First off, I would like to thank everyone for listening to my album, sharing with other people and giving me feedback. In the past couple of weeks I have seen it get close to 900 downloads, be shared on several great blogs and explode as a semi-viral force on 4chan, which is absolutely disillusioning and amazing to me and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the success Swung from The Branches has seen.
For those who care, I’m going to make some physical copies of the album available for sale from here and the myspace page in a few days, I just need to find a new tape deck to dub the cassettes that I have, as the one I have now is in really rough shape and has been producing shit quality tapes. No good. They’re probably going to be about five bucks.
Also, as I promised in an early post, I’ve written out the explanations and lyrics for each one of the tracks on Swung from The Branches for those who are interested. I don’t usually spend much time of encoding the meaning of a song through lyrics or on actually writing the words but instead through the tone and music used, but it all kind of ties in together in the end. I also usually really like reading about the authors intent and ideas about songs, so yeah, here it goes:
The album was recorded using Ableton 7 and 8 and a 4-track Akai reel to reel. The basis for all of the music on Side A of the was created in about three nights using only a guitar, a looping pedal and a sampler. The only synthesizer that was used was on the bass notes in ‘Coffee Cups’, the bells in ‘Ninth Floor’ and the obvious room-recorded microkorg in ‘8 / 29 / 91’. The album cover is from a photo I found while working in a photolab that was taken in 1943, according to the date written on the back.
"Operating Room" was salvaged from an old guitar loop I recorded in early December 2009. I named it what I did because it reminded me of the sounds, sterility, air of life and death and my own experiences in hospitals. As an intro track, I thought it set the mood of the album appropriately.
"Basement Window" was recorded at the same time as most of the tracks on Side A. I tried to capture the feeling of being in my old basement in the suburbs and looking outside though a small window after being up all night with friends after having taken ecstasy and having the world seem altered and anxiety provoking, and having to work up the will to either try and sleep or go outside and face the world.
I made "Sleeping Building Unsuspecting" in an attempt to capture the idea of feeling like the only one awake in my apartment building at 4:30 AM, and being totally isolated.
The lyrics for "Coffee Cups that Won’t Break Down" were written while biking through Bronte in Oakville one night on a notepad that I had:
Think about it
Tripped out, silver dollar
Coffee cups hat won’t break down
Is he wondering, you’ve been waiting
Knee deep water, he’s the red one
You’ve been waiting
They're about being in the middle of obsessive unrequited love and knowing your feeling won’t be returned and that they’re destructive but in knowing that, your attraction grows. The ending of the song suggests becoming free of those feelings.
The song it segways into ‘Ninth Floor View’ is what it is; a brief meditation on what I see from my window at night. “Cream Screen” contains a sample of an ice-cream truck I recorded from my from porch in Oakville.
“8 / 29 / 91” contains a sample of Charles Bukowski reading a journal entry that I found in a video on YouTube. In the final stages of mixing the album this song took on a more significant personal meaning when I realized the date he reads at the beginning (August 29th, 1991) is the exact date of my younger brother Drews' birth, who died in April of 2008. The majority of my body of work is directly inspired by his life and the events surrounding his death.
“Mialectric” contains a bunch of samples recorded to a cassette deck on Yonge St. in Toronto and at my friend Mias house. The guitar was recorded at my cottage on New Years eve. The music is intended to represent the feeling of an impending panic attack or mounting anxiety a public place, and the collapse of rational thought.
“Bronte Balloons” was written about the feeling of spending my days and nights on the streets in the neighbourhood near my house when I was 16 or 17 and how I began to notice my perception of and feelings towards familiar things around me changing, being unsure if it was because of my drug use at that time or if it was a normal part of getting older.
“New Panic Cure” is an alternate version of an older song called “Panic Cure Dub” which was written about a series of inside jokes made up the first time I met my friend Tyson regarding emotional issues. Five of us were sitting in my bed after having spent the whole night partying at my house together and he said something along the lines of “I would really like a manicure”, and I said “I would really like a panic cure”. Hilarity ensued and I promised I would write a song called Panic Cure. My bed frame broke about 5 minutes later. The original version contains cut up samples of a song he and I improvised and recorded together.
Try to shut it out
Forget who you were
Deep breaths and find a cure
“Jimi Bleachball” was written and recorded for a video project I had to do for one of my classes at OCAD. I shot the video first and then got a feel for what would fit well with it, then recorded the song. The lyrics around about a summer I had in 2006 that I shared with three close friends that changed my life. I think everyone’s kind of got a summer like that.
I saw my best friend counting his heartbeat
I saw the best days wasted on sleeping in
Try hard to feel it, mind has now wandered
Hands meant to hold hands, kept from the cold, I don't know
Kids riding two lives, swung from the branches
Kept in our backyards, soon to be sunsets
Oh summer blister, smoking in the van
Go down together, the pavement we've conquered
The majority of “Please Note” was recorded using an Akai reel to reel tape machine and vocal samples for the synthesizer patch and some other experimental production techniques that I wanted to try out. Was largely inspired by Broadcast which I was listening to a lot of at the time of recording this album. The sample in the middle is a clip of a man named Clive Wearing speaking, who only has a short term memory capacity of 30 seconds, and the worst case of amnesia ever known.
“Snow Angels” was hugely inspired by Angelo Badalamenti’s original music in the television show Twin Peaks, which I got the DVD box set for for Christmas from my Mom. It’s meant to kind of be a cheesy slow dance pop song. The lyrics are about friendship, and the effects of winter on my state of mind.
Cut down attention span, winter is overtaking me
I sit by the window sill, listening the wires that pass above
And it gave to another holiday
We’re feeling good on the morning we celebrate
You can’t be real, there’s nothing to give
And you say it’s snowing where you live
A box of Christmas cards that I’ll never need
For best friends that I could never read
I’ll trace the call to the center of your bed
I wanna know those thoughts that circle inside your head
The music for “15 Ativan (Song for Erika)” was written in early 2009 for my friend Erika Altosaar and is based on the opening two chords of “Femme Fatale” by the Velvet Underground. The lyrics were written on stage during an early Foxes in Fiction performance one day after hearing about a friend of mine who had overdosed on anti-anxiety medication the night before and called a friend to take her to the hospital. The lyrics are sort of an invented perspective / interpretation of that event.
15 Ativan, alone in a townhouse rented to a kid
Don't call an ambulance, cold, alone
She knew it'd take a while
She held on tight to the dreams she had as a kid
She knew it'd take a year to kill the fear
Cold nights spent outside
A phone book filled with named of people she would call
Will you spare your time and share your crime
“To Go Home” was written about a news story I read about children in Haiti being abducted and sold as slaves or sex trade workers after the earthquake.
Buried in the ruins
Mom and Dad
Can’t feel my hands
Can’t feel the sun
I want to go home
I want a home to go to
Where we can send our love
Instead you send me away
“Memory Pools” is about an afternoon I spent with some close friends during Fall of 2007.
In the hall, tension breaks down
He wrote songs, they started quietly
Ended with a sound, a feeling all around
On the hill, secrets exposed
Memories, seeing different sides
Walking back to your swimming pool
The leaves were red, the air was blue
On my street, feelings come true
Street lights surround this place we found
“Insomnia Keys” is an instrumental song I wrote after being up all night with restless insomnia. I didn’t really have anything in mind when recording it. I included a recording of the street below my window in it.
“Visiting Hours” is made from a different recording of the same guitar used in the first track "Operating Room". I used it to kind of bring the album around full-circle, and stay within the theme of life and death in hospitals.
Thanks guys, I apologize for the rambling nature of this post. More good stuff coming soon.
* For now, here's a cover I just did of my good friend Josef's song "Anak". Josef makes some incredible music under the name De Rol Le', and he just finished a beautifully textured album which you can get here. *
DOWNLOAD: Anak (De Rol Le' cover)