work touches on different themes, such as the pain of loss and the transience of moments and stories, while simultaneously fusing a smooth and melodic vocal style born in Son of Paper music.
“This is my first studio project where I had help and creative control to really create something bigger than myself,” Shin said.
Shin grew up in the Outer Richmond. His mother is from San Francisco and his father is from New York. Shin attended University High School in Pacific Heights. He picked up a part-time job teaching chess to kids around San Francisco.
“I’m also very much a community activist who cares deeply about making the space of Chinatown to be safe, and to empower young people to do big things in the future,” he said.
Sebastian Chang created the cover art for the album, among other jobs. The cover art brings a sense of nostalgia and inspiration. It unifies the album as a whole in the way images act as a counterpart to the lyrical side of the album.
“I like the idea of having a family portrait, sort of like a family memory, that seems like it’s calling back to somewhere really far away. The cover as a whole is inspired by vintage LPs,” Chang said.
Shin chose the artist name Son of Paper as a way to pay respect to the journey to the United States by the Chinese side of his family. That journey spans five generations and serves as a reminder of how proud he is to be Asian American.
His parents were not musicians, but they played music around the house or in the car. His mom listened to a lot of Earth, Wind and Fire, and R&B. His dad played Queen and the Ramones.
The first song on the “Always Autumn” album is dedicated to an artist named Avon. He was a part of Sunset Youth Services. The organization’s mission is to help young people overcome hardship and trauma to chart a stable path to adulthood.
Avon died at age 17.
“That was very hard to deal with and for our entire center,” Shin said. “The making of ‘Autumn’ was very beautiful and important for the community because we were able to come together on the track and talk to him, in a sense, through the song and through the lyrics and what he meant to us and how we’re gonna carry forward.”
Shin said he was inspired by Korean R&B, and Lo-fi. The subject matter of “Always Autumn” delves into dealing with loss, the grieving process, and going forward understanding that people’s memories and stories must be remembered.
A couple of things that have helped Shin persevere as a young artist is being able to be self-critical and take feedback. He understands what it takes to create music for an audience while being self-aware so as not to lose himself in the process.
“I think one of my greatest strengths as an artist is that I have enough confidence and craziness, I guess, to dive into music, but I’m also not cocky so I don’t miss out on opportunities to grow and to improve my craft,” Shin said.
“Always Autumn” can be found on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube. Follow Shin @sonofpaper on Instagram.