Death of the Sweetheart
Antifreeze in Summer
IT has been a long time since a zeitgeist really swept across music…
and really brought about movement and change. My favourite music is Rock and Jazz Rock; Jazz itself and ‘90s sounds- love the ‘60s and ‘70s masters too. Recently I have been getting into the U.K.’s early-2000s Garage/Hip-Hop blenders- the likes of The Streets and Dizzee Rascal. The former has particularly compelled me; listening to Original Pirate Material (the debut from The Streets) and you get that confidence and genius; the amazing and unique sound- an artist with a rare and special voice. Mike Skinner (The Streets’ human voice) followed up that debut with an even better album- the peerless A Grand Don’t Come For Free. This was a concept album that looked at the British streets and drinking culture; the seedy figures and everyday concerns- music that spoke to the working-class and those often ignored in music. A stunningly intelligent writer with a savage wit; Skinner ensured his music packed serious poetic cut with tremendous compositions- resulting in music of the highest order. Dizzee Rascal emerged at the same time with his 1-2 wonder: that phenomenal debut Boy in da Corner; its no-less-impressive follow-up Showtime. Those albums showed two of Britain’s best- in fact possibly the only- rappers; writing music that documented the concerns of the youth- the struggles and issues they faced. Perhaps it was a product of the time- and captured a feeling and desire- but I’d like to think that spark could be recaptured. Being quite unhappy as-of-late; I decided to see if I can write something positive. Over the last few days I have written a five-track E.P. I hope to get out next year:
Antifreeze in Summer
A play on words that looks at the problems of the modern times. Antifreeze (in this context) refers to heroine; how people with nothing bad in their life- who have privilege and advantage- turn to the drug and try to ‘cure’ themselves. It also refers to global warming and the changing climate; in addition to the depression people can feel when all is sunny and bright- themes that are explored in the E.P.
The album cover would boast a striking central image. Inspired by the photo below; it would be a similar shot that perfectly documents the themes and ideas of the E.P. - something that is haunting, beautiful and memorable.
Having written the lyrics; I will be working on the compositions and basic instrumental tracks. I am hoping to pitch the songs to a singer I know- who has the perfect voice for it- and contribute to the vocals. It essentially will be a duo project- vocals switch and you get two different perspectives- that brings in collaborators. Because a few of the tracks have female ‘voices’; there will be a few female singers involved- that can play characters and add their talents to the mix. Listen to the likes of Boy in da Corner and A Grand Don’t Come For Free and that is the sort of sound I am going for- vocalists that add a raw and street-level sound- expect for the final track which would showcase a soulful female voice.
There will be the odd sample thrown in but in terms of compositions there is a chance for other musicians. A lot of the music will be composed by the band/laptops but there will be harder guitars and beats; some liquid and funky bass- bringing some great musicians into the fold.
I hope to get the tracks started and rolling in the spring; with the view of releasing the E.P. by the end of 2016. It would be funded via a Kickstarter campaign- to afford the recording and production- where the backers would be offered rewards. This would include appearing in the lead music video and lending their voice to the album. I hope to record the album in London and Manchester; there will be home recording too giving it a D.I.Y. feel. Because it is an ambitious album- even though it is quite simple- it will involve a lot of studio time (in addition to home recording).
Antifreeze in Summer would be a five-track E.P. that would tackle modern-day concerns.
“The Journey” (5:34)
A track that pokes fun of pious musicians that describe everything as a journey. Tackling Pop stars with few issues and problems; it is a song that looks at real struggle and real music- cutting down bland bands and acts that sound alike and say nothing new. The track would marry a hard and heavy beat with electronic fever; tying in some moody and edgy strings- similar in key to Catch Me If You Can’s score- and guest vocals.
Mine’s a Double! (3:32)
This would be one of the most direct and assaulting tracks. Hard and primal; it would address the drinking culture and the types that numb themselves with alcohol- not giving a damn how much destruction they cause. Looking at a central figure and his guest to get as drunk as possible; it would mix with contrasting voices- the hero getting smashed and causing trouble; the narrator then tries to talk sense to proceedings.
A tale that sees the hero goes to K.F.C. at the weekend with his friend Dave. There is meets a girl called Amelia. She is very different and has a boyfriend with a B.M.W. Making brief eye contact in the queue our man is smitten even though they are very different- she has expensive clothes and different tastes. Later that night the hero and Dave go to a local club where there is chaos and mayhem. Amelia is there and they are separate all night- our hero unable to break through the crowd but they meet outside. Going to the hero’s place, they spend the night- our man thinks this is love and the real thing. Seeing a note left by Amelia; she has just used him and he’s another notch for her. Taking inspiration from the song Cecilia- the song paraphrases the lines “Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart/you’re shaking my confidence daily”. It is a love story from different perspectives. Taking in the sights and sounds of a London night; it has flavours of early-career The Streets.
East End Boys (8:12)
The most ambitious track on the E.P. it would parody West Side Story. Looking at a gang of girls- in the sense they are social media-obsessed and rather shallow- called The Swifts from Chelsea; an East End gang called The Isle Dogz (they hail from Isle of Dogs). The song's lead male starts in K.F.C. with a friend when he spots Facebook. A row and battle starts because of an offensive comment Tina made about Joe. Tina and Joe are the former lovers; Joe stopped calling her and she was too clingy. Just as comments are being left on the post the boys decide to confront the girls; the gangs both meet in Camden one evening- after the girls stop by a gun shop on their way.
The lovers lead their gangs and argue in the street- the gang members all taking verbal shots at the other- until the two dance and kiss in the street. The police have been called and the gangs run from the sirens. They get to the Banbury Estate (Islington) where things get heated. Until this point one of the Isle Dogz (the narrator) has been cautious and apprehensive- he is the only one that wants this to stop and not be there.
The second act sees the lovers arguing and trying to keep control. Both want to escape to Norfolk for a quieter life but are dragged in by debt, drugs and gang loyalty. Just as the gangs are heated and at their fiercest- after a silly dispute- one of the girls find a gun. As they rumble, the narrator gets caught in the crossfire- as he slumps to the street. Just as he bleeds and slips away he regrets not having been honest to his parents- told how much they mean to him. His mum and dad are struggling but look after him- his depression and issues- but he never said how much it meant. The narrator dies. The guilty girl is in shock- “Now I kill too, because now I have love”- paraphrases West Side Story’s immortal line- as sirens blare once more. As our hero drifts away, the gangs circle his body. As the stretcher is lead away arrests are made and the story ends- Tina and Joe makes it away in a stolen car and headed for Norfolk. The final sounds we hear is a voice message on the hero's phone- his mum apologising and asking him to call her- and the satellite navigation setting route for Norwich- as the two speed away.
The song utilises the West Side story The Rumble and a harder rock sound- blending with something orchestral. It features guest vocals- from gang members to police- but the central sane voice is from the narrator- who watches the madness unfold. There would be a few parodies of West End Girls- paraphrasing the odd line and borrowing composition snippets- but would look at gun violence and the need to ape the U.S.; the gang culture still faced- how the young feel the need to eradicate one another for respect. There would be plenty of wit and humour among everything giving the song balance. The track would bring in previous characters/songs- Amelia is in K.F.C.; the opening line would see us announce the song/band; stating we're having a double (before the tale begins); claiming it to be a huge emotional journey.
Hold On, Don’t Let Go (5:30)
An emotional and redemptive final number that looks at anxieties and depressions- people facing their bleakest days. The hero expels his own troubles and woes; how people can’t grip how serious things are- and understand what he’s going through. It has a positive message that implores everyone to hold on and know things will get better. That honest and raw emotion is backed by the E.P.’s most simple and sparse composition- strings and a piano line; a classical guitar tumble that adds some light and energy- that promises things will get better; giving guidance to those in a similar boat.
As Is Now…
The lyrics are all written so it is a case of getting the compositions sorted and the ‘band/act’ formed. I am really pleased with the subjects, lyrics and ideas that have come out- I have not suffered any blocks or struggled to get the thoughts down. I hope it comes to light very soon and that that sound- The Streets and early-‘00s- captures something missing in music. There are a few good Hip-Hop/Garage acts yet few that actually address subjects away from love and money. Whilst The Streets and Dizzee are not at their peak- The Streets lost credibility and momentum after the sophomore album; Dizzee is declining- it seems like there is a need and hole to be filled.
Hope that 2016 brings serious happiness and improvement for us all; and some great and