Oh boy, I don’t even know where to start with this one…
Some background is in order. Miss Amanda Layne Tilles and I first met in 5th grade- her class was across the hall from mine and we were in some local musical theater productions together. (Actually Amanda- if you ever want to hear a funny story from back then that kinda involves you that I’ve never told you, ask me sometime, but be prepared for awkward hilarity)
I think she was in my 6th grade class too and blah blah blah but that doesn’t matter. Let’s just fast forward to junior year, we were in the same English class of 12 people (including our teacher) and became closer friends. Later, when I started this project, she was one of the people that came up when I first sat down and said, “Who should I do these Photogenesis pieces about?”.
The photograph itself is taken from a really awesome night out in Downtown Disney with 20-some of my best friends. I guess that’s relevant somehow.
Besides “Bros”, this is the only photograph on Photogenesis that I actually show up in, so when brainstorming for the track I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put some of “myself” in there somehow, instead of the track just being about her.
Now, I should say right off the bat that I initially brainstormed a lot of really oddball, terrible ideas, the most embarrassing of which being a drone that modulated in pitch every 10+ seconds, secretly spelling out the melody to Hava Nagila as a little easter egg (Amanda’s jewish. And has there ever been a more ironic use of the term “easter egg”?) I also thought it might be a complex, atonal piece at first.
But one idea stuck with me the most, and thank god, it ended up being the basis for the track. Amanda sits next to me in English class, and has a habit of putting her feet up on the side of my desk. Every once in a while, she accidentally kicks me or our feet collide or some other insignificant moment of brief physical contact. That was my idea on how to “bring myself into the piece” somehow- represent those little moments where we accidentally make contact. So what I jotted down on my post-it note was “big, dense major chord hits from lots of metal, let decay, reverse for a big ‘slurp’ hit”. Imagine it as if the buildup and crescendo of each chord is her foot edging towards me, and the “attack” or peak of the chord is the point where she actually kicks me or whatever.
I later refined that idea to be a more interesting chord progression, but the same idea of using metallic percussion and then reversing it. I came up with a chord progression during jazz band rehearsal one day, and proceeded to record it on vibraphone, glockenspiel, and crotales. That night, I chopped up the recordings and quantized and reversed everything. Then for kicks, I added a little hip-hop bass drum pattern underneath it. I loved the way it sounded, so I built in some more hip-hop percussion, and decided it sounded so cool that I ought to release it as a “Preview Snippet”.
Fast-forward a few weeks, and I’m wrapping up all the recording/arranging for Photogenesis and finalizing the Kickstarter project as well. At that point it’s like, “Yeah, time to get this finished and into a final product!” I needed to make it a coherent track, give it some variation, and a place on the album. So I got the idea to use iMasic again to generate a drone from Amanda’s picture, then find a way to modulate it in order to make harmonic sense if I transitioned to it from the iMasic drone on Evan & Avery.
…and THAT, is how you’re gonna hear this tune on the album.
Stay tuned for more “The Story Behind” posts!