Behind the Track

Behind the Track: Belvoir Hill

3rd May 2019

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What was the inspiration/is there a story behind your track?

The inspiration for the track came from being at uni and not feeling entirely happy or satisfied with both my living situation and the mental state I was in. The living situation wasn’t exactly bad when I was writing the track, everyone’s lucky to have a roof over their head but there was just a very small amount of space to live privately in my room, which left me feeling like I had no real space to properly call my own.

I was incredibly stressed at the time because I had convinced myself I was gonna fail second year and have to re-sit a bunch of stuff. I worry about the future a lot to be honest, whether it’s the near or distant future, but I had never experienced any real kind of anxiety before, so it was all new to me.

I understood that the cause for my stress was predominantly my own fault, but I also understood for the first time how difficult it can be to reach out for help when you’re feeling like that, so I decided to write down my thoughts and make a song out of them instead. It’s such a common situation for students to find themselves in and I still experience these kinds of thoughts and worries but I guess I’ve learned to deal with it a little more now.

How did you approach writing this song?

I started writing the music without the idea of foreign places in mind. I found a chord sequence I liked, wrote it down and saved it on my voice recordings on my phone. Once I’d thought of a few lyric ideas, I found the recording and thought that the sound of the chords just kind of felt right for the lyrics.

I had the chorus for the song in minutes after thinking of a vocal melody, then the rest of the song after that point just kind of flowed out line-by-line into something I was really happy with. But I got stuck with the first verse and how to introduce the song.

I decided to paint the picture of one of my happiest memories and literally just wrote out paragraphs of what I felt at the time and circled words or phrases which I thought summed it up, then after I’d thought of a different chord sequence, I just put the two together.

It took quite a while to craft and the start sounds really different from the rest of the song, but I suppose that works pretty well because the context of the lyrics is so different too. Anthony Kiedis said something like ‘writing a song can be as easy as opening a window and letting a breeze in or as hard as making a sculpture out of stone’, I guess writing ‘Foreign Places’ was a bit of both.

Do you have a favourite line/section of the song?

I think my favourite line in the song is ‘sometimes foreign places can feel like home to me’ right after the first chorus, just because it’s really simple but it kind of encapsulates what the whole song is about, which is that being with a particular person or in a particular place can feel more like home than being at home in the literal sense.

Can you describe your sound in three words?

Soulful indie/pop.

How do you feel your sound has developed from studying at BIMM?

It’s helped me realise that our ‘sound’ can be whatever we want it to be. Honestly, I don’t really listen to much music in the same genre that I write in, but I know it works for me and it’s what I’m good at.

I’ve also learned that categorising my own music is one of the hardest things for me to do, which is why it’s difficult to answer the question ‘what kind of music do you write’, because I write various kinds of music, and learning to write what I want rather than writing to impress people has helped me express myself creatively.

What’s the best thing about studying at BIMM?

Getting the chance to do what you’re passionate about while being surrounded by like-minded people. You get a sense of community when the people you spend 3 years with are all working to a similar goal, especially being in Manchester where there’s such a deep and versatile music scene to be a part of.

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Author

Sarah-Louise Burns

After studying Ba(Hons) Photography, Sarah has worked in Social Media Marketing since 2013 - she's now part of the BIMM Social Media Team, and is photographer for the Who, What, Why series.