A song a week #10: No, No, No!


Jonas photographed from some video experiment.
Jonas photographed from some video experiment.

Another personal favourite from In Fact, this track has some nice features that show that we were getting better and better at writing and producing songs. First of all, we used the fact that Olle could also sing really well. It is he who sings the backing vocals in the choruses, which probably means that we used all four tracks available for once.

Second, the middle-8 part is really good and serves its purpose. There are some nice chord changes and melodies (including a nice FM bell from the Yamaha V50). If we would have been even better at producing we would have cut the last verse after the middle-8 and gone straight for some finishing choruses. The song feels a bit long now.

The chord sequence in the verse is sort of an extended 12 bar blues, which works pretty good with Måns’ pseudo-bluesy vocals. I don’t know where we got this influence from, maybe from Yazoo who at least I listened to a lot during this period. This song was probably written mostly by Måns, so maybe he also did.

Finally, the intro and ending, or outtro as we used to call it (still do actually). The intro was once again some kind of field recording sound, in this case Fröken Ur, the national speaking clock. I don’t think there was any thought behind this selecting, it was just one of the few things available to record. The outtro is, just like the middle-8, a bit more elaborate than usually for this period. I think the fast arpeggio was recorded using the V50 step sequencer.

Overall, this song is an indication towards a more mature style and expression (if you can say that about 15-year-olds) that was more developed on the second cassette Nowadays.

Listen on Spotify.

A song a week #9: Tell Me Why

The whole gang during our first photo-shoot in 1989.
The whole gang during our first photo-shoot in 1989.
From left: Jonas Embring, Anders Ljung, Olle Söderström, Måns Jonasson.



Oh, yes! I’m so happy that it was my (Måns) turn to write this week. This is definitely one of the very best songs from In Fact, and I have very vivid memories of recording this song too.

“Tell me why” stands out as a great little pop ditty with, for Art Fact, very well-defined song structure. There is nothing hidden in this track, nothing left to the imagination or that could have been done that wasn’t done. Simplicity, pure pop. I love it! Of course, this is pretty far from synth-pop and I’d say that our influences from Erasure are very clear in this track.

This track is made with Roland D-20, although I am fairly certain that there was an earlier version made on the PSR-70, sadly gone today because it was probably never recorded. There are a couple of cute quantizing errors very typical for how we worked with the D-20, because we never knew if we should quantize in 1/16 or 1/32. Sometimes we did it wrong and there are a couple of off beats in this one.

The bass line is classic octaves, in a bouncy, sort-of slap bass sound. A weird choice maybe, but it works. One thing that is very different here is that we allowed Anders to add a GUITAR to the chorus. Again, I blame Erasure since Vince Clarke was dabbling with guitars at this time as well, at least in the “Sometimes” video, which we loved. I know that Anders doesn’t like that guitar sound any more, but I think it really works and blends in nicely.

Vocals then. The vocals are, in my own opinion, probably the best ones I recorded on In Fact. I did the recording in my bedroom in my parents’ home at Västmannagatan, and I remember that it was fairly late so my little sisters were sleeping and I sang so loud that my step-mother came to tell me to quit. Anyway, I got it done and today I still really like how they turned out. Blues-y, and really “on”. You need to remember that I was only 16 years old or so, which is the main reason I’m impressed today.

The lyrics are nothing special really. It’s all about rejection and not understanding why, in a teenage angst sort of way. The up-beat music doesn’t really match the lyrics.

Listen on Spotify!

A song a week #8: Problems

Bild 30-003
Måns walking past the square outside what much later became rock club Debaser in Stockholm.

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!

Listen on Spotify!

A song a week #7: Dig A Hole For Me

Anders outside our "studio" in the school Måns and Olle went to.
Anders outside our “studio” in the school Måns and Olle went to.

Oh boy.

This is quite akward. This song is really, really hard to listen to, since it really shows how young and silly we were. This is almost a novelty song, with stupid jokes and laughs throughout. If you can take listening to it, some of the details below might be interesting.

The bass line is the “fantastic” Yamaha PSR-70, the first machine Anders owned (I think) and I would borrow it, use the built-in very simple sequencer to write songs, and sometimes it would be impossible to find replacement sounds when we actually wanted to record the song. This bass sound is actually quite cool, I like it. The “strings” are also PSR-70 I believe! Other than PSR-70, the drums and sound effects are Roland D-20, and the bridge lead is most likely from Olle’s Casio CZ-101.

The lyrics are stupid. Something about wanting to die, but clearly not very serious, regardless of the message. The only part of the lyrics I like now are in the intro: “I searched for hours, days and for weeks. I know now my search was in vain.”

The vocals are good, as usual on In Fact. It’s easy to hear now why listeners were impressed by my vocals, as I had a very clear and distinct voice, being schooled in choir and opera. I think all of the backing vocals on this track are improvised during the recording, which is quite impressive, at least in the intro where it works quite well, even with the weird screaming at the very top.

OK, let’s stop this now. Next week we’ve got one of the best tracks from In Fact (at least in my opinion) so I’m looking forward to reading Anders’ writeup of that instead of this nonsense song.