Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jasper Song Bio

I decided to write a shadow song for SpinTunes for once! Because I had an idea for a song that fit the challenge perfectly.

It's called Jasper, and it's about a hotel concierge who falls in love with a prize fighter who's on the run from bookies.

You can listen to it here:

It's pretty a typical Felix Frost-style song. It's super noisy, full of whimsy, and has a LOT of counter melodies. Since I'm not competing this round, I decided I would just do the type of song I like to do. I have no patience for simple, quiet songs with one or fewer instruments accompanying the vocals; and inversely I have an obsession with exciting songs full of complexity and colorful sonic goodness. Like Moonjock by Animal Collective! (especially the second half)

That said, Jasper isn't meant to be strange or experimental in any way (unlike Moonjock). I have done that in the past of course, but any arty-ness or experimental sounds you think you hear are just me trying to make my song sound interesting. :P

Anyway, Jasper is from the perspective of an amorous hotel concierge (I wrote it as a gay man who falls madly in love with an uber-masculine boxer but I suppose you could imagine the narrator as anyone you want). Jasper, the prize fighter, is being accused of throwing a fight he was absolutely supposed to win, so he seeks refuge at a fancy hotel where the narrator takes him in, cleans him up and protects him. The narrator thinks Jasper simply lost the fight because he's at the end of a long career (I didn't really decide if Jasper was paid off to throw the fight; it doesn't matter to the narrator). While feeding and pampering Jasper and nursing him back to health, the narrator starts to find the boxer irresistible--regardless of whether or not Jasper feels the same way--or is even gay--OR even remotely cares about the narrator. It's obvious Jasper's just a toolbox meat head after his own interests.

I hope you enjoy the song!

-Felix Frost (Ben)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cat's Eye Song Bio

The song I submitted for the Spintunes songwriting contest is a little different than my past entries. Usually, I write through-composed songs that don't repeat and generally have some experimental/avant garde qualities. Cat's Eye definitely has some strange sounds and some subtle experimentation, but for the most part it's a much more standard song than I usually write.

The challenge was to write a song about someone you miss who you can't be with anymore. As usual, I made up a fictional story. I've only written one non-fiction song for my wife, and although I'm proud of the song, I didn't really enjoy writing something sincere. I'm an aspiring novelist and fiction is all I'm really interested in :)

The song is sung from the point of view of a guy who meets a new age girl at a nutrition store called the "Spirit Vitamin Shop." She's one of those eerie gals with bizarre tattoos and a fake fur scarf. Immediately, the narrator falls in love with her (as narrators often do), but that's before he learns an even stranger detail about her. She has a cat's eye hiding behind her bangs. Like, her eye looks like it belongs on a cat.

You can choose to take that literally, or metaphorically (for the sort of feline cunning that the woman has). But my impulse is to think of it as a literal and supernatural anomaly. The song features a lot of occultism and mysterious magic anyway, as the narrator learns that the girl with the cat's eye dabbles in some dark rituals. This is the reason why he can't be with her anymore, he's afraid of the "hexes" she claims to put on people and the possibly sinister supernatural forces she tries to contact. That's where the line in the bridge comes in, "Can't see her again, can't risk the hitch of witchcraft." He doesn't want to get sucked into whatever she's gotten herself into, despite how much he misses her.

Again, you don't have to take this magic stuff literally. Maybe he just suspects she's an evil person. I wanted it to be open to interpretation, wherein the listener can take the words "hexes" and "witchcraft" more, you know, poetically or whatever and assume the narrator is referring to her as an enchanting temptress who puts men under her spell.

The lyrics can be vague, I know, but my inclination is always to write poetry before lyrics--so the images are skewed and strange to make for interesting sounds and images that might not be initially easy to understand. Namely the line "we touched tips to knuckles" which just means they sat in a tent hand-in-hand, fingertips fitted inside the dips in each other's knuckles. It fit the line rhythmically and I liked the way it sounded so I went with it. :P

I put a lot of work into making the music itself express the mood of missing someone--and writing melodies that suit the overall theme is not something I'm good at. I scrapped a few ideas and started the song over about twice, because I wanted it to sound just right: mournful and dreamy--but I also wanted the chorus to be upbeat and catchy. I'm decently happy with the final result. The instruments ARE a bit quiet and buried in spots because I know how much people like the hear the vocal part over anything else. :)

Anyway, I hope that shed some light on the song. I wouldn't have written a song bio if the lyrics weren't so peculiar in spots. But I don't think it's right to spoon feed the listener and write a straightforward love song where the metaphors are obvious and the stories don't have concrete nouns and specific details. I was taught not to write "I went to the store" but rather "I went to Jimmy's Grocery," and not to write "she was a girl" but rather "she was a girl with mint leaf tattoos." Not EXACTLY those, but you get what I mean. Details make the story come alive, and actually make it MORE relate-able than writing about two blank, colorless characters who could be ANYbody on earth. I don't know, I'm still an amateur :P

Either way, I hope you like the song. Listen here: