Author Archives: paulms

About paulms

My name is Paul Shapera, a musician working under the name Mocha Lab. I make albums, theater shows, videos, dance pieces, commercials and move around a lot.

Best Of Luck To Clockwork Hart’s Performance of Dolls Of New Albion At The Fringe Festival

(Performing at theSpace @ Venue45

63 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DH (Venue 45)
11-16th August





To those about to rock, we salute you.


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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


Clock Hart’s Production of Dolls Of New Albion at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 11th-16th August

clockwork hart dolls of new albion a steampunk opera

In 2 days, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Clock Hart Productions is going to begin a 5 day run of a musical near and dear to my heart, The Dolls Of New Albion, A Steampunk Opera.

They will be performing at theSpace @ Venue45
63 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DH (Venue 45)

Dates: 11-16th August
Run Time: 22:45-00:00 (1h15m)

£9.50 (£7.50)

Tickets can be purchased here. 

Narrator – Steph Masucci
Jasper – Jack Taylor
Annabelle/Amelia – Emma Fleming
Edgar/Byron – Jamie Loyn
Fay/Priscilla – Heather Young
Solider 7285 – Lily Hannant
Dancers – Mattias Carlberg and Fillip Hartelius

Here’s some really yummy looking rehearsal photos.


clockwork hart dolls of new albion a steampunk opera

clockwork hart dolls of new albion a steampunk opera


clockwork hart dolls of new albion a steampunk opera

You can always check out the Clockwork Hart website, and be sure especially  to check out the Production Team, the mad sods who work well into the candlelit night to wind all the dials and the wires and the spires.


I SOOOOOOO wish i could be there to see it. But my fortunes this summer have not allowed it. I pray to see a vid one day, but more important is that they kick ass and make an utterly magic moment and… and….. AND JUST BE AWESOME.

clockwork hart dolls of new albion a steampunk opera

clockwork hart dolls of new albion a steampunk opera

clockwork hart dolls of new albion a steampunk opera

clockwork hart dolls of new albion a steampunk opera


Posted by on August 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


A Quick Thank You

I was going to post on the upcoming performance of Dolls Of New Albion at the Edinburgh festival from Aug 11-16 (theSpace @ Venue45, 63 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DH (Venue 45)) and will do so tomorrow, but i want to take a second.

With the release of the AO i have gotten a lot of mail and comments that have utterly overflowed my heart with gushy fuzzies. A thank you is in order.

All you who have bought the album, thank you.

All you who listen to it and really like it, or i daresay, love it, thank you.

And all of you who have taken a moment to write me a kind word or two about my work, THANK YOU.

I sit here in a small village in a far off foreign country, madly pouring out these projects and throwing them on the internet, wondering if they will be liked, listened to, who listens to it, who is this invisible audience out there, and are they really there.

It is a lonely artistic existence. And then i release an album like the AO and in comes all this response and it’s… oh GAWD it makes me feel good. You’re there! You listen! You like! You’re… wow, you’re actually really moved. Like… honestly actually really into it. That’s so freakin’ awesome. That’s what i hope all along and there you are. On the other side of the bright screen.

Oh i love you screen people with so many lives and stories. With your words of encouragement and praise.

Thank you. You have NO idea how much it means. Thanks.

Back to silly videos now and the new season of The Killing. But you should know how much you make me glad.

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Posted by on August 8, 2014 in Uncategorized


Building The Bonus Act: Stage One, Nothing To Something

Before New Albion

Before New Albion

This post will contain minor spoilers for the upcoming Bonus Act. If you don’t want to know anything, definitely don’t read.

I started this blog at the beginning of the steapunk opera writing process (the day i played the first note) for several reasons. A huge one was to teach myself about steampunk but another was to show my process. In the interests of creative transparency i continue that practice and will in some regards walk you through the making of the bonus act, with some allowances for major spoilers being kept secret.

So i know i have to make a bonus act. I need to come up with another story and a music angle. Let’s take ourselves back a week, to when i had absolutely nothing and no ideas.

Having no ideas is not a big deal if you haven’t actually tried yet.

So one night i’m about to sit down and do my usual nightly routine when the power goes out. (the power would go out daily for the next 5 days, but this was day one). I stay up long after everyone else has gone to bed. There is no electricity, so i have have nothing to do other than sit out on the porch with a few beers and watch the lightning. (MASSIVE lightning). It occurs to me this a good time to see if i can’t get the process started.

How to start from nothing:

Do i have any ideas floating around? Okay, i know the male will probably be a red haired gangster. Okay, that’s something. No era, could be anytime. Maybe start it a generation before the SO? Maybe… i don’t know.

Any music ideas? Anything?

Well, i was sitting on a desire to make something that contrasts tribal drumming/chant music with industrial sounding music. That has my interest. I was going to save that maybe for some project down the road.

Why save it? Don’t horde ideas. The more you use the more come to you. Just use this idea now. You like it. When you need ideas later they will come as they always do. They come because you let them come on out not because you horde. (this includes bad ideas, but you can just toss them and move on.) Let’s use this one and see what happens.

Okay then. If we say we’re going to start with the idea that i’d like to make some tribal vs. industrial music then…. well hell, the first premise writes itself. Tribal… we’re not starting an generation before the SO, we’re starting a generation before New Albion even exists. I’ve already established that the Albino Tribe who lives in the tunnels underneath New Albion are native to the region. There’s my tribe. And that means we will use a time travel plot device so one of them can go to some aspect of New Albion between the 3rd Act of the SO and the end of the DO. It’ll make a great musical bit when we end the first song with its tribal drumming and catchy chanting and go BLAM into some awesome, majestic industrial audio soundscape. That will work great. Okay, since the premise seems to be going on its own, let’s keep following it.

(for those who worry i’m giving too much away: 1. Everything i’ve told you thus far is revealed in the very first song. No biggie. Secondly, this piece is not like the AO. The Atompunk Opera was all about the reveals. The AO is essentially about truth to balance the DO which is essentially about illusion. In the AO everything is either a mystery waiting to be revealed or what you think is one way turning out to be another. It is about finding out the truth of things in every regard, whether painful or awesome. In this Bonus Act, there will be some surprises, definitely, but i don’t need to keep a lid on so much.)

From that premise, conceptual ideas came and came and came until finally i shut them down and said enough. Plot points, details, angles, things i can incorporate from the larger mythology…. ENOUGH. I don’t need all these. Not yet. It is useless to continue. Grand ideas are a dime a dozen. They mean nothing without the heart and soul. I need the characters and the character arcs. Otherwise the opera has no emotional core.

The next day i was taking a walk with my wife (2 months pregnant and in full nausea mode. The only thing that helped are long afternoon walks). She told me a very sad story about a boy in the village. it was so sad… i realized it was perfect. The detail that struck me the most was that it was a perfect detail for my male’s backstory. And if THAT was his backstory, clearly his character arc would start at Point A and end at Point B. Because he would have this character detail that would drive him to go from A to B. It’s good. I have my male gangstery guy.

The female eluded me. I certainly knew her Point A: she’s the member of the Tribe who goes into the future. But what is her arc? Why? What doesshe do and what is the change that occurs to her over the piece that makes it interesting.

I had taken my 5 year old to the village schoolhouse to ride his bike. He was riding it in circles around me when it struck me: The female character has this defining trait. Whoa, this trait is not the kind of trait she would have starting the album. But that’s what makes it so COOL. AND… let’s really work with this. Her character arc is NOT going from Point A (1st song) to Point B (the trait i just thought of) over the course of the album. No, she is at Point B the next time we meet her. I can play with this trait for msot of her songs. Her arc is going from B to C. But B is SOOOOO cool and has SOOOOO many possibilities to work with especially when writing melodies for. AND i’ve never asked Lauren to do this, and Lauren would be GOOD at it. She’d be potentially really good at it.

Okay, so now i have my characters. I know their story arcs more or less, i know the male story arc better than the female, but know the female character better. If the male character is like THIS, then he must a have song like THAT. Just so with the female. Clearly the female will have a song like THIS. Oh, OH, oh…. okay, i get a snippet of the male singing a little lyric line, only… that kind of sentiment is exactly what the female would sing… SOoooooo, we have a connecting motif between them. It’s kind of beautiful and tragic. (Big secret: i kind of sort of love beautiful and tragic. Shh, don’t tell anybody.) Well this sort of suggests what their connection would be. And that snippet used near the end after setting it out a couple times before would make a really powerful little moment. We all know i like to repeat a phrase or melody and then pull it out again near the end in order to try and acheive a very dramatic, emotionally powerful moment.

As days go by from there, the little things start coming to me. For instance, last night i realize something awkward and uncomfortable about myself and then realize it’s an issue the male lead would have. So we can use it. it’s what makes Soul. I am no longer writing about some foreign character who exists in imagination only. No, this aspect that makes me uncomfortable now gives something of actual personal meat i can use to make him breath reality.

I come up with the basic why and what the female is doing, the big reveal of exactly why she’s been in the future doing whatever specific thing she’s been doing while sipping water at an outside table after having picked a bunch of onions from my brother in law’s field. The onions  were going to go to seed if we didn’t pick them then. Since i live in a foreign country people babble on around me and i don’t understand most of it (unless i reaaaaally try) and i sort of space out…. and in this case i came up with the big idea of what the female is doing and how it all ends. I started chuckling out of nowhere and the two women talking paused to glance at me, nodded and resumed conversation.

So… i’m in very good shape. What i’m missing is the middle. I’m missing what is happening in the middle and what specifically brings the two leads together. I’m missing what happens that propels the male to make the deciding step from Character Point A to Point B. I’m missing the details of exactly what both leads are doing when we meet them in the main time and what event propels the plot forward.

The middle plot point should be Simple. I have a good premise, good characters, very good ending. I have lots of song possibilities and especially some possibilities that aren’t about forwarding the plot but great emotional songs to really dig into the audience’s heart.

I decided the first night of the thunderstorm that while i need narration, i will not use a singing Narrator. This is not one of the Operas. We will use a narration device… the male can actually speak as if we are hearing him by playing a tape in a tape recorder we found laying about. These spoken bits can occur whenever i need them and be used to get the plot across as well as appropriate character insights for color.

And there we go. That is how the beginning of the process occurs. Nothing to something.

The next step: i should start writing. Not just writing this down, i don’t need to, i know it thus far. I should actually sit and write it out as a story. Usually that fills in the plot points. For the DO, acts 1 and 2 were written by sitting in a neighbor’s yard while my kid played with theirs, and one afternoon i wrote Act 1, the next afternoon i wrote Act 2. ( i went back the next day specifically because the afternoon before had gone so well, i figured the environment was working.) Since i speak the language so badly, people exchange pleasantries with me and then leave me to be.

So next i shall sit and write it out like a story. When you actually write it out something happens that makes ideas come and fill in the blanks.

Okay kids, that’s it for today. I don’t mean to navel gaze in public, but this is my personal process. I throw it out there just for kicks and giggles.





Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


Character Background: The Mascot 3000


The Arcadia Corporation was not actually successful in its attempts to create Artificial intelligence until long after it was officially defunct and had been by and large gutted.

In its heyday, many of its numerous programs which aimed to produce human level sentience in non organic vessels like the MASCOT, PAL, NOMAD, NOMAN, and GPSI programs were begun long before Project Elysium was even conceived as a possibility. Indeed, it was the discovery of the theory that Elysium could be accessed which pulled funding from many of the AI programs and redistributed it towards the dream of The Great Migration.

While many of the various AI programs had similar end goals of placing adult consciousness into non organic vessels, for a long while the only real progress was made using fetuses. fetus consciousness in the last trimester was developed enough to be definitively present but maleable enough that it could accept transfer into a few choice analogue states using scientifically arcane processes. There was even some success with transfer into actual computer based vessels.

Thus the fetus stage was a wealth of education and progress. Granted, fetus procurement could be tricky and a potential PR nightmare. Arcadia encouraged those within certain upwardly mobile circles of Voodoopunks to procreate (briefly) and donate to the cause. They opened numerous Helping Hands Clinics, where youth in an unexpected and unwanted “spot of bother” could go and discreetly and affordably take care of their trouble, while providing Arcadia with raw materials.

The ultimate trouble with fetuses was when success was finally acheived, the fetus consciousness became utterly distant from anything approaching communicative or even human. A fetus had had no time to make any profound connection with a human state and thus drifted away from ti so quickly it was impossible to work with it as it developed into something enigmatic and alien.

Still, no matter, the most important, initial barrier had been crossed. Now Arcadia was ready to concentrate on the next step: babies and toddlers.

The last time Connor saw his daughter she could just approaching crawling. The girl was not immediately transferred to PHISC (Post Human Information State of Consciousness). She actually spent another 3 years being specifically trained in methods that would increase her potential to not only make the transformation successfully, but to retain as much of human consciousness as possible while accepting the new Being State.

At the time the girl was taken into The Program, Amber was already in a meteoric rise up Arcadia due to her accute scientific mind and notable organization and HR skills. Naturally, her daughter was given the most beneficial of treatments available and Amber’s willingness to lead by example through giving her own child to The Program was not only a huge inspiration to other Voodoopunks in certain circles, but also insured her rise was unimpeded.

By the time the girl’s consciousness was removed, successful placement into an electronic shell was still not workable, although hopes were high. Never the less, by this point, toddler consciousness could be stored for years in a state of near hibernation, where they matured so slowly, they were unaware of the passage of time. Amber’s child was of course kept this way using the most advanced containment methods until success was guaranteed.

However, with the birth of Project Elysium, Arcadia’s priorities shifted.

What then was the aim of the AI initiatives?

The aim was to be able to transfer human consciousness into any variety of technological vessels created to suit any variety of needs. Want to traverse the stars? The human body is nothing but a set of problems. if consciousness could be placed directly into a ship itself, then transferred to a probe, a robot, a micro exploration unit for the sub atomic dimensions, then the possibilities of human exploration would be endless. The entire universe would be our playground in any variety of self created, technological bodies. A cosmonaut’s life would be eternal until they decided to willingly go on to the Next Realm. Until Elysium.

But with the Elysium Theorum, Elysium became possible to reach within a number of years. The world of Elysium was already theoretically eternal and in already in an advanced Being State. If humanity could migrate there, them finally the most profound human dream man had dreamed since the dawn of time could be fulfilled: the coming together of Earth and Heaven. New Creation could begin. Humanity could evolve into a state far better than biomachines, it could become Angelic.

Thus was attention shifted. Although many programs were abandoned and those research teams charged with solving new puzzles related to the Great Migration, the MASCOT and NOMAD programs continued, albeit at a reduced budget.

Then came The Great Migration.

While the vast majority of Voodoopunks and Arcadia staff made the crossover, not everyone left. Some teams remained to assist the Settlers from Home Base and some research teams remained to carry on their work. The MASCOT team chose to remain as they were far more interested and committed to their dream of AI consciousness than to Elysium.

When Connor came with his warrant, the warrant was designed to dismantle Arcadia swiftly, thoroughly and brutally. Due to the events of The Deceit, he now knew the Voodoopunks were immigrating to some realm of Inner Space and as far as he was concerned it was win win. They wanted to be there and he wanted to insure they never returned. From the moment he appeared with the warrant, the dismantling and confiscation of equipment was stunningly fast. Entire floors were gutted in hours, staff led out of the building never to return again. However, the MASCOT team was deep in a sub basement and it took quite some time before anyone reached them. They were able to salvage and smuggle out through underground tunnels a sizable amount of equipment and materials. They were still set back enormously, but unlike almost every other aspect of Arcadia, they were able to survive, regroup and eventually carry on their research.

Ironically, their greatest help in getting set up and running again was Connor.

When Connor discovered that his son had been among the Pilgrims, there was nothing he could do to undo the wheels he had set in motion. Arcadia was gutted. The machines were dismantled. The swiftness and thoroughness he had planned into the operation backfired against him.

However, as committed as he was to Arcadia’s fall, he was equally committed towards reclaiming his son, the single dearest thing in the world to him.

Connor combed through the building and discovered the tunnels, eventually tracked down some of the rogue scientists, helped them get set back up and over a years and years, track down pieces of the dismantled equipment or parts needed to make it from scratch. He creatively diverted city funding here and there, in bits and pieces, practically invisibly to ensure the scientists could carry on their work.

Thus, over 15 years after the fall of Arcadia, triumph was finally achieved, and the first successful permanent transfer of consciousness occurred. Connor’s daughter, sleeping away in data storage for so many years, accepted transplant into a Mascot 3000 tablet, merged holistically with the analogue quantum electronics, and awoke.

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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


Moxy Fruvous: The Drinking Song

For no particular reason, here is Moxy Fruvous’ The Drinking Song

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Posted by on August 3, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Atompunk Opera Q&A

First things first:

We have been having Old Testmant style thunderstorms for 5 days now and my internet, hell my electricity has been mostly non existant. The very post could be written during a brief hour long respite  at which point i won’t see electricity again for another 5-10 hours. So far weather’s clearing up and it looks like the sun is coming out, but i’m just warning you. I will answer not only best i can, but WHEN i can.

Second things second:

I realize it’s only been a few days and it can take awhile to figure out exactly what the hell is going on. You can ask later. I just thought since there are a few more loose ends plotwise on this one than on others ( i think. I mean, the DO can be a bit more confusing with the whole 4th wall things and meta-narrative shenanigans, but the plot otherwise is pretty well explained) i thought i’d give an opportunity to ask questions. Basically, my test listeners had more questions this time than on other times (although each about completely different things. Had they all asked about the same character or event it would have been easy to pinpoint a place to clarify better) so…

Hang on, i’m rambling. I don’t want to ramble. Basically, you have any questions, ask away in the comments and i will answer. It’s the end of the series. I have few secrets left. (Although i might be coy about a subject or two)

If anything was unclear or you wanted to know exactly what was going on offstage so to speak, you could ask away. I realize i COULD just write a bunch of stories that clarify such things, but i don’t have the time currently and while the desire to know and ask is still fresh…. i am at your disposal.


Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Uncategorized


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