Today we have another great addition in the Deeper into Music series. Louise Burns, a fantastic singer from Vancouver that’s been playing music professionally for almost half her life (as a part of Lillix and The Blue Violets), is about to release her debut solo LP, Mellow Drama on Light Organ records.
Chock-o-block full of 50′s/60′s girl group hooks and steeped in vintage sepia tones, the songs grab you on first listen but Burns decision to add muscle, psychedelics and dark, dreamy textures to the melodies gives Mellow Drama depth and substance. We’ll have a review closer to the April 5th release date, but Louise took the time to give us a song-by-song breakdown and invite us into her world. As you can see, she’s as charming and humorous as she is talented.
Chinook (Sing From the Valley of Doubt)
When I lived in Cranbrook, I use to go on massive trail rides by myself on my horse Chinook: a motherly Morgan Saddlebred cross. Whilst on these adventures, I use to write music in my head and use my cell phone to record by singing into my voicemail. This song is a product of that and the beginning of my quarter life crisis. You know- the whole “I’m 20 what the fuck am I doing blah blah blah” sort of thing. “Sing from the valley of doubt” is quite literally about riding through a valley in the backwoods of Cranbrook BC contemplating self doubt. Super deep, right?
I will never be Johnny Marr, but I can try.
Have you ever gypsy faded from a party? Its the fucking best. Just leave without telling anyone- and no one notices- no awkward goodbyes! That’s what the first verse is about. This second verse is literally about turning a root beer can into a pipe and listening to Fleetwood Mac, one of my favorite pass times. Well, the latter at least. I only use glass pipes now. The line “why do I always feel this way” is pretty dramatic, so I titled the song Teen Angst so I could call myself out on my own preciousness. However, this song does mean quite a lot to me, and captures exactly how I felt in my early 20′s. Also, a breakthrough moment in the studio where I decided to ban the use of high hats on the drums. I may have taken a page from the book of Cass McCombs for instrumentation as well…
What Do You Wanna Do?
Walking at night is my favorite thing to do, and Walking After Midnight by Patsy Cline is one of my favorite songs. I wanted to write a song about feeling heartbroken at night, so combined these two likes of mine and voila! Production-wise, we tried to catch the feeling of a Jay and the Americans or Buddy Holly track. And, like almost every song on the record, I played everything myself purposely because I’m not the greatest guitar player in the world, so no matter what it would sound primal and (can’t believe I’m using this word) “raw”.
Drop Names Not Bombs
I wrote this song after attending a bullshit industry party a few years ago. I remember waiting in an impossibly long line up, getting inside and nearly choking on the self importance in the air. I’m usually unfazed by type of thing, growing up in the music and entertainment business, but something about that night really stuck with me. Times gonna put out the flame. Everyone has an expiration date on their fifteen minutes. I’M NOT BITTER, just observant. As for production, I was listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen’s “The River”, and wanted to give it a vibe similar to Hungry Heart. I added the bells and organ during the mixing of the record; it gave it a nice yellow and orange color. Vitamin C. Background vocals by the wonderful Coral Osborne, singer for The Blue Violets, which I am also in.
My fantasy of being a gold digging trophy wife. How nice would that be to have frequent fancy island vacations! The verse about being filmed while sleeping is true, but not really related to the song. I threw it in their to make sure my lyrics weren’t getting too confessional or earnest. Ha ha. The guitar sound at the end is a tribute to Francoise Hardy’s Je N’attends Plus Personne. 1960′s girl groups always inspire the best kind of backup vocals. The song Remember by the Shangri Las has these great “aaaahs” where the timbre is just so grandiose and luxurious. We can all thank reverb for this. Reverb is my personal jesus.
Solar Sea Chanty. Celestial navigation, but the direction is like, existential instead of locational, you know? I think we were watching Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds The Weeping Song while mixing this guy… Blixa is such a babe! Dave Ogilvie, one of my producers (Kevin James Maher being the other) produced some stuff for Blixa in the 90′s so told me some AMAZING stories about their studio experience. Hanging out with Dave is like watching a documentary of all my favorite music. He knows everything and has worked with everyone from Babes in Toyland to Nine Inch Nails to David Lynch. The coolest guy ever. While I’m in the land of producer shout outs- Kevin James Maher, one of my besties, is also amazin’. A true understanding of creating musical atmosphere. Also, we share mutual love for Paul Rudd.
Believe it or not, this song is heavily influenced by early R.E.M. Mazzy Star too. I know a lot of people of my generation think they were born at the wrong time, but seriously… Sometimes I feel nostalgic for the early 90′s, even though I was barely a human and still listening to my parent’s Vangelis records.
Remember the time you were in a relationship, but then you realized that only YOU were in a relationship, and not your significant other? Cue smallest violin. Or in this case, chorus pedal and big snare. The oldest recording on the record, produced by Ted Gowans, my insanely talented friend and guitar player whom I am lucky to know.
Another attempt at Marr-dom. Simple drums. Hammond Organ. Ukulele playing broken chords at the end. The ukulele is really underrated, it can add such a nice texture; doesn’t always have to be kitschy. Also, another song about walking at night and thinking about life! This bass line is hard to sing to, but I’m happy its there, influenced by my favorite bass players Simon Gallup and Peter Hook.
The Gypsy’s Wife
I saw Leonard Cohen with my mom a few years ago in Vancouver, and this song really stood out to me. He had a flamenco guitarist accompany him; so beautiful. The chord progression KILLS me. I started playing this song live whenever I did acoustic shows around town, and felt it was only natural to put on the record. Cello by Arran Shearing, piano, acoustic and a LOT of reverb. There’s a bizarre “music video” for this on youtube- I don’t think its official. It is my greatest wish to recreate this one day, but with Devendra Banhart starring as the gypsy wife.
Every record needs a ballad, right? I wrote this four or five years ago after a very transitional time in my life. My apartment had a beautiful view of the ocean and I use to just stare out the window for hours… This song is kind of sentimental and personal so I doused it with reverb and random percussion to hopefully add some distance.