PMP Song Dissection #1 – Letter From An Angel

Listen to the full song here:

To start off 2014, I’m bringing back my song dissections for “Plastic Makes Perfect”, which I often abbreviate as PMP. This photo represents the song journal that contained all the musings and lyrical brainstorming for the songs for PMP. I swear I posted about this before, how every album I start on, I get a new shiny journal to begin the writing process, but I can’t find where I posted about this. The second picture is an inspirational phrase that I glued right into the front of my lyric journal to inspire me during the writing process of “Plastic Makes Perfect” from Winter 2010 to Winter 2012.

My Journal - Plastic Makes Perfect

My Journal – Plastic Makes Perfect

Ayria Lyric Journal Inspiration
Ayria Lyric Journal Inspiration

Lyrics: Letter From An Angel

I’m not your perfect angel
I guess you know that by now
I feel more lost than ever
It’s been so dark since you’ve been gone

I never knew the man you were
I thought there’d be more time
And when I hit rock bottom
I went numb to survive
Not sure I turned out how you thought
by now you know my demons
I’d like to think you’re waiting
For me to say I’m sorry

With regrets
I’ve come undone
the fact is we all have demons
I’m staring up at the sky
I’m hoping that you can feel this
I never knew the man you were
I thought there’d be more time

I’m not your perfect angel
Somehow you’ve become mine

I’d like to think you’re right here
I’m scared you’ve drifted too far
I carry on as best I can
Not shining as brightly as before

An Introduction

Here I am again, starting on the next round of song dissections for 2013’s  release “Plastic Makes Perfect” and starting with a familiar theme.  If you’ve been a fan of mine for a while, you’ll know that for my last CD “Hearts For Bullets” I dissected many of the songs. I call them dissections, my definition of dissection is to describe the meaning behind the lyrics, inspiration, the song writing process and production.  Sometimes in interviews, I’m asked “what inspired this latest CD” which I find difficult to answer since the timeframe spanning my writing was about 2 years of my life. To me, each song usually has a different theme,  which is why these dissections help express each track in the detail it deserves. You guys seemed to like hearing more details about the songs, so for that reason, I continue.

I think I was dragging my feet starting these up again. I sometimes have trouble with words.. not in my songs strangely, but expressing them in more detail. So this can be challenging. I wanted to start them this past summer. I even asked you guys to vote on which one you’d like me to do first (thanks to you guys on Facebook!).  It’s sometimes painful to dig up the emotions behind the songs I write. So I ridiculously thought I’d ease into them again starting with the most painful song on this CD (haha), but also, one I think doesn’t need too much explanation. So go easy on me as I open up again.  I need to start by saying that  I had a hard drive completely die on me in November 2012 as we finished the production work for “Plastic Makes Perfect” so, while I had some backups, some of the earlier demo and rough work was in bits and pieces and harder to find to recover.  Luckily, the CD was already finished and stored in multiple places but what this means is, I don’t have as many of the demo files and the raw, and sometimes funny clips to share. Forgive me. Here goes..

The words

Letter From An Angel:  The title of the song came first, before any lyric or music writing was done  but I always knew I was going to write this track specifically as a ballad for this CD. “Hearts For Bullets” lacked ballads and I was determined to return to them again!  This song is a continuation of the grieving process I went through losing my dad in 2007.  If you haven’t read the dissection I did for “1000 Transmissions”, it will explain EVERYTHING. Meaning I don’t have to talk about it again too much here ;)  But basically, that harsher industrial track from HFB, represents the anger phase of grief whereas “Letter From An Angel” is my closure song. Being the Sadness Phase of grief, maybe some acceptance, and finally moving on.  It’s funny to dissect this song first for PMP since “1000 Transmissions” was also the first song I dissected for HFB.  Looking back through my emails, “Letter From An Angel” started it’s production with Seb on October 31st, 2012, it was the last song to go into production for PMP, and fittingly, the closing song of 12 songs on “Plastic Makes Perfect”. I had wanted to place this song earlier in the CD, but when everything was done, nothing sounded right after it. It ended up being the perfect closer.  Also, I think I’m done with needing to write anymore songs about this subject..(for now). I’m think I’m finally ready to move on and have said all I need to.

Letter from an Angel is me writing a letter to my dad, telling him I’m sorry. I was my dad’s little angel. The song starts with the opposite lyrics though:

“I’m not your perfect angel
Somehow you’ve become mine”

After his passing, I put my father on a pedestal, turning him into my angel, I know it’s a projection and an idealism that he could never live up to in real life as he was human with all his faults,  but in my mind, it’s now me, the imperfect one, left here without him to deal with my own demons.

“Not sure I turned out how you thought
by now you know my demons”

When someone dies, people often say things like “your father is watching over you now, and would be so proud of you”.  While meant to be comforting, it actually terrifies me. What if he’s not proud once he can see me for everything I am? What if there are things I don’t want to be known about me, my inner struggles, and without going into any spirituality or discussions about religion, what if, when you die, you DO get the chance to know every truth, every lie, every thing about the loved ones and watch over them. By using this theory, I used the line “By now, you know my demons” but then contradict myself later by saying “I’d like to think you’re right here. I’m scared you’ve drifted too far”  which again, the guardian angel theory, while terrifying that all is revealed about myself causing me to assess everything about me that’s not so perfect, it’s actually more terrifying to think there’s nothing, no one there.

“I’m staring up at the sky
I’m hoping that you can feel this”

In my own grieving, I associate looking to the sky, this wide open unknown space, as Heaven. I do like exploring the themes of spirituality, and life after death (again, so many religions it’s thought that Heaven is above us).  Also, the sky has always represented hope, change, possibilities, and brings a calmness to myself, and I know to many others.  To prove I’m constantly exploring equating the sky with hope, on my first CD “Debris”, the song “Start Again” references looking at the sky as my escape, and my way to learn that I could fly, and start again, despite being afraid to.

“With regrets, I’ve come undone. The fact is we all have demons
I’m staring up at the sky, hoping that you can feel this” 

I think that’s all I really feel the need to describe the meaning of the lyrics.  Once you know what the song is about, many of the lyrics of “Letter From An Angel” are straightforward and relate to my grief, but here’s a clip of verse 2, just my voice, since I didn’t talk too much about it with just the delay effect on it:

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/Verse2-LFAA.mp3[/podcast]

if you guys are curious about anything further that I’ve missed in describing my emotions in this song, just reply/comment and I hope I can explain it more. To those of you who have experienced and suffered through the loss of a loved one, I hope this song can somehow help you get through it.

Ayria Lyric Journal - Letter From An Angel

Ayria Lyric Journal – Letter From An Angel

Ayria Lyric Journal - Letter From An Angel

Ayria Lyric Journal – Letter From An Angel

Here are two very hard to read journal entries since constant use of computer keyboards have deteriorated my perfect cursive writing! :) They are written at different times, which I then combined to become the lyrics of this one song.  I notice I repeat “I’m sorry” a lot. I see now how much I needed forgiveness in this grieving process, and how much regret I was feeling. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tearing up a bit reading these journal entries, and how hard it is to look back like this.  I carry on as best as I can, just not shining as brightly as before.

The music:

I started with a strange percussive pattern, including a backwards snare sound that I thought sounded really neat, and yet sad. Once I added the synth pattern, I ended up creating 2 layers of synth melodies that actually hit totally conflicting tones on the last note.  I was attempting a harmony, but something went wrong and I just left it clashing and abrasive. It made it super creepy, unnatural, and gave me the ability to write the sad lyrics around this sound, painful to the ears.  These clashing notes were removed in the final production for good reason, but with all the main bass notes in tact.  Here’s the snare:

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/snare-demo-lfaa.mp3[/podcast]

While I’ve lost a lot of my production files for many songs due to the great hard disk crash of 2013, I unfortunately can’t share as many of the raw files like I did when dissecting “Hearts For Bullets”, I do recall my working notes to Sebastian Komor (the producer on PMP) for this track though. Notes I send along with the each song on what I feel it needs.  He then always takes it 10 steps further to unimaginable awesomeness. This song possibly had one of the shortest set of note’s I’d ever done (He was probably relieved! As you can tell from reading through this, I get a bit wordy. Hahaha). I recall it saying “This is a ballad about my father’s passing. I needed to get it out for closure. I don’t have much else to say. You’ll hear it, and you’ll get it”. He got it perfectly. He transformed my creepy and sparser ballad demo into an epic wave of sounds reminiscent of the mood of a song I’ve always loved from the 90’s called “Army Of Me” By Bjork. (I know you know it!)  If you’ve listen to “Letter From an Angel” closely, you’ll hear so much attention to the details of the percussion specifically.  There are many distorted layers of percussion and synths going on here to appreciate. Perhaps I appreciate it most since I know where it came from, and where it started. I think I also cried when I heard this completed track not only due to it’s theme that I still find difficult to deal with, but because it meant the CD was finally complete. I promptly went on a week vacation that November, 2012.  I needed to unwind, and to celebrate!

The chorus:

This part of the song was something that transformed the song completely too, and was the challenging swelling of vocal notes “With Regrets I’ve come undone” I haven’t done this type of chorus vocally since “Insect Calm” I think?  Anyways, I struggled with how to go on the second line, how to sing “I’m staring up at the sky” I didn’t know if it should follow the exact same melody of the first “regrets” line, or stay lower to change it up. We went with the latter, changing it up, but in the demo, I’d left in both layers, so in the finished production, you’ll hear the higher vocal layer as backing vocals that I think worked very effectively, almost as an echo from the first line of the chorus.  Here you’ll hear one repetition (with delay effect on it) and the second repetition with 2 natural vocal layers, this is a technique we use a lot for my voice to create a natural chorus effect for thickness:

[podcast]http://www.ayria.com/wp-content/uploads/endchorus-LFAA-2.mp3[/podcast]

Thanks for reading!

I know you can hear the full song here for free, and can steal it from many places, but as the artist behind it, if you enjoy what I do and want to help me to continue doing this, I ask that you please consider purchasing this song from me (for as little as one dollar!!) on Bandcamp, iTunes or a physical CD from my shop with a beautifully designed booklet by the lovely Amelia Arsenic/Destroy X. I will personally sign the CD for you if you buy it from me here.  Please know this helps me fund my tour in Europe this Feb/March (part 2 with Project Pitchfork.. YAY!), my work-in-progress UK tour in June 2014 (Brighton, London and Sheffield are booked so far, details to come), and my own American tour (this is my goal, fingers crossed) this Fall 2014.  I can’t do this without you guys. Music is my passion, and getting out on the road to meet you guys is the icing on top of my delicious vanilla cupcake! ;)

Much love & Happy New Year!
Jennifer