The Tension And The Spark
| The Tension And The Spark
Track By Track
Much of this new album began, quite literally, as an accident. I remember telling myself that I was not writing, that I was not in a creative head-space, because in some ways I knew deep down that the subject matter for my next project was going to come from a darker and much more personal space. And I was avoiding that. So around the same time that I was making excuses about not writing, my friends were staying in my house in San Francisco. Robert Conley my friend, engineer and keyboard player was working on tracks for his electronic project, 'Specificus', in the guest room every day. Whenever I passed by the room I'd hear what he was working on and find myself humming along.
This track, I believe, was the first time we collaborated and I swear at the time I was just casually singing along to the track. I had no idea it would result in us writing together, forging a creative relationship or that this would become the signature sound of this album and the first track. Looking back now it makes so much sense. I was kind of lulled into a sense of security because in my mind I wasn't working on a Darren Hayes record. It was something else. It allowed me to free up the subconscious.. to talk very honestly without thinking of the consequences and to leave the concept of direction up in the air. It's the introduction to the subject matter that is the central theme of the album.. here I am in Darkness.. at Zero, at my lowest point and yet still I'm searching for hope in the darkness. My favourite lyric ever is in this song... ' It's hard to take control when your enemy's old and afraid of you..You discover that the monster you've been running from is the monster in you...
I LIKE THE WAY
I think this song was the last one finished for the album. Mostly because I adopted a policy of never recording my vocal until I was sure that lyrically I was certain of what I was saying and why. Robert and I worked a lot on the track, and the sounds.. but lyrically I wanted to make sure it was as heavy and textured in detail as it sounded. It's really a song about sexuality. It's about being aware of the physical aspect of attraction as opposed to the spiritual connection of love.. and yet still being a slave to desire. In terms of my views on spirituality and eastern
philosophy I am fascinated by the concept of stages of evolution of the ego and the soul. I guess I firmly believe that lust and desire, although a huge part of the process of attraction, are embryonic or adolescent stages of love. I know that ultimately the ego craves the physical aspect but the soul wants more. And even though I like to think of myself as a pretty evolved person, I am still at war with these two opposing energies. Then on a deeper level, I guess there's a whole lot of religious and moral guilt I'm addressing and how it relates to my psyche. Probably the second most Freudian song on the album.
Around about the time I felt my world was slipping away, and there was all of this metaphorical death in my life.. of relationships.. of romance... of ego.. of esteem.. my best friend fell pregnant. And as simple as it sounds... her baby represented re-birth.. and new beginnings. In the midst of my sadness there was this joy. I think this song also represents the beginning of my healing process... of forgiving my pain, of letting go.. of love sneaking up on me.. happiness creeping in as opposed to announcing itself with a loud bang at the front door. From something ordinary it's so extraordinary. I love this song.
I'm so proud of the sound of this song. Robert had played me a five second riff from a piece of music he had written a while back. It was just one keyboard hook and I was obsessed with it. We wrote a whole track based around that vibe and created the craziest and most schizophrenic programming. There was so much editing and processing of the drums. It was laborious but such a challenge. Lyrically it's me addressing the fact that I've made the most personal album of my career in the most fickle climate. We are obsessed with fame..it has become a vocation we now train for and people are literally willing to do anything to get it. At the same time I was feeling completely bored with my persona and the corner of musical direction I'd painted myself into. I was bored with pop music, bored with the radio.. and really wrote this song as a way of poking fun at myself and the conveyor belt that brought me to this point in my career. It's ironic because in the song I'm proclaiming all the things I am not. And yet it rings true because I'm sure deep down there was and some days still is a part of me that is tempted by the devil that is fame. Spike pulled out all the stops sonically and musically with this one and took it as a challenge to make it the signature cut on the record. Im so proud of everyone who worked on this song with us. It's so infectious and fun but dark and sarcastic at the same time.
First song I ever wrote on my own. Sat down with a guitar in Dublin one day and howled deep from my heart about my woes. It's entirely literal. I was at a crossroads and sensing the end of a relationship that I didn't want to let go of. I put the song on the shelf for a while and I guess like some self fulfilling prophecy, a year later the relationship I was in ended abruptly and the song became the first reflection of the experience. Going back to Dublin one night, the experience came full circle and I was able to finish the song from the two perspectives.... the first as some kind of premonition and the second from the point of view of the aftermath. Both experiences in Dublin had been brought together in one song. It's a song about loss, and regret.. of sentiment and all the things we should have done.
Although this song probably sounds like I'm talking about falling from grace as a celebrity - I'm actually not. Well not entirely. It's a song about pedestals and falling off them. Around the time of my last tour I remember being really disappointed in a friend of mine. At the same time I felt like the whole world was judging me. I came to realize how unfair it was of me to expect such perfection from those I loved - that it gave them no where to go but down in my opinion of them. And it made me realize just how much of a con the whole hero thing was. The role of idol.. the fact that we iconize each other as a society. We choose one to be put on a platform to which we all aspire to. But no one tells you the job is designed to disintegrate - that the role of hero is intrinsically designed to self destruct. Having fallen on my own ass publicly with my last record I remember the sting of aspiring to be what other people wanted for me. Feeling their disappointment, I realized when I wrote this song that I was never going to apply for that job again. And at how much more wonderful the view was from the gutter.
My favourite song on the record. It's essentially an unsent letter that became a song. At the end of a relationship I was feeling all of the things you feel when love is denied. I felt abandoned I guess.I wrote a poem where essentially I said 'My Father never loved me. I know it's not true. But that's how you made me feel. You made me feel like my father never loved me'. Now I sent neither the letter or the poem to my lover. I kept them hidden until one day during recording my manager spoke of how revealing and personal my new album was shaping up to be. She explained how proud she was of my bravery, but that she felt there may still be something I had yet to say. Five minutes later Robert and I went into the studio downstairs while the managers were upstairs drinking wine, and came up with this song.It's so immediate and so raw. The first time I sang it is what you hear on the record. It almost made me cry and you can pick up on that I think. One of my favourite lyrics ever are the first few lines. Because... denial , anger , bargaining and depression are the first four stages of grief. Acceptance being the final one. And in this song I guess I experience all five of them. I'm glad I never sent the letter but I'm happy the experience gave me this song. What I learned from this is that the anger and emptiness that I felt as a child and in relating to my parents was something I had been carrying with me into my relationships.This song was the moment I realized that had to change for good.
I FORGIVE YOU
One of a few songs I wrote and produced with Marius De Vries. I was such a huge fan of his work in the past with Bjork and Madonna's Ray of Light record. But years ago when we first met I found him terrifying! He represented the potential for massive change in musical direction and although that excited me - four years ago I wasn't ready. Years later I approached him to work with me on this album and this song was the first thing we wrote together. It represents the real book end of everything I had to say from this whole experience of being completely honest on an album, from an autobiographical point of view. I had gone from accusation to taking responsibility to finally letting go. This song was possibly the most traditional structure on the record and Spike really messed with it in production to make it fit more with where the rest of the record was heading. I love the effects on the vocals and how messed up the guitar became. It almost sounds like white noise but I swear it's a fender.
This song was so immediate. I wrote it on piano and initially it was a simple piano ballad. Robert and I pulled the tool box of sounds out and replaced piano with distorted guitar and drum sounds from hell and the result is what you hear today. I was learning the lyrics as I sang it.... hence the fact that the chorus lyrics change each time I sing it. It was meant to be the demo but became the final vocal just because of how earnest the delivery was. The album originally opened up with this song in early sequences but we found it disturbed too many people so we had to move it further down the track list to ease people into the direction change. I love the lyric 'just like a spinal chord severed and broken, but the spark still tries'
I have always been fascinated with the simplicity of John Lennon's love songs to Yoko Ono. In some ways this song is fashioned after that almost haiku like simplicity. None of the sentences are finished in a grammatical sense, but in a musical sense. So there is always a double entendre. Until a verse ends the sentence has one meaning but then gets clarified or becomes more complicated depending as the song carries on. For example, when I say 'you teach me how to love..' that is a complete statement.. until I say 'parts of myself..I hated for so long'..So I'm using the song as a metaphor for love. And not romantic love. Love for the self, for spirit, for God. It represent to me the first time ever on an album that I don't have this idealistic or unrealistic view of romantic love as this thing that is going to complete me or save me. This song demonstrates a desire to understand that real love comes from within. From a production point of view, this one is all about minimalism. We were definitely inspired by Matmos - the microbeat extraordinares from San Francisco.
LOVE AND ATTRACTION
What can I say about this song? Electro inspired. All about having to laugh at the stupidity of courtship and how everyone I ever want is unavailable and how everyone who really wants me isn't even on my radar. Cupid's cruel joke on us all.
The one true reference to the ego of a pop-star, killed off and laid out for all to see. Tying in with the song Hero, this revisits, in a more freudian sense, the concept of falling from grace and how the ego thrashes to survive.From a spiritual point of view, I understand how this little monster can unnecessarily complicate your life, and yet realistically it's like a petulant child you love to hate and hate to love.Ego. And letting go of it. Or perhaps just admitting that I have no desire to do so.
SENSE OF HUMOR
I quite like songs of self deprecation. This song is, I guess, about longing to be understood when you feel misunderstood. When you glance at someone from across a room and you feel dismissed. That moment of fantasy when you play out the conversation that could have been... when you imagine them laughing at all your jokes and really 'getting you'..It's really quite a dark and brooding moment. I guess the precipice from which became the starting point for this album. The freefall from grace and all that taught me about myself began with this one self deprecating moment.
INTERNATIONAL BONUS TRACK
Once again, working with Marius De Vries, here I am for the first time abandoning song structure and just free associating. This was just a tiny piece of music that I heard Marius play.. and it reminded me of a conveyor belt of life. I imagined a tiny robot boy being built and the machines and computers telling him all the things I was told as a child. All the good and all the bad. All the cliches of what masculinity is supposed to be. The fascinating thing about this track to me is that there are three simultaneous dialogues going on and I recorded each one just once. When it played back the first time it was so crazy because we didn't know what we'd have. I love this piece.. I can't even call it a song.. it's incredibly courageous and a stroke of genius from Marius. It's disturbing and yet beautiful at the same time.
12 Sep 2006
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