I remember coming upp with the riff for this song, just noodling around on one of our two Juno 106s in our studio (a.k.a Jonas’ brother’s bedroom). It was one of those moments where you know that one little idea will last for a whole song.
The title was probably set when saving the sequence in the computer, long before any lyrics were written. I have a vague notion it was inspired by the Twice A Man album (and live show) Driftwood, that at least I was very into at the moment.
Besides this there are the usual suspects: Roland Alpha Juno 1 on bass, Roland R8 on drums, and the Roland S-330 playing some noise probably sampled from TV. Altogether a minimalistic yet powerful soundscape. The overall feeling is very gloomy, including Måns’ vocals and lyrics (“The sky is so grey” etc). A bit like the February weather here in Stockholm at the moment actually!
My favourite part of this song is the bell “solo” towards the end. I think it was played live and improvised by Måns. It’s a nice mix of being almost sequenced, but with some variations that stick out. Is there an arpeggiator with some randomness? Would be great.
Leading off the “B-side” of the cassette we have the track which gave its name to our compilation vinyl released by Dödsdans Rekords a couple of years ago. I don’t know why the nice guys at the label decided on that name, but I quite like the title actually. Somehow it lends a nice atmosphere to the song, and it goes well with the sound.
We start off a bassline I don’t remember which synth it cam from. It doesn’t actually sound like any of our regular sounds, but it might have been the Roland Juno-1, since we were using that a lot during this time. During our The Nuclear Princess era we experimented a lot with sampling, and the intro has a submarine sonar sample going during the bass line. Then we immediately go into the beat and the very narrow pad, again I don’t really know what synth that is.
During the verse, I can hear a weird reverse-pad that is most definately a Juno-106. And we’ve got a slow verse which finishes in a hilarious turn which I know Anders hates and I am fond of. :) We only had one effect unit to use for the vocals, an Alesis Microverb. Since we really wanted the reverb in the chorus to be as large as possible, but we wanted a shorter reverb during the verse, we had to manually switch the effect during mastering, which makes the reverb “die” at the end of the first verse and start over in the chorus. It sounds weird, but somehow I think it just adds to the relative minimalism of the track.
During the break we take an actual break, and listen to sea gulls. Yep. That’s the kind of stuff we were into. I don’t remember why, or how, but the sea gulls are all alone on this track for a good 15 seconds and I guess we wanted to make the listener feel something. Do you?
All in all, not a very memorable song, and I think it could have been a lot better. The bass line is very nice, and the vocals are pretty good, but the drum beats are too monotonous and boring.
This is, as Anders just told me, possibly the “best production” we ever did. This song has a long build, from the slow intro all the way to the massive end, complete with choirs, strings and all.
I wrote the song based on an idea of singing around just one note for the whole song, and then branching out towards the end. I think it “opens up” the song in a nice way when you finally get to that sweet moment where the chords change.
The lyrics are OK too, I can picture myself as a teenager in my room trying to go to sleep but finding my head too full of thoughts, listening to the cars outside my window and the TV my parents had on in the living room. The ending is almost like a prayer, a plea for help with “sleep”, this mythical figure.
Nice build, nice tune, nice lyrics. We used our full arsenal at the time – I hear our Ensoniq EPS in the strings and the choir, I hear the Roland S-330 in the samples, I hear the Roland Juno 106 in the bass pad, I hear the Roland Juno-1 in the bassline and some of the other sounds.
Is this the best song from “The Nuclear Princess” then? Possibly so. I still like it today, and there are not many songs from TNP I can listen to without shaking my head. :)
This songs starts off with what I think is two Roland Juno 106s, one playing a little arpeggio and the other a fat drone bass. I remember that the bass patch was A33, the same we used on Building and possibly other tracks as well. We had a note taped to the synth’s front panel called “Det Holy Sounds” with a list of patches that were never to be overwritten, and A33 was the holiest of them all. Besides the 106s I think there is an Roland R8 drum machine (playing what might be the crappiest drum fill EVER as the verse starts), and the Alpha Juno 1 playing the blobby bass.
Although the second track on the cassette, I think this was one of the later songs written. My memory is shaky here, but I think this was written by Måns on piano first, when we were all suffering from some form of writer’s block, and only later dressed in electronic sounds. At least it sounds that way; there is no element in it I remember as the starting point besides the chord sequence and melody.
The chord sequence in the verse is actually one of the few highlights of the song when I listen to it now. It starts off pretty basic, but the last chord in every second turnaround breaks away from the norm. With the arpeggio synth maintaining it’s notes there is a nice effect. Another highlight is that we actually have some harmony vocals! Even though (or maybe because of) Måns, Olle and Jonas, singing a lot in boy choirs we rarely used this.
Otherwise I think this is a typical example of us forcing our song ideas into low tempos and heavy sounds. If we were to produce it today I think we would be better at recognizing it as the pop sense in the chords, and creating more contrast between verse and chorus. And raising the tempo a few bpms ;)
All right, with last week’s depressing “Wasted Minds” we are done with our cassette Nowadays and move on to our last “real” demo, “The Nuclear Princess”.
I don’t remember how much time passed between finishing “Nowadays” and starting on the songs for this demo. Something that is obvious right from the start is that we had a bunch of new equipment. We had started working more on a regular basis out of Jonas’ home where his brother had a studio set up with more stuff for us to borrow.
On this first track from TNP, we are using almost the full battery of new equipment. We have a slightly-out-of-tune (we didn’t hear that it was sour until after mastering) Roland Alpha Juno-1 playing a whining pad in the intro, and we were also using a Roland S-330 sampler, together with an Ensoniq EPS and our trusty Roland Juno 106.
We were also using a computer with sequencer software for the first time. A version of Opcode Vision made it easier for us to make our songs more complexed and layered, but it also made it easier for us to get bogged down into details.
The opening track then. “A New Book” continues on the anti-religion theme from “Nowadays” with lyrics condemning people following the letter of the bible. I don’t know why we chose this song as the opener, but it kind of sets the tone for the whole demo and new sound of Art Fact. Slower, darker and supposedly deeper. At least that’s what we thought at the time.
This song is not one of my favorites, but it’s not the worst either. It has a couple of nice melodies and cool reverse sampled speeches. My vocals are OK, doing the job but void of most of the emotion present on our earlier songs. This was very much the idea at the time, but now I think that was a bad choice. We had more of a unique sound going on when we had my “blues-y” vocals on top of the electronic sounds than when we tried hard to sound more like every other Swedish synth act at the time.