How To Steal Songs
no songs just happen. even the ones that seem to just appear, with no obvious struggle, no hard graft, just gift – they actually came from somewhere. from experience, from memory, from living, from others. sometimes you just need to retrace your steps in order to see your crimes.
my song Fail For You felt like it dropped from the sky. there were some obvious things that helped form it, but looking back i’ve found more than i thought.
here’s a spotify playlist of a few key songs that i think lodged themselves in my brain, mushed together and remerged as fail for you.
imogen heap – hide and seek
yes i first heard this song through watching the o.c. too.
my first experience of a song using the auto-tune, vocoder effect. i remember it striking me pretty hard but i wasn’t taking music that seriously back then and didn’t take a lot of notice, suffice to say i bought the song and still listen to it every now and then. there’s something about voices that have always moved me more than instruments and bells and whistles. i think the human voice has an unmatched ability to express meaning, whether you’re using words or not.
bon iver – flume & woods.
i was deep into my bon iver obsession when i wrote fail for you and in a lot of ways it was an experiment. these songs were ringing through my life constantly. i had no plan to write a song that day. i just wanted to play around with these kinds of harmonies, this fresh sound that was moving me so much, but i needed a canvas to play with. i better write a song then.
amy winehouse – love is a losing game
this one is about the lyrics really. i like things that reflect reality. i like films and books that portray the actual realities of life. things don’t always end happily ever after and most times you just have to create your ‘happily ever after’ in the midst of all the pain. and i think that’s the most beautiful thing. this amy winehouse song is one of the only love songs i can think of that cuts through all the romanticised nonsense and says it like it (most often) is. and in a less explicit way that’s what i was trying to do with fail for you.
derek webb – nothing is ever enough & stephen fretwell – rain
i love the space in these songs, the way that not a lot happens, they just sweep over you, pick you up and carry you to the song’s finish. the electric guitar tones are sweet and rich and the melodies just float around, always landing where feels comfortable but not overly predictable. this was a style i really wanted to recreate with fail for you.
that’s just a few songs spanning six years or so, that have influenced me and my music. and i think specifically helped me write fail for you. but for me it’s never just songs that inspire. i steal most of my ideas from poems, books, tv and films and just living life with others. i used to think that being creative was about making great stuff from nothing but that just plain doesn’t happen. picasso convinced me that this was all fine because
‘good artists borrow, great artists steal.’