Blow by Blow - "Things That We Had Said"
Posted by Francesca de Valence on Monday, August 19, 2013
Making this EP has been immensely satisfying for me musically and creatively. Working with Paul McKercher (producer, engineer) was a huge part of that, as were the songs themselves - they are so much more honest, grown-up and developed than I’ve ever written before. And seeing them ‘graduate’ to this EP was a proud moment for me.
In the past I’ve found it hard to talk about what each song is about. They are so personal and are about real experiences and represent some pretty raw emotions. I feel that I am able to ‘fool’ people and disguise some of the brashness and directness of the song’s real meaning through music – maybe I’m fooling myself - perhaps I can’t hide it, who knows? However when people ask me about the songs, I feel a compelling need to protect the songs and, thus, myself.
This blog entry is my first attempt to open up about the songs (and recording process) in words – words that aren’t poetic and aren’t musically minded. Here it goes...Blow By Blow..
I decided to open the EP with You Know What You Did as it is the most direct and candid song in my opinion. It is about an estranged friendship and the subsequent fear of other people’s judgments.
The vocal performance features scatting (vocal improvisation) - a throwback to my jazz education years at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. I suppose it’s rare to hear this in a pop song, however, I am not going to attempt to compartmentalise my influences. They’re all there and they all contribute to my creative writing.
Beautiful Night is about the heaviness in life and trying to stand up despite it all. When I was writing this song, I kept seeing Brisbane’s Story Bridge in my mind. At the time there were plenty of horrific fatalities that were happening on the bridge, and this song is my daring to ‘play’ with these thoughts in my mind. Like many of my songs, it still has hope despite its weightiness.
Desire is my homage to J.S. Bach as demonstrated in the opening harpsichord motif. His work has been influential in the creation of my music. I loved playing Bach’s Preludes and Fugue in my teens and immersed in their incredible harmonic structures. Well, I loved when I was able to play them - the learning part wasn’t so fun (the complexity of his music was a sometimes a headache when practicing the piano at 5am before school).
The Fighter is my idealistic view of living a fantastical life and my unwillingness to compromise despite the wearying nature of this fight.
I loved being able to play my violin on this track. As an instrument I played for so long, but don’t play anymore, there was some sense of fulfillment. I thought maybe, just maybe, I still had some chops after all these years and that all those hours of practice wasn’t completely wasted.
Actually on that – parents try not to be so dishearten when your kids quit learning their musical instruments. The life of a musician isn’t an oft-followed path and certainly has no guarantees of a successful career. I think contributing to the welfare of their cultural appreciation, perhaps, is the bigger picture. Whilst your kid may not be a musician and all those years of lessons are seemingly ‘wasted’, they are so much richer for the experience and will more likely be supporters of the arts when growing up. And it’s those people who come to shows, concerts, gigs, etc.
The lyrics of Sleeping Dogs tell a story about a quarrel two people had whilst driving on a dark, long road (yes it involved me). The energy in the car took on a different life form and was manifesting all sorts of negative thoughts in my head.
The ‘Hitchcock’ string parts were heaps of fun to play – thanks to Paul for the wicked production suggestion. I’m a huge ‘Hitchcock’ fan and the drama of where those strings hit are so satisfying. When listening to the EP in the car (yeah, I’m pretty proud of it), I often will make some dramatic hand gesture at those moments – it could look to an outsider like a violin bow, like a disheveled conductor, or like Norman Bates…
Things That We Had Said
I'll be launching the EP at The Box (West End) as part of the Brisbane Fringe Festival on Friday 6 Sept, 2013. For more info on the event, please click here.