Song Dissection: 1000 Transmissions

From the CD: Hearts For Bullets
Music programming, lyrics & vocals: Jennifer Parkin
Production, mixing, mastering: Sebastian Komor
Hearts for Bullets (cover)

This is my first dissection of a song from this release and it happens to be one of the most emotional tracks for me, but I went for it and I’m here bearing my soul about the making of this song to the fans that care, appreciate the music, and wanted to know more :) I don’t go too much into production details here, since that’s better left to Seb, but I do discuss some of the additions, and I do discuss the motivation, lyrics, melodies, some of my favourite parts and share some clips as well as personal memories. I hope you enjoy!

Lyrics:

Just when I think it’s getting better, I relapse back to this place where the scenery has changed and it’s terrifying.  How can I go back, when it’s much too late.

Piece by piece, bit by bit, my heart aches and I feel sick.  There’s things you say, and things you can’t. Things you threw away and things you want back.  The fact that I’ve lost you erases all my sanity.  Seriously, how could anyone carry on like this? I’ll never look at things the same because of you.  I’ll never get that moment back I shared with you.

It only hurts when I remember.  I know you’re trying to make it better.

Bit by bit, my heart breaks. Your voice repeats and I can’t take it anymore.  Don’t compromise, save yourself, I’ll always be here. Don’t say goodbye, I’m not through with you. Don’t compromise. Don’t say goodbye. I’ve tried and tried, my head is full of memories and sleepless nights, an endless cycle. I’ve tried and tried but these thoughts just drag me down.

It only hurts when I remember.  I know you’re trying to make it better.

I can not steer this ship without you.  There’s no light guiding me to shore. I’m just left drowning in these nightmares, where will I go? I don’t know.  Let it go. Can’t let you go.  Let it go.

The Dissection:

I wrote this song about 2 months after my dad passed away in 2007 and it was also one of the last songs I had written for Hearts For Bullets.  Out of all the stages of grief, I had just passed the numb and in-denial phase and was in the full blown anger phase after losing him.  A lot of people  have interpreted this song as an angry break up song, and it’s definitely not, but I hope people can, and have used this song however they need to help them deal with their own situations of loss and anger.  The experience of losing my father was one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with and has forever changed me.  Something I haven’t shared with many people about that time, was that I was at the hospital and held my dad’s hand as he passed away in July of 2007.  I have never been the same since that moment.   My life was hell for several months after that and this song  captures the aftermath of being left behind and left to deal with the confusing emotions of grief and loss.  I need to say, I can listen back to this song now and not be overwhelmed.  I’ve long since passed the anger phase, and when I perform it live, I find it a powerful, energetic piece that is actually a lot of fun to play!  I use the anger behind it still, but it comes from a different place within me. If that makes any sense?

I always give the songs I’m working on, random titles until something better comes up or sometimes the working title sticks.  I went through two working titles for this track.  First, was “The God Particle” after watching a documentary on T.V. about the hypothetical particle to explain the origins of all mass in the Universe, ok,  so I thought that sounded pretty cool.  I later found out a few other bands already had songs titled this.. we all must have been watching the discovery channel that day! But it didn’t connect to the song’s content either so I later changed the title to “Alive In Pieces” which, does describe my own state during that period, and to be honest, I can’t remember why I decided to change it from that, but in the end, I decided on something more relevant to my father “1000 Transmissions” came from the fact that my dad’s main hobby (obsession), was operating short wave radios.  In an attempt to further bond with him when I was 18, I studied to get my license as well… so, yes, I’m a licensed shortwave (HAM) radio operator and yes, I always made nerdy jokes about this! ;)

Having shared the theme of this song with you, I really doubt I have to further analyze all of the lyrics as I think they are pretty obvious but I do want to explain a few parts though:

The Bridge:

“I can not steer this ship without you.  There’s no light guiding me to shore. I’m just left drowning in these nightmares, where will I go? I don’t know.  Let it go. Can’t let you go.  Let it go.”

My father loved boats and fishing and we always had some kind of fishing boat that we’d take camping when I was young, out on the waters of Lakes Huron, Ontario or the up to the Ottawa river where we used to go camping.  I wanted to write a boat analogy in the song.  Musically, the reverse piano in the bridge was all Seb’s idea that came in the production stage, it was completely transfomed in production, and I absolutely LOVED the change, and thought it brought much more sadness and needed softness to it.  My demo was much more chaotic and just percussive. The first clip is my rough demo before production so you can see how it was transformed by production:

A rough Demo of the bridge – 1000 Transmissions (before production):
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Rough_Demo_1000_Transmissions_Bridge.mp3[/podcast]

Bridge – 1000 Transmissions (after final production):
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/blog/1000_transmissions/1000_Transmissions_Bridge.mp3[/podcast]

after the bridge, I personally loved the progression of those notes of the bass synth (while I sing “let it go, I can’t let you go”) since when I wrote it, I felt it captured what I felt when I used to listen to 90’s industrial music.  Again, I can’t speak about all the production details that Seb did, but a few things that stand out to me in this track were the added layers of static noise to the full track which thickened up the song, fit the harsher sound, and complimented the “1000 Transmissions” theme.  I honestly gave Seb this demo a bit incomplete since I had no idea how to finish off this song after those notes in the bridge part! I had just hit a wall completely.  He added about a minute to the ending of that song including the last powerful break that I loved:

1000 Tranmissions – break down into outtro:
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/1000_Transmissions_end_break.mp3[/podcast]

The Chorus:

“It only hurts when I remember.  I know you’re trying to make it better”.  I was, at the time, constantly remembering of course, and the second phrase was directed at the rest of the world and my family who were all trying to help overcome grief as best as they could.  Musically, it’s not my usual style of chorus progression, since it was so simple and short but it summed up everything so perfectly with just a subtle change. It was important to me to mainly keep the driving bass synth and stompy percussion constant until the bridge.

Verse:

“My head is full of memories and sleepless nights, an endless cycle. I’ve tried and tried but these thoughts just drag me down.”  This describes late 2007 where I was having a lot of trouble sleeping, afraid of dreaming.  Musically, I want to point out that I loved and was surprised by the desperation in my voice in the recording during the: “sleepless nights, an endless cycle” part.  It came out accidentally in the demo before final recording (meaning it was pure emotion) and it reminded me of , again early 90’s style of vocals (think Nine Inch Nails even) which is a cool thing.   The distortion effect adds to the desperation and a tiny moment that Seb added that I adored, is right after the first phrase “Bit by bit, my heart breaks” there is a distorted sound that to me, sounds like a demon saying “LIAR!” it struck me and I sometimes mouth that word when I perform it live. Here’s a clip of the verse so you can hear everything for yourself:

1000_Transmissions_Verse 2:
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/1000_Transmissions_Verse2.mp3[/podcast]

I wanted to point out another very very subtle vocal effect in this verse (since I just love vocoding). If you just listened to the clip of the second verse, there is a second layer of vocals present that are vocoded under the more prominent distorted layer. It’s very quiet but it gives it such a nice thickness. I just found this clip going through my old files and I’m posting it is so you can hear what vocoded vocals sound like on their own:

Vocals: An example of vocoding effect used in 1000 Transmissions:
[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/0-Vocoder.mp3[/podcast]

CD Liner Notes:  “This CD is dedicated to my Dad who gave me the gift of music and who I know is still here with me”

dad_fishing

dad_and_me

Yeah, that’s me and my dad, proving I’ve been wearing pink for years! ;)
So, now that I’ve shared this deeply personal part of my world with you,  and knowing that I’m currently a struggling musician working here in Toronto on my new CD (hint, hint), if you haven’t already, please consider purchasing the CD through my website (I will sign it and include a personalized note for you, etc):

OR please purchase the mp3 of “1000 Transmisions” directly from iTunes for a mere dollar through this link:

Thanks for reading! Not sure which track I’ll dissect next week yet…

Jennifer

34 thoughts on “Song Dissection: 1000 Transmissions

  1. Wow, thank you for sharing such an moving and personal memory. I hope I can make the St. Augustine show in June. Thank you again for being you and doing what you do!

  2. The first person’s first word summed it up for me – wow. That was a really beautifully moving dissection to read, the bridge/reverse piano bit is my favourite part of the song aswell. Can’t wait to read the other dissections :)

  3. Ty so much for sharing Jennifer. It’s funny, I’ve been wanting to do something creative to deal with a few personal things for a while now and music keeps coming to mind even though my experience in creating it was left back in middle school some 25 years ago. I was thinking this morning of asking my wife to teach me piano, since I’ve really had no idea of how to begin. Your music has meant a lot to me over the past few years since I first heard you and I’m sure will be a wonderful influence. Thanks again for your post today and for sharing yourself through your music. Lots of love…

  4. It was lovely to hear te ispiration behind that
    It’s one of my fav. tracks
    thank you for sharing
    xx

  5. Thank you very much for sharing this– I hope the new album is goign well… I think it is brave of you to lay yourself out there; but it is awesome and can’t wait for the next one!

  6. I’ve got to be honest, Jennifer. I’ve listened to your music so many times, and never really paid attention to the lyrics, because I enjoyed the music itself so much. You and Sebastion did an incredible job on the production. But seeing everything that was going on in your life, and the lyrics actually written out for my ADD mind to comprehend, I’ve realized you’re an even more amazing lyricist than musician. Luckily you only have to go through that once, but whatever brought out that creativity in you, you have to figure out how to keep doing it, because it works. I really enjoyed talking to you while you were down here in New Orleans, and look forward to you doing it again some day. Good luck!

  7. Oops, that last sentence should read:
    I really enjoyed talking to you while you were down here in New Orleans, and look forward to you touring again some day.

    (you could probably just picture me, breathing heavy, while mistyping that sentence the first time, not my intention. LOL) ;)

  8. …oh my God, this makes so much more sense now. I’m sorry to hear about your dad… that’s very powerful and puts even more meaning into the song than I thought before.

    I never noticed (liar) or the vocoded lyrics in the second verse before… I have even more respect for you as an artist than I ever did before. You are amazing. <3

  9. Wow! just…wow! I loved reading about this song. One of my favourite songs on the album next to Suck It Up and Girl on the Floor! I loved how you could interpret all of this into your music; I’m sure Seb was a great help also ;) This song makes so much more sense to me now. I thought it was just a bad breakup song…but thank you for clarifying things! You have true talent Jennifer, keep it up. Lyricist, vocalist, AND musician. Everything about this track is amazing! Stay strong love <3

    Bryton

  10. Thank you for sharing. I hadn’t actually sat down and read the lyrics for 1000 Transmissions before. Quite an amazing piece of work.

    The discussion was a great read. I especially liked the bits with the different clips and production elements. I always think it’s fun to hear how a song evolves.

    Can’t wait to see you again this summer in Minneapolis and I look forward to the next song dissectionin the meantime.

  11. Thank you very much for this. I’ve always wanted to see artists discuss their songs like this and I think its very cool of you to do so. You and your music are amazing, never stop ♥♫

  12. This was amazing to read. It isn’t very often that someone lets you inside so deeply. I especially enjoyed listening to the vocoding. It was one more way to hear your vocals that I haven’t heard before. (Although, technically, I *have* heard them, even if I didn’t know it!)

    Don’t ever stop Jen! You Rock!!! ^^

  13. Yes, I knew I wanted to discuss that bridge! I should have mentioned the piano is reversed and reverbed (it’s an effect). I just loved how it turned out and I’m glad you appreciated it too! Working on the next dissection as we speak ;)

  14. Much love back! Just go for it if you feel the music in you! I’m living proof you don’t need formal training to write songs ;) But of course, I wish I had done training since it would of course help in what I do. It’s never too late ;)

  15. Thank you so much! I knew it would be tough to open up about that song, but it was important to me to show it’s not just stompy club music that I’m trying to make (even if that’s how it comes accross… and I also love stompy club music personally, so nothing wrong with that either). People get whatever they want or need out of music and art. I never knew if the journey of how it was created would be something people would want to read about, but based on the positive comments I’ve received here so far, I feel it’s been worthwhile and will continue to expose the rest of the songs!

  16. Thanks Bryton! Wow, I’ve never heard “Suck It Up” being someones favourite yet. Guiltily, that’s one of the songs I sometimes forget about, but I still love it of course! ;)

  17. This was a fantastic read, thank you for sharing such a personal story with your fans. These write ups are going to make me appreciate your music even more, thank you for taking the time to do it.

    Favorite songs (no order):

    1. Girl On The Floor
    2. Suck It Up
    3. My Poison
    4. 100 Transmissions
    5. Hearts For Bullets

    Keep up the great work, I’m on the edge of my seat for the new CD!!

  18. Dear Jen,

    First of all, sorry if I am a tad late (As I can forget things very easily if they are not on the very top of my mind, I bet it has to do with my ADHD/Etc.). As the story behind “1000 Transmissions” is very interesting + personal but sad at the same time (As it seems that you were always very close to your dad). As the radio part of the story was cool to hear about. It is cool to see to see your dad with an “Ayria” shirt on. As Seb’s production on “HFB” was masterful, as it is my favorite “Ayria” album of the three so far. As I am very excited for the new album and for you too of course. A

  19. Dear Jen,

    Sorry if I am a tad late (As I am sure that it has to do with my ADHD/Etc.), as I can easily forget things if they aren’t on top of my mind. Thanks for messaging me again about this post and taking the time to reach out to me again (As I can’t wait for my “Hearts For Bullets” hoodie and “Ayria” rubber band (Again). As the story for “1000 Transmissions” is very interesting though very sad and personal at the same time (As it seems that you were always very close to your dad). As it is awesome to see your dad had an ‘Ayria hoodie on in the photo with that big fish. As “HFB” is my favorite “Ayria” album yet, as Seb production is masterful (As I don’t believe that there is a bad track off it). Also as the radio story was very interesting to hear about. As it was awesome meeting you twice in Philly in July and walking to the venue with you from the store (As thanks for taking your time meeting with me, as I hope that I didn’t that too much that night). As I can’t wait for the new album and I hope to see you in Philly in June with PP though it may be hard since it is a weekday/and my Mom works now again (As I will be seeing her again from Maryland to PA on Thursday to go see three concerts from Friday to Sunday).

    Regards (It’s Been Fun To Know Your Music),

    Jeff Duerr

  20. Jen,
    Thank you so very much for opening up and explaining the [fantastic] song, both emotionally and technically. How well you always balance both! Your closeness to your father truly touches me (I miss mine very much, too), and I often think of how proud of you he must be. He raised a talented, wonderful (and pink) daughter! I love your great stompy darkwavey sounds, but I always feel touched by your lyrics – now all the more so in this song. Thank you so much.
    - John

  21. I was actually wondering about this song. I’ve had a loss of my own and i found myself connecting to this song in particular. Thank you for sharing your personal life with us :) I think some people forget that musicians have a life just like we do and it makes us who we are and helps us with what we do. I’ve been thinking of getting the bridge lyrics tattooed on my arm going down in a spiral for the last few weeks, since they were so powerful to me. I feel like this song has just become so much more powerful after reading this.. thank you so much for sharing!

  22. Mandi – I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s a tough thing to go through. Your comment moved me and if you get that tattoo, I want to see pictures!! ;)

  23. Jen,
    I was in tears while reading most of this. I lost my dad 21 yrs ago (when I was 14) & it still hurts. I can relate to your pain. I don’t know how your dad died (mine committed suicide) but it sounds like u lost him way too early. I assume he had some kind of illness since u said u were in the hospital by his side when he died. I appreciate u sharing this with all of us. I feel closer to you & your music now than I did before. I can’t wait to see u again! Take care!

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  26. I’ve read through a lot of this before, but just reading about this song again has really touched me. My father passed away last July 2010 to cancer and it was very hard time to get through. I really love the lyrics, it’s a great song to relate to.
    “I’ll never look at things the same because of you. I’ll never get that moment back I shared with you.” – My favourite lyrics in the song. <3

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