Behind the Track

Behind the Track: Emily Spirit

20th August 2019

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Was there anything that inspired you when writing ‘Faith’?

I like to organise situations, good and bad, almost as stories in my mind. It means I can accept things I have been through with a beginning, a middle and an end, even if it’s not current in my life anymore. I wanted to transfer this way of thinking into a song.

It’s based on an innately innocent girl, who is losing herself. I thought I’d use a metaphor of whoever is trying to help her as a preacher and incorporate the theme of faith into it as it is a controversial subject.

How did you approach the songwriting process?

I was singing whilst cooking and I ended up singing the verse melody. With that ingrained in my head, I wrote the first lyric that came to mind:

‘She was such a sour mouthed girl with an awful head fever’.

It stalled there for months. I could never seem to write anything that linked to that line. I was at a standstill. That’s when I knew I had to change my approach. I knew I wanted to write it as a story, so I read lots of books to inspire me.

Luckily, the verses eventually came together. Then, after months of writers block, I was relieved to write the chorus very quickly – in my kitchen, again! I knew that I wanted the chorus to have less vocals, so I found a heavy guitar line and wrote a call and response structure, keeping the melody and the lyrics simple.

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

“Torn between suppression and a growth of her dark state, she trod lightly on each path but wished for an escape.”

I like this lyric because it expresses how, when you feel your mind slipping away into a different direction, you don’t want to completely let go, but you also don’t want to feel suppressed. It’s a difficult balance.

Can you describe your sound in three words?

Vulnerable, piercing and rich.

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

At the beginning, I was completely out of my depth in how I wanted to sound. Only as my focus and drive improved, coupled with some lecturers guiding me, did I actually begin to discover my sound.

Though I had written many instrumental pieces on guitar and piano, I had only written a few lyric-based songs before I came to BIMM. So, I was very confused whilst attempting to combine my two loves in music – Classical/Spanish/Hungarian guitar and Alternative Rock.

I was desperate to write songs that made me feel the way I did when I listened to PJ Harvey, Muse and Radiohead. However, I didn’t have the knowledge or ability to guide myself in the right direction. Only having learnt through lecturers, YouTube videos and books did I get to the place of confidence.

Now, I have written many songs (mainly rock) and been able to play and write with guitar pedals, finally! I’ve let go with my vocals too – adapting them so I have the right balance of soft tones, grit and power throughout a song, depending on what the vibe is.

Do you have a stand out moment from your time at BIMM?

That would be getting to arrange ‘Faith’ in a live performance workshop in first year. I was desperate to go down the Rock route but I didn’t know if anyone would take me seriously. However, my lecturers actually suggested arranging it in a Progressive Rock genre. I was so happy!

It came together so well and I was able to implement all these ideas I’d had for ages. I really enjoyed playing it backed with other instruments, as it gave me the confidence to belt the chorus instead of go into my head voice. By the end of the session, I was able to finally reach the note with power.

After this session, I had so much drive. I went home and began writing up everything I knew that could help my songwriting on sticky notes and sticking them up on my wall – things from all my lecturers, YouTube videos and psychology tips that could keep me motivated.

It was without a doubt my favourite day at BIMM.

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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.