‘Explode’ featuring Chris James
When the backing track for this song was finished I felt it would be great to have someone writing not just a song but a hook that you would remember. I had heard some of Chris James’s work from different releases and got in touch as I felt he could be interesting to work with.
I felt it would be great to have someone writing not just a song but a hook that you would remember
I was out running with my iPod Shuffle entertaining me and I heard Chopstick & Johnjon’s ‘Pining Moon’ featuring Chris James. When I heard those vocals, that’s when I got the idea of him singing to the backing track of ‘Explode’. Once again I was lucky finding the right person straight away. He quickly sent me some ideas once we decided to do the song together and I fell in love with it from the beginning.
The hardest part of this one was to get the arrangement right and make room for both melodies and Chris’s lovely vocal hooks. I played around with the arrangement and used my ears for what I felt sounded good: where in the story would there be room for melody and words? I tried different things until the arrangement felt right and the song felt like it should. In the end I think I managed to get the balance just right.
‘In A Vacuum’ featuring Richard Davis
On this song you can really hear my love for 80s music like Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order and all the darker hits like Visage’s ‘Fade To Grey’. When the backing track for this was finished I had no doubts that Richard Davis would be perfect for it and luckily he loved the track. Richard took this one to the next level. He made it even more 80s and this is one of those songs and vocals that was just right from the beginning. I love that he managed to write a catchy hook on top of that weird bassline, played on the Oberheim synthesiser from the Arturia V-collection. His harmonies and my melodies remind me of all the music from the 80s that I fell in love with. I don’t know how we managed to create this piece but every time I listen to it it puts a smile on my face.
‘My Fault’ featuring HRRSN
This song started with an idea HRRSN sent to me. This was the first track we worked on together, but we already knew each other, so it felt kinda natural. I love when HRRSN sings, with his heart almost popping out of his body, but he must have hated me at some point in the process of making this song ’cause I kept pushing him to sing better and write more. I just knew he had this in him and the vocal on this song is now very special to both of us. I love the contrast between the very fragile, emotional lyrics and way of singing up against the no bullshit, in-your-face aggressive groove.
I’m sure some people might suggest I should have used Auto-Tune on some parts of the vocals here and there, but that would take away the charm and honesty of this man pouring his heart out. It’s perfect as it is.
‘Angel’ featuring Hayze
After ‘Around’ became such a big success, Hayze and I didn’t work together again for a couple of years. We were both busy and living on opposite sides of the world, but we slowly started talking about making music together again. With ‘Angel’ the dynamic had changed. This time Hayze send me the vocal idea and I started making music around it. When he send me the ‘Angel’ acapella I immediately heard that it could be a follow-up to ‘Around’ and I must have spent six or seven months getting the music right. How I ended up with the disco feel this one has I can’t explain, but when I played that bassline I immediately knew that it was right and everything progressed around that. I treasure the relationship I have with Hayze. We have great respect for each other and when we do music together there’s definitely strong chemistry.
That's usually my answer to being stuck on a track: I buy some new gear and start messing around with it
For ‘Angel’ I had just bought the LuSH-101 synthesiser from D16 Group. It was actually bought, among others soft synths, to spark some creativity and ideas into the song, so it worked. That’s usually my answer to being stuck on a track: I buy some new gear and start messing around with it on top of the song to get ideas and feel like it’s a creative process and not me tirelessly searching for the final elements.
In the final weeks before finishing the album I bought new synthesisers like SynthMaster 2, XILS 4, ImpOSCar2 and more, just to have new stuff to add as layers, FX and ambience. I didn’t want to re-use any stuff and I wanted to see if there could be any new ideas hiding out there that I could use for the final touch on the songs. That process worked out very well; ‘Out Of Control’ especially got some last-minute layers and ambience that made it 100% complete and fulfilling for my ears.
‘Glass’ featuring Symbol
I sent this backing track to Symbol as a challenge. I had a feeling he could write on any music but to be honest I didn’t think he would nail this one. We’d talked about doing more collabs after we met on ‘Lost Again’ from 2013, but I kind of sent this track to him as a challenge because I felt it was a difficult one to write on. At the same time, it was also quite special, and if something was to be written on it it had to be special too. I thought I’d get something back that was just OK, but he really suprised me and wrote something that took the whole thing to another level and even made want to choose it for a single release.
I kind of sent this track to Symbol as a challenge because I felt it was a difficult one to write on.
It took me a couple of listens to his ideas before they really caught me and I understood his flow. It ended up inspiring me to change the music a little and build all the tensions you hear in the song today. It’s a record you probably wouldn’t expect me to produce a couple of years ago, but that’s what’s lovely about making music when you start from scratch. Symbol needs credit for making this one work, though: if it wasn’t for his brilliant vocal I don’t think I would ever have finished the music. It proved Symbol’s great talents as a singer-songwriter. I think that backing track would’ve been a struggle for nine out of ten singers.
‘Out Of Control’ featuring Cari Golden
Once this was done I knew it would be the closing track of the album. It sounds like a lullaby to me and listening back now I have no idea how I came up with the melody on this one. I chose Cari Golden to sing on this because for some strange reason I knew she could nail it, and she did. I’ts another one of those first takes on the album; there was no ping-pong between us. It actually doesn’t work on a steady beat – I had an idea to put 4/4 under the vocals but quickly realised that wasn’t going to work, so rather than change Cari’s rhythm and the special vocal she had delivered I adapted the music and arrangement around her story. I feel this song is the perfect way to close the album.