Tag Archives: Paul Shapera

Coming Dec. 6th: Miss Helen’s Weird West Cabaret by Paul Shapera

Miss Helen's Weird West Cabaret

Featuring Lauren Osborn as Miss Helen, Psyche Chimere as Han-Mi, Rhys Owen as Henry The Alchemist, and Studly McMuffinpants as The Sheriff. Cover and extras art by Sarah DeBuck.

The album is Act 1 of The Ballad Of Lost Hollow.

Length: 1 hour and 2 minutes. Price likely to be 7 dollars, 5 pounds, or 6 euros if purchased from Bandcamp. As usual, it will go on sale at iTunes several days later.

Listen to an early preview track:

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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Character Sketches: Han-Mi 1, by Sarah de Buck

Character Sketches: Han-Mi 1, by Sarah de Buck

Artist Sarah de Buck, who i mentioned will be doing a heap of art for the upcoming Gothic Western Steampunk Cabaret project, has made some preliminary sketches for the most important character, Han-Mi. It’s an odd job because there need to be some elements of cliche to the Cabaret side of the character even though the performer does not share these cliches (and in fact takes issue on occasion).

She has done wonderful work and i am immensely excited to be working with her on this project.






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Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Mocha Lab: Stories in Music

show and tell records

My first big record obsession was when i was a toddler. I had a series of “Show And Tell” records. You put them on a special little record player and they tell you stories which i listened to in rapt wonder. By the time i was a boy i was catapulting around the room to The Story Of Star Wars, or a Superman Stories record. In middle school i found a book in the library that had old Shadow radio show scripts and after school i’d sit down in front of a tape recorder and do all the voices. I eventually would set up a bunch of props to use as sound effects and play a certain song at the beginning for the theme music, as well as improvise commercials.

In high school i discovered the concept album, but even before that i would fall asleep to a cassette playing random songs i’d recorded off the radio (which at the time meant h0lding my cheap cassette player up next to my clock radio) and imagine stories linking the otherwise unrelated songs.

I like telling stories and i like doing it through sound.

As a young man i made a bunch of conceptual theater works. They were stories and somewhere between theatrical and kind of progish music (yes, i know, i am a total dork). They were definitely interesting and different for what they were, if not overreaching, overdone and a bit rough around the edges technique wise, although some served me quite well. And then, one day, i stopped. I had run into a brick wall creatively, these projects were becoming a bit ridiculous and not actually being pulled off well enough. I started making entirely different albums. I changed my name to Mocha Lab. Each album still had a theme, but the theme was more in the genre, style or approach. This turning point was one of the best things i ever did artistically, as my skill in my craft began to take leaps.

But i still wanted to tell stories and could not shake that.

I had no desire to make some kind of archaic concept album, all proggy and vague which takes the listener 20 listens to figure out what’s going on. That was great for adolescence, but it’s interest had waned. With some maturity had come the notion of not beating around the bush. What do you want to do? Then do it and don’t shmuck about at it. If you want to tell a story, then simply tell a story.

So i began the use of narration for these particular tracks. Instead of sung vocals, you can just plain tell a damn story.

Here, for example, is a ghost story of sorts:

Now, after over 12 years, i’ve started telling longer, multi track stories again. (see Cthulhu: The Funksical and A Melancholy Tale From The Icy Lands, as well as the upcoming album The Silver Key and the multi media theater show The Fallen) It works much better now as i have vastly more mature, sophisticated and interesting approaches and sensibilities then i once did.  However, it’s become clear that stories through music is a particular and defining trait my music will carry and the exploration of different ways to go about it will continue to fascinate me.

A retelling of the story of Cain and Abel:

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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


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The Fallen

Today we’re going to look at another show which i wrote sometime back, The Fallen.

It’s a very different animal than the Steampunk Opera, but it too is a theater piece. It’s performed by 2 singers, 10 dancers and features a wall of film that is crucial to the storytelling. The singers, dancers and film all interact in various ways to further the tale.

The show is about a fallen angel. To wit: An angel and a demon kiss atop a cliff. The angel is filled with a rush of excitement and wishes to go and experience the world, while the demon is sad and weary, having had too much of the world. The angel removes her wings and runs off. The demon picks up the angels discarded wings, puts them on and leaps off the cliffside.

That’s the first number and of course the show goes on from there. There’s sex and drugs and dark carnivals, and a Narrator character, Raven, who is central to the show. The choreographer and managing Director is the talented and extremely industrious Shaun Rolly, with whom i have worked on a number of projects. The film is by Laurie A. Smith, a wonderful film maker whose work can be found at

For those who wish to see actual performance footage from a previous workshop production and some snippets of the new film, here’s one of our fundraising vids:

Here’s the music from the 3rd track from the show. This is only the music (and a still picture vid). In this particular show, the songs are REALLY long (not so in the steampunk opera). The female vocals are performed by the wonderful Jen Folden.

For more information, naturally you can go to the website (there’s always a website….)

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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


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My Dream Of You

So today we’ll feature a video by a wonderfully talented artist, a fine humanitarian,  a giant of artistic integrity and vision, a leader among…. ok, yeah, it’s me. (under my title Mocha Lab)

This is off my Subduction album, a downtempo project i did a few years ago which featured the wonderful voice of Milena Jelic.

This song is worth featuring for 2 reasons,

1. it’s the song that everybody likes. I mean seriously, it’s by far my most popular song

2. Somebody i do not know and have never met took the song and made it the background music for this awesome fractal animation video. Which i basically found out about 5 minutes ago when looking up the song on YouTube to put it up here. (there were initially NOT 2 reasons, just 1.)

In any case, enjoy.

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Posted by on January 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


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I am going to make a Steampunk Opera.

I  am starting this blog in order to declare my intention to make a Steampunk Opera and to document the process.

Hi. My name is Paul Shapera and I make music under the name Mocha Lab.  I will be posting many selections of my work to date so that you can get an idea of what kind of composer/music producer I am as well as other great artists whose music falls within range of this project. I’ll post on the process and details of putting a theater show up (in London, although i myself am American currently living in Eastern Europe) from the first intention to create it to the opening performance (and Gd forbid beyond).

A theater director in London, Mark Swetz, asked me about doing an opera or some other show that I might be interesting in composing. Sadly, I can’t stand opera. I like much of the orchestration, and I like the male crescendos, but in general the entire style of singing drives me beserk.

I am thoroughly well versed in musical theater, but about 10 years ago I had the realization that I couldn’t stand it anymore.  Sondheim can still work for me and I have a very soft spot for a few musicals I listened to when I was young, but you know… once again the style of singing and corniness just drives me nuts. (If, however, i had to list my 3 top musicals, they’d be Into The Woods, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Les Miserables. So there you go.) I have made several theater shows, including and especially the multi-media show The Fallen which is also on it’s way to be put up in the states, but we’ll get into that another day.

I whimsically thought about a steampunk opera, in which I would create a new genre, building heavily off of the Dark Cabaret movement (Dresden Dolls, Birdeatsbaby, Jill Tracy, Vermillion Lies… most of which I must confess I only discovered once I decided to write this opera.  Actually all I knew was Dresden Dolls, of which I’ve been a big fan. Discovering and exploring a new genre is half the fun of conceiving this). I decided to make this because after whimsically throwing the idea out, I started finding that more and more of my leisure thoughts were being spent working out ideas for the opera.  When one becomes obsessed with an artistic idea without trying to, it is a clear sign you must make it. So I contacted Mark and told him i must must MUST write a steampunk opera. He gave it a big thumbs up and wait now to hear what i’m actually going to do.

I”ve worked out a plot which i’ll go into at a later date and i’m starting the blog now, because today i will be sitting down to play the first notes of music. We’re starting at the beginning, The Overture (or Prologue, depending). I like to go in order of the story.

We’ll talk later. In the meantime I leave you with a sample of another more lighthearted musical story i’ve made. This is the first track off of Cthulhu: The Funksical, by Mocha Lab of course.


Posted by on January 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


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