Hold on, because this song exist in three versions!
It’s 1987. Thirteen-year-old Måns sits at home on Västmannagatan 33 in Stockholm and writes an uptempo song. He records it with what he has available: a piano and his dad’s TR-505, Tascam Porta 05 and MicroVerb. The result is a catchy but somewhat confused production.
A year passes. Måns has now teamed up with Olle and Anders to form Art Fact, using the songs recorded as a proof of concept. The first song to be tackled is Let’s Make Story. Anders owns a Yamaha PSR-70, and Olle a Casio CZ-101. Together with the TR-505 these synths are used to make the song sound more like a synth band. The result is even more hectic than the original, with a pumping octave bass and a nice monophonic synth hook. The arrangement is slightly less whimsical and clocks in at 1:40 instead of 2:19.
Fast forward to 1990. Art Fact are working on their second full-length demo cassette entitled Nowadays. Having trouble getting enough songs together, Let’s Make Story is once again remade, this time using the Roland D-20. As it is probably the most uptempo song in their repertoire, it is decided to put it as the opening song. A very long intro (including Anders’ brother counting backwards in Russian, as well as samplings from a aircraft carrier documentary and a Richard III movie) opens up to a slightly calmer and more structured version of the song, clocking in at 3:05.
What more can be said? Hearing the first version of this song was really impressive I remember. I also remember playing back the second version to a friend at school, and being disappointed when he didn’t like it as much as I had expected. I mean, it had drums and a cool synth line! What’s not to like?
I have no clue what the lyrics are about, but using a word like “history” seemed very grown-up and cool at the time. The out-of-character kick drum and tom fills have survived even into the final version, being somehow an essential part of the song. The drum sounds on the final version are very typical of the D-20, and not a favorite now.
Overall, this song was a milestone in Art Fact’s history. It got the band together, it was the first song we recorded as a group, and it opened up Nowadays, maybe our best effort.
It’s hard to remember how some songs were written. On these early tracks it was mostly Måns who came up with the general form, while we others had opinions on details I would say. This sounds like a song that was created in the sequencer rather than on the piano. It has som awkward seams between song parts, especially every time the intro comes back. It sounds like the song grinds to a halt.
Listening back to it now, my favourite part is the chorus (if you can call it that) when the the drum fills answer Måns vocals. I find it rather groovy for being Art Fact! Also Måns bluesy slides on some notes in the verse are nice, and quite typical.
We often had trouble coming up with a middle-8 part, and in many songs we would just do a drum break or something without new chords or melodies. Here we at least came up with some new weird bass notes and something similar to an arpeggio with a filter sweep, but I wonder if the song wouldn’t have been better if we just cut that part out.
This song was clearly all produced using the Yamaha V50, its sound is very distinctive. All synth sounds are very dry. I don’t think the V50 had any onboard effects, and it doesn’t sound like we added any later. Since there is only one vocal, I guess we only used 3 of the 4 tracks available in the Tascam Porta 05. That’s minimal!
This song existed even before I joined Art Fact. Måns and Olle went to music school, and had already started a band called Cairo. This was in 1987 or so. Måns recorded some songs, including this early version:
This version uses his Måns’ father’sTascam Porta 05 portastudio, Roland TR-505 drum machine, piano, and Alesis MicroVerb. I think Olle later added the synth line intro using his Casio VL-1 and loooots of reverb. There are lot’s of similarities between the early demo and the version that ended up on In Fact, but two (in my opinion) major hooks were added:
First of all the drum fill intro. Måns played some drums at the time, or at least he had a practice kit set up in his room. He knew how to play the standard drum fills on toms, which in 99 cases of a 100 go from smaller (high pitch) to bigger (low pitch). But when programming the intro to the song he came up with a fill that in all its simplicity I’ve never heard before or after. The upwards motion works really well as an intro, and leads the way to…
The drum beat. Most drum beats have a snare on beats 2 and 4, but the early version only had it on beat 2, and the In Fact version only on beat 4. This gives the song a sort of half-beat feel.
The last hook on my list is the same in the two versions, and that is the lyrics “I am clean and you are dirt / You tell me to wash my shirt”. I have no idea what this really means, but it’s a line that has stuck in my head for many years.
The In Fact version again uses the Tr-505 but then mainly Olles Casio CZ-101. Those who owned one can easily identify it’s sound in the break.
At the time I was extremely impressed that Måns and Olle had written and recorded songs of their own. Not just by the musical skill to pull it off, but also by having access to a portastudio and drum machine. Back then, this was more or less rocket science and really expensive. I knew I had to team up with those guys….