Phase 6. My tribute to Trish Keenan of Broadcast. It was planned that way. I was looking forward to it because I knew I would never lack inspiration for the single.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard about Trish's sudden death. It was snowing. I was on Mont-Royal street in Montreal and I was checking my emails when I came accross a post by my friend Nicolas (of Team Ghost): RIP Trish Keenan. It was a brutal shock that went through my entire body. I remember walking back home, with heavy bags full of groceries... I thought I would never get to my place. I was heavy, slowed down by a profound sadness.
The following night, I recorded a cover of a Broadcast song called "Distant Call" (LINK!!) which as always been one of my favorites. Maybe because it was the b-side to another favorite track of mine: "Come On Let's Go". To me, it is a perfect single. An uplifting pop number followed by the most nostalgic and beautiful song. I recorded the song acapella, as I was listening to Trish's voice in my headphones. I was singing with her. My own way of saying goodbye I guess. Although a few weeks later, I attended her funeral and I felt lucky to see James again. It was all very surreal. Unbelievably sad.
But more than a year later, when came the time to write a song for Trish, it wasn't just sadness that was left in me to find some inspiration. There was a strength, some kind of surnatural power that Trish gave me... It will all sound really phoney but that's how I felt as I was writing There Is A Voice.. The lyrics were inspired by emails that Trish sent me about two years ago now. One of them was describing a huge winter storm that happened in the UK. She was describing how the canal right by their home was all transformed, frozen, and that everything looked "quite alien". But I also wanted to make the song about Trish's voice, that voice that was present so often in my life. It had to be about her voice.
I have no clue how the composition happened: the music came to me instantly. I guess it's not just a tribute to Trish but to Broadcast's music in general, their world and their sound. The sonic space that I was in while writing There Is A Voice was a familiar place for me so the assembling of all the components happened so quickly. I was a little self-conscious at times, because I knew the sound quality wasn't exactly what I wanted it to be. But I did get some help from a few friends, including the addition of some sound effects created with the help of a Roland Space Echo, thanks to my friend Philippe Roberge, an tape-delay device that Trish used to use a lot on her vocals in the last few years. And my friend Simon Tremblay (AKA James Bay) did the mastering, giving the track more presence and depth. As a huge Broadcast fan, I think Simon was happy to contribute to the track.
The song is messy, there are tons of things to listen to... including some 60s electronic music samples. I felt like using some samples was also adequate because Broadcast was one of the first bands that used samples that I was immediately drawn to, on "Work and Non Work" which was the first music I ever heard by them... a compilation of their early singles. The idea of using samples also seemed natural in a way. I wanted a sound that was busy and dense, combining different elements that to me, defined Broadcast's music production. But in my own lo-fi style of course.
Listening to the song now, with a bit of perspective, I realize that the bridge sounds a lot like some early Montag tunes. Maybe it was subconscious but I met with Trish before I even started making music and using sounds that are reminescent of Montag's early days made sense. It really reminds me of how Broadcast influenced me when I was writing my very first demos.
I think I might understand where that strong friendship came from. Trish and I had the same passion for music. Not the same talent. I don't consider myself as a significant composer - just a passionate music maker. Broadcast was and is an important band. And becoming friends with Trish and James is something I will always be grateful for, it was life changing and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be writing those lines and half of the music I ever wrote if I hadn't met them. They were the reason why I realized I had to make music, to embrace my passion for it.
So this is my own humble way of saying thank you to a friend and a truly great artist. Hope you enjoy the track.
LE PAVILLON DE LA FRANCE
I have been working on an iPhone application that is a guided tour of the site of Expo 67, the universal exhibition that happened in 1967 in Montreal. I was asked to write some original music for the project and I asked James Cargill if he'd be interesed in collaborating on a few tracks. The music is meant to be a sound portrait of some of the pavillions that are still on the site today. The French Pavillion is now Montreal's casino - a shame really because the building has a unique architecture. But the music was written so that we can really feel the language of the building's architecture. James contributed to this b-side with some spaced-out arpeggios sound that are meant to represent "the spinning movement" that its metallic structure creates.
James and I wrote a track inspired by The Man, a massive sculpture by American sculptor Alexander Calder, as well as a track inspired by the American Pavillion, designed by Buckminster Fuller.
All very geeky, I know. The application will be available as of September. I'll probably post something on my website then!
Next month: a song with some choir arrangements!
|graphic design and Phases artwork by Curiousflux|