Our next single is out this Friday, 4th November!
What are you doing, Caryl? Why aren’t there already several blogs about this?
Brace yourself for an epic post!
Truth be told, I’ve been avoiding writing this blog. I sit here staring at my Edit Post box with blinking cursor thinking, “How am I going to approach this in a way that makes people want to listen to the song?” Or, “How am I going to inform those that already like the song but want to know the back story?”
I need to change it up methinks.
And tonight that means pretty pictures!
Way back in July when Matt and I first met in person, and I freaked out like a crazy cat lady, we had a discussion about what kinds of songs we wanted to make and what titles we should give them.
I spent some time nervously doodling my stream of consciousness in his notepad (I’m sorry, Matt’s Notepad. It’s ok, the mean doodle lady won’t hurt you again). This involved pictures of spiky shoes, seashells, and a small cat chasing a giant ball of wool.
We also did more useful things like listing some concepts we wanted. These included cubes, lasers, pixels, fractals, mirrors, kinetic typography, geometry and impossible objects such as the Penrose triangle. From these concepts, and surprisingly my doodles, we derived many of the titles including Laser.
Admittedly, when I first started writing I had no idea how I was going to convert the word laser into a full song. What does laser mean on a personal level? I read somewhere that, upon its invention, the laser was called “a solution looking for a problem”. For me it was a concept looking for a body.
The first line I wrote was ‘dance all the way to the edge of the spectrum’. Easy enough. What rhymes with laser? Razor, of course. I toyed with ‘amaze ya’. Thank goodness that never went through. Though, I did keep ‘amazing’ for the chorus.
I had the pleasure of writing my first lines in Japanese. The lyric I chose was actually something Dave said to me before we got married, visiting from his year out in Japan, trying to woo me with his attractive bi-lingualness. He translated and said it meant, “The light that comes from you, I love.” Sounds nice. I decided lasers were light, so that was a good enough link for me. It was going in!
People seem to be forming their own opinions about what the lyrics mean. I like this. It means whatever I’m saying is resonating in some way with the listener. I think I left it intentionally open, but to me, Laser is about trusting another person to expose what’s really in your heart, even though in the end all this might be meaningless.
This song introduces ‘the glitter’, the feminine, the vocalist and songwriter. That means it’s a big deal for me. Recording it has forced me to look at myself in a level of detail I wasn’t expecting. When I think about it, this whole project has forced me to do that multiple times. Matt has been a rock, to the point where he hasn’t even noticed he was being a rock.
My struggle came with the vocal delivery. I managed the chorus reasonably well, but the introductory lines proved to be a problem. I wanted them to sound ‘big’ to match my words about a lonely universe, but there was something wrong with the tone and it made me squirm every time I listened to it. I’ve talked about this problem before.
The solution, unsurprisingly, came from one of our biggest influences: the enigmatic Mr. Nakata. He records his vocalists by seating them and getting them to essentially ‘under-perform’ the track. It’s a lot easier to fit raging synths and audacious beats around vocals that lack those qualities. I had to go against every instinct as a singer and relinquish whatever edge I’d developed in recent years to what I call my ‘young’ voice. It’s a voice I absolutely hate using because it exposes my true nature and personality.
I am shy. I worry all the time. I often feel like an awkward teen. I seek approval.
Using this voice meant admitting all that, even though the majority of people are never in a million years going to pick up on it.
A few weeks ago Matt and I wrestled through the fine details of the track, including a hilarious time making sure the vocals were aligned exactly. It was like, “Left a bit… no, right a bit…” One of the changes was that he dropped the autotune on the majority of the take since it was making me sound like I was on the verge of tears. Great, even less to hide behind! Maybe I should be on the verge of tears…
His very first idea for the track involved laser-like synths (pew pew!) and a swing rhythm. I tried my verse lyrics over the top. I found it a tad too quick, but pressed on. I added the chorus and included some jaunty chords of my own to describe what I meant by wanting the chorus to sound like Perfume.
After that he came back with something a lot more representative of the finished track. That lovely high melody, what I call the ‘Polyrhythm Break‘, and a great big disco bassline. I don’t have a record of the draft that followed this, but within it he had constructed a little universe of his own. It opened with a synthesised singularity, swelling into a vast chordal landscape, sawtooth(ish) bassline creeping in like a threatening storm. I loved it. More, please!
I was inspired to add the first lyric, “Here in this infinitely lonely universe”. I also adapted my verse melody so I could sing through all those scientific terms more slowly, with overlapping sections panned to different parts of the mix.
Mr. Matt approved.
We continued to beat the song with our respective musical hammers over the course of the month. This one really was a team effort. Every stage was a challenge that required both of us to pull out the stops and try new, untested techniques.
The question is though, am I happy with it? Am I able to say, yes, I am proud of this song? Do I still bristle when I hear the first note? Do I dance with abandon when the last section hits?
The answers to all of these are the same: yes, of course. I am proud. So proud of us. But it’s harder to be proud of my voice, my writing, and me.
That’s just the way I am, the way my heart beats.
Laser, the 2nd single from the Glitter Punch Project will be available for digital download Friday, 4th November.