This is both a personal favorite, and one of our most played songs. In 2011 it was included on the Hidden Tapes CD, which was really flattering for us to be part of.
The songs from this period were mostly recorded at Olle’s house, where we used to meet after school to drink soda, play synths and computer games (on Olle’s Amiga). This song probably originated with the arpeggio, generated in the Yamaha V50. The water drops in the intro was recorded in Olle’s bathroom, straight to tape. Must have been tricky getting enough signal :)
Once again I’m amazed how minimalistic our productions were, compared to how music sounds today. This sparseness leaves a lot of space for Måns’s vocals and the lyrics, which is a bit more epic than usual. I have a faint memory that Måns wrote the verses, but couldn’t come up with anything to sing in the choruses, and that I suggested the “rain in the south”-part which has little to do with the rest of the song but has a nice ring to it (if I may say so myself).
When preparing this track for the Hidden Taped CD, we recorded our old cassettes into Logic and used the Denoiser noise reduction plugin to get rid of the hissing and humming. The difference was quite remarkable as you can compare in Måns’ blog post on the process.
Payday is the second track in our weekly series “A song a week”. Payday was the second track on our first cassette “In Fact”, and was recorded some time in the late 80’s, most likely in 1989.
Payday is made using only the Yamaha V50 and its internal sequencer. Well, almost. The “intro” being a number of coins dropped on a mirror, recorded straight to tape (we didn’t own a sampler) is the only sound not originating from Yamaha’s wondrous work station.
This was a very different machine than the Roland D-20 we had used up until we got the V50. Using FM synthesis and sporting a step programmer in the sequencer we made good use of these features. Payday is using what is probably a number of presets, especially the bells in the chorus and the drums. What makes the sound in this song for me is the square lead playing the hook in the chorus. Together with those bells, it really gives of that great 80’s vibe.
Of course I am partial, but I think the vocals on this track sound great! They’ve got that “blues-y” feeling that made Art Fact special. I really don’t know where my inspiration came from to sing that way – none of my then-heroes sang that way, and it’s certainly not a very “synth” vocal sound, which I’m grateful for now, since it sounds better than most contemporary vocals.
The verse is nothing but drums, bass and vocals. This is typical for the naive productions we made back then, and the thing is that we simply didn’t know any better. We didn’t know what to put there, so we thought we were done. Today it sounds extremely minimalist, but it’s purely by accident.
For some reason, we decided that adding a drum fill after the title word “Payday” is sung in the song would be cool. What is not cool though, is the poorness of said drum fill. Listen for it. :)
Starting today, we will try to say a few words about every Art Fact song. Starting with Whom Are You Dancing For?, this was far from the first song we ever wrote or recorded, but it’s the first track we released (if you can call hand-copied cassettes “releases”). Listening to it now it sounds like one of those tracks that started by just tinkering with some drums and bass sounds. There is quite a lot of borrowed stuff in this song, from the typical octave bass (from Depeche Mode´s Photographic) to some lyrics like “life in itself” and “they can’t get no / satisfaction”. On this particular track I remember that Måns showed the lyrics to his English teacher, who wanted him to change the title to the more grammatically correct “WHO are you dancing for?”. Claiming his artistic freedom, Måns refused to change it.
The track is done using just the Roland D-20. It was probably completed at Olle’s house. The drums are quite busy, but at this point we didn’t use any hihat since that sounded too much like a rock drummer. I remember that we recorded the harp-like arpeggio by hand, slowing the tempo down quite a bit. We also automated the stereo panning a lot, which still sounds pretty good I think.
Overall it’s a very minimalist track. In the chorus it’s just drums, bass and vocals! But at the time I think we didn’t know what else to put in there.
we pointed him out to the ruler himself
we looked in his eyes to see the darkness inside
i tried to disagree with you
but your cruel words put me back
i’d like to change a word with you
but your mind is far away
i met a beggar yesterday
and he reached out his hand
his palm was full of grey-blue stains
and his clothes were full of mud
the dirt will never come off my eyes
sometimes i like to save his soul
but you tell me not to
let’s help this man to ease his pain
let’s not let him go
we’ll give him all he needs to live
a normal life again
we’ll follow him just to make sure
that he keeps on the road