Thursday, 8 August 2013

#21. Dannii Come On (Xmas #4)

Matt Neal: guitar, vocals, bass, programming.

Lyrics & music by Matt Neal.
Written December 22, 2011.
Recorded at the Hai Bin, Warrnambool, December 22, 2011.
Produced by Matt Neal.
Mixed by Brendan Hoffmann and Matt Neal.

By some weird alphabetical coincidence, here’s another of the Xmas songs I wrote for my fiancĂ©e Dannii, this one being the fourth of five so far (you can hear #5 here).

As you can see by the dates of writing and recording, it may have been a bit of a last-minute rush job. But I think this one came out all right, shonky falsetto backing vocals aside. The music came to me at 1am on December 22 and I hastily recorded it into my phone, complete with some variation on the “Hey, Dannii come on!” chorus. I woke up the next morning, went to work, then raced to The 80 Aces’ rehearsal space to record it.

Our rehearsal space happens to be an old Chinese restaurant and for a short while there was an old computer in there which I turned into an ad hoc recording studio. Recording there meant I actually had access to a bass guitar and a bass amp for once, which meant I didn't have to fake it by using an octave pedal/effect or bass samples.

Me and The 80 Aces drummer Jarrod Hawker in the Hai Bin 
between takes for the I Am Trying To Read Your Mind film clip.

Unlike Dancing In The Station, which was a song I happened to write and give to Dannii, this one was written expressly with the purpose of giving it to her for an Xmas present. This is where the challenge begins.

When I write these Xmas presents, I’m trying to tap into songs that Dannii likes, and then create something similar that isn’t a blatant rip-off. So I take note throughout the year of what music Dannii is digging, file that away, blend it with bands I know she likes, and then mould all those influences into a new song, just for her.

So this features a riff like the one in Mutemath’s Blood Pressure (the one at 0:08)…

…and blend it sonically with the one in Muse’s Supermassive Black Hole, layering it in different octaves to get a similar effect (0:15)…

…with a bassline that tips its cap to Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks

…but with a bit of a White Stripes groove that sits somewhere near Hardest Button To Button

…and sticks in a chorus similar to Kaiser Chief’s Ruby (admittedly a little too similar).

Those are all really cool film clips by the way.

Everything fit together neatly and nicely and the "middle eight" was mostly made up on the spot when I was putting down the bassline, and within about three or four hours the song was done. I should have spent more time on the vocals – originally I was going for a loose, school group singalong vibe, but I probably should have aimed higher. I guess they do the job.

Lyrically, it’s all a bit of in-joke, as befitting a song meant for one person to hear. Dannii loves to pull off amazing surprises, like the time she organised a trip to Vanuatu for us without me knowing (but that’s a story for another blog), but she hates to be surprised herself. She likes to know where we’re going and what we’re doing and what she’s getting for Xmas etc…. This makes it very hard to be spontaneous, because she has to know what’s going on.

So I usually goad her, telling her we’re going on an adventure and saying “Dannii… Dannii… come on, Dannii… come on” repeatedly in an increasingly stupid voice until she relents. She does it to me too, so it’s our little joke. Admittedly, they’re not some of my best lyrics, but they're perfect for what I was aiming to do.

Next week’s blog won’t be a Xmas song, I promise.


Do you like adventures?
I don’t think you do.
Do you like surprises?
Only if they don’t happen to you.
I want to excite you.
I want to intrigue.
I want to surprise you.
Come and have adventures with me.

Hey, Dannii, come on,
Dannii, Dannii, Dannii,
Dannii, come on.

I want to show you something
and now is the time.
It’s the spur of the moment
so let’s go for a ride.

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