Song Dissection #8: Girl On The Floor

Ayria - Girl On The Floor Booklet Picture From Hearts For Bullets

Ayria - Girl On The Floor Booklet Picture From Hearts For Bullets

Can’t You See I’ve Lost The Motivation?

After quite a long hiatus, it seems fitting to me that I would want to continue with the song dissections this month with a very important song to me lyrically and containing one of the most important lyrics I feel I’ve ever written.  One year ago this fall I had the opportunity to do some European touring that would essentially take me away from home from October  to early January. To do this touring, I had to make the decision to give up the securities of my “real job”. I told myself it would be ok, and in order to focus on music, one sometimes has to make sacrifices.   So much has happened to me in the past year personally and professionally.  I’m quite proud of myself that I had the courage last fall to go for something that was so important to me.  I would recommend taking a risk to anyone.  You might fall down a few times along the way but that’s what makes life exhilarating, and the head rush when you stand up again is worth it all!  (There’s your motivational speech of the day!)

Girl on the Floor, is the ending track on the Hearts For Bullets CD and it took about 2 years to finish writing as I was never quite satisfied with the melodies and structure I had started with, but not wanting to abandon the song, I kept coming back to it and put it through several incarnations until I was happy with it. It was always had upbeat poppy styled music, but the lyrics went through many re-writes.   The end result is a deeply personal song about me, not really wanting to continue with Ayria or music at all believe it or not.  I keep mentioning this, but after my father passed away, I wasn’t able to write music for several months.  I went numb, tried to hold on to stability in my life any way I could and didn’t really think about Ayria. Long time friends and fans might remember this, but back in 2007, the week I was supposed to leave on tour for a U.S. leg with Combichrist with 3 starting shows in Florida, my dad passed away and I had to cancel the first 3 shows.  The only other time I’ve canceled a show was when we were snowed in at an airport in Russia and missed one of the 3 Russian tour dates..  that’s another awful story!  Anyway, I did join the tour the following week through the Southern States to L.A. but all I remember was being really numb.  I remember being in my bunk on the bus not thinking, not feeling, just playing shows and being social to distract myself.  Later that fall, I stopped writing songs, I dyed my hair back to it’s natural brown (GASP! I’m not a natural blonde!?) I focused on my day job & distanced myself from anything Ayria or music related.  It may seem strange that I’m sharing all of this with you now, I’m not the dramatic type.   I prefer to face and conquer my struggles internally. I’m opening up here, because it’s been 3 years, and I know some of you appreciate these song dissections, and my complete honesty, and knowing the dark corners where songs come from. To summarize it as best I can, Girl on the floor is a bit about my struggles with grief, but more so: My loss of appetite for what I was passionate about, thinking about giving up on music, feeling guilty about my life choices, my feelings of lack of self control over my life, feeling guilty about not giving enough to those around me & relationships that were important to me, and maybe guilt over apathy & selfishness.  There.

LYRIC DISSECTION:

So this dissection is more about the story and the lyrics rather than the music production, because that’s what I want to talk about, just some of the lyrics that stand out to me personally:

“Mirror Mirror on the wall, I’m just a girl with no self-control”

It was true, and sometimes I still feel like I have no self-control in certain situations.  Some days I eat too much, I drink too much, I make bad decisions and when I wrote that lyric I felt like a broken girl facing my inner demons.  Occasionally, I get caught up in things people have said or written about me online that isn’t very positive or constructive. I’d like to believe my skin is thick, and it really has become thicker with time, but occasionally something will get under my skin.   The lyric “you don’t know the real me but you get a glimpse so you paint a picture.  So vivid, but just so wrong” addresses that, as everyone can relate to being misjudged or feeling that no one knows the real them.

“I just want to leave the situation
I don’t want to reach this destination
Can’t you see I’ve lost the motivation”

I still get weird chills singing the chorus of this song live, as it represents the desperate part of me that lost the drive to do what I once loved.

“You ask what I want, it’s complicated, the truth is I don’t know.”

I think that’s fairly straightforward. Pretending things are so complicated, and maybe they are, but in my case, saying that things are complicated helps to hide the truth that I just don’t know the answers or that I felt lost.

“It’s not enough to be there sometimes”: I felt like I was giving myself to some areas of my life, and some people but not fully.  I felt stretched pretty thin, and wasn’t able to give any one thing, the best of me. It’s also based in a bit of regret of not spending enough time with my dad I guess.

“I’m too tired to fake the strength behind this lie.”

When it came to doing music and Ayria, I felt like I couldn’t even fake it even, which is why I left it alone and didn’t try and write. Sometimes when you’re going through tough times, it’s not always the best idea to dive into what you love.  In my specific case, giving myself distance was the best thing so I could continue doing it and appreciate it more.

The bridge of this song was the most powerful part of this song for me musically and lyrically. It really gave it an epic feeling.  Seb’s (Komor – my producer for any new readers of this blog) addition of piano chords in the production of this song, was totally awe-inspiring.  My demo version DID have a break down but had simpler synth strings, I felt the piano layers he added a delicateness and sadness to a fairly upbeat song and helped my favourite lyrical part stand out:

“And now I sit here all alone and bored
My head is filled with, advice I once ignored”:

The clichéd saying that all you’ve ever needed has been right here in front of you.  Well, this was my take on that realization of being so wrapped up in your self, your guilt, your insecurities, or only looking to the future, that you ignored all the advice that you should have taken.

Bringing me to my favourite lyrics EVER:

“All you get from this moment, is all you gave to your past
and all you’ll get from this moment, is what you gave to your past”

Simple.  But it’s my favourite.  Is what I’m doing now, affecting what I will be in the future? Have I even cared enough or has it all just slipped by? I hope it made others think about what they are giving to their now and how it will affect them in the future. There’s so much backstabbing, pettiness, bitching, self-pity, whining and complaining out there.  If that’s your contribution to your now.. then I’m wondering what you feel you’re so deserving of? What have you done in your life, or worked hard at that brings you to this moment and what you’ll get out of it, because previous inputs = currently outputs.  I’m over explaining it but but it made me think about my own life and actions. This lyric just continually sticks with me.

“I’m turning to the next one, we laugh for a moment.
I’m crying on the bathroom floor because nothing is the same”

This is absolute truth.  One day I did end up just crying on the bathroom floor feeling that my life was out of control, and that I was losing grip on the things and especially some of the people in my life that were really important that I hadn’t realized I had taken for granted.  That was a turning point for me to pick myself back up off the floor and change some things and start moving on.

I’m of course in a better place now, my passion and motivation obviously returned and keeps me going.  These emotions I write about were the extreme ones that covered about a year’s worth of experiences! Songs are my outlets,  and I know we all go through these periods of our lives so I’ve always known this song was relatable to alot of you. It’s strange but I think a bigger fear for me is that one day I WON’T feel these extreme emotions from time to time.  These crazy intense overwhelming emotions that force me to face myself and think about my life, then what would I write about? Heh. So, this was a pretty emotional dissection.  But this is a pretty emotional song about things that are important to me. I didn’t touch much on the music and programming,  but only because I felt this song was so important to me lyrically. I’ll try and do more music talk on future dissections.  This is actually the song I get the most comments from fans saying it helped them through a tough time (next to “Invisible” from HFB & “Lovely Day” from the Flicker CD) & that means more than anything for me to hear.

Weird Tidbits about the song structure:

- If you’ve listened to this song, you’ll notice the first and second verses start with the same lyrical idea:  “Mirror Mirror on the wall..” but that the melodies and the rhythm of the vocals are completely different in each verse?  It’s kind of a mistake, I couldn’t decide between how the first verse flowed and the second.  When it came time to finish the song, I couldn’t decide so I left the verses different, hoping the lyrical link of the first line would make it ok.
- The song is often confusing to members of my family since it’s so boppy and pop like sounding, but the lyrics are so sad. I think it’s funny that they can’t understand it.  I say to them “it’s what I do!  I like upbeat dance music, but I can’t help but write about sad themes!!” ;P

BLOOPER REEL:

Despite the serious nature and theme of this song to me personally, for some reason I had the giggles, while recording this song. I blame it on the fact that I hadn’t practiced the song enough before recording (you’ll hear I mess up the chorus a lot which is now second nature to me!) This song’s been surrounded by deliriousness… even one of the many working versions sent back and forth between Seb and I during production, one version he had titled “Girl On the Floor looking for her slurpie but can’t find the vodka” So here’s a blooper take of me recording the chorus layer for the song. I can’t believe I’m sharing this with you since I sound TERRIBLE (This is clearly not the final takes used! ;)  You can hear Joe Byer of v01d in the background, whose studio I used to record vocals for this CD (before I got my own studio set up).

WARNING: Blooper Take has excessive use of the F-bomb by Jenn  (sorry! You guys know I can be a potty mouth!)

 

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how all that emotion & subsequent silliness came out after final production, here’s a clip of the bridge into the chorus:

 

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Knowing my current musical journey, If you’ve enjoyed reading this dissection and enjoy this song, or want to hear it in it’s entirety, please consider supporting me directly by purchasing the full CD from my web shop (I’ll sign it to you!) or just the song from iTunes.   In case you didn’t know, I also launched a new line of awesome merchandise with Toronto’s own clothing designers: Plastik Wrap this past summer such as Ayria ties, garter pockets, gloves, plus new T-shirts, etc.  And please buy your Christmas presents soon too so I can send you your Christmas Present!! ☺

New music is on its way! Only a few more songs to record for my upcoming CD out sometime in 2011 and I can’t wait to share it with you! ;)
Much Love
<3
Jenn

My Question To You: Have you ever lost the motivation to pursue what you love?  How did you get back on track and find yourself and find motivation again?  I’m just curious about others experiences.

Previous Song Dissections:
1000 Transmissions
Bad List
Invisible
Analog Trash
Suck It Up
Insect Calm
Blue Alice

Song Dissection: Bad List

BAD LIST
From the CD: Hearts For Bullets
Music programming, lyrics & vocals: Jennifer Parkin
Production, mixing, mastering: Sebastian Komor

Lyrics:

Somehow it feels I’m getting more frustrated
With every tongue tied, wild eyed, overrated
Narcissistic self absorbed spawn of a generation bored

Want to see you vulnerable
I am not your equal
Ruling with an iron fist
And you are on my bad list
A routine casualty
Razor sharp beauty queens
Bridges built are bridges burned
You will get what you deserve.

And now I think I’m done caring
Too many mindless self obsessed overbearing
Misogynistic, plastic hearts. Can’t wait to see you torn apart.

What did they do?
Made you so awful
Why do you say?
The stupid things you do
The ones you’ve hurt
I hope they hurt you too
The things you’ve done
Will eat away at you

You’ve made this list
You won’t be missed
You’ll have to learn
Some things you don’t deserve

The Dissection:

I was actually surprised when I went back through all of the working files for this song to realize that it took exactly one year from it’s beginning to it’s glorious finish.  That may seem like a long time to finish one track that comes in at just under 4 minutes but during this period,  I was working full time, trying to work on music in the evenings and any spared moment I could find, and also went on 3 different tours that took me to faraway places such as the U.S.A. and Europe!  When working on music, I tend to work on lots of songs simultaneously meaning the full “Hearts For Bullets” was all being worked on in various stages, all taking about 2 years to complete every detail.  I use a draft approach where songs will go through various lyrics and structure tweaks until I’m happy with them. I can’t create a song in one day.  I need to step back, sleep on things, listen again, re-work and re-peat the cycle.

“Bad List” is one of my favourite songs from this CD and that’s why it’s placed as track #1 on “Hearts For Bullets”. There is a science to ordering songs on a CD. I guess this concept has become less important in this digital age as listeners don’t often hear a full CD in order anymore.  Hearing single songs is more the norm now, which is fine, but I miss the days when you’d put a CD in and listen to it start to finish, anticipating each track.   So, back to the science of old-school track ordering:  track #1 should be a strong and immediate song that will instantly grab the listener and draw them in.  I personally felt that this was THE one.  Musically, It blends so many elements that I personally love including a strong gritty bass synth line, a big beat, loud crunchy snares and vocals somewhere between chanty but slick enough that you can hear them. I know it’s not one of my more complex songs lyrically, it’s fuelled by anger, frustration and a bit of good old fashioned passive aggressiveness but I thought the very straightforward lyrical approach was effective for this song to make it catchy.

Who is on your Bad List?

We all have a Bad  List. Don’t’ lie I know you do! It’s a list of those jerks that have done you, or the world around you wrong.  It’s those individuals that, if you could, you’d just like to smack and say “what’s wrong with you?”, or better yet, you’d love to sit back and watch their world come crashing down around them in a big mess and it would be totally what they deserve.  Now, if you’ve met me personally, this all sounds very shocking coming from sweet little me!  I’m not a mean or spiteful person, I swear! But I do like to express my darker self through music occasionally and  this song simply allowed me to vent some frustrations using a simple concept of having a “Bad List” but to avoid getting myself into trouble, I’m not going to print names… ;)

Lyrics & Words (plus a bit of venting..):

“Generation Bored”:  This was the original working title for this song which is from a lyric in the song “You’re all spawn of a Generation Bored”.  This became my term for those negative individuals (usually hanging out online) participating in circular arguments, ripping each other apart, being rude and mean to each other,  doing nothing seemingly positive or good with their time, etc.  It occurred to me how bored our generation must be for this to be a regular acceptable way of life.  The other title I now give this this song is “sound-check song!”  It’s the song I always check levels with on tour because of the dynamics.  I also have great tour memories associated with band members of The Cruxshadows singing along to this song , making up dances and even doing a surprise guest appearance with me on stage in Hannover and Hamburg, Germany in December, 2009.

“Misogynistic, self absorbed”: One of my pet peeves is to hear a comment like: “I hate female vocals in electronic/industrial/<insert hip genre classification of the moment here> music!” These people are on my bad list.  It’s unclear what they hate exactly, is it ethereal vocals, gothy, rock style, contemporary  pop styled, distorted or effected until it sounds like a man, cookie monster or killer alien robot from another planet? Or do they hate that it’s a woman singing at all?  It’s a big category to hate, it’s sexist and it bugs me.  Anywyas, to focus on the positive: the musicians, artists, awesome people I’ve worked with and met over the years have been such creative, talented, passionate, and open minded people. I respect them not because they are men, or women, that shouldn’t matter. They are on my “Awesome List” which is longer than my “Bad List” ;)

The rest of the lyrics, I think are pretty self explanatory but if you have questions about the meaning or motivation behind a specific lyric, please just comment here and I’ll reply to you!

Creative Process:

I want to share how do my lyrical brainstorming.  For every CD I work on, I buy a pretty little notebook (or two) that I use to jot my thoughts, ideas and eventually attempt structuring my final lyrics for a song. Yes, I’m old fashioned and I find actually writing with a pen and paper helps me stay outside of the lines!  I found some ramblings that eventually became some of the lyrics to “Bad List”. I know it’s hard to read. My hand writing is terrible at best but I thought it was kind of neat to share this part of the process that never gets to see the light of day and (big surprise) there’s even stars in my brainstorming. So predictable.

My Beautiful Mess of rough lyrics

My Beautiful Mess of rough lyrics

My Beautiful Mess of Words Part 2

My Beautiful Mess of Words Part 2

Production:

The produced song used some of the the origianal synths and demo elements, but Seb of course used his studio magic to make things sound bigger and better.  Here are clips of  the two main incarnations of the demos along with a clip of the finished produced version:

This was my very first demo file of this song.  It captured the main loop of the gritty synth that the rest of the song was based on:

 

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This version was a bit more flushed out.  I got my good friend and keyboardist Joe Byer from the band v01d to help me add some sweet moog synth and other sounds. The vibe was a bit more electro-y.

 

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I wanted the song to be somewhere between the above 2.  Here’s the final produced version that captured the perfect blend of stompy and electro.  You can hear the chorus in here too. Seb worked on creating a layer of synth sounds for the chorus that would lift  it up a notch and make it stand apart from the bass synth in the verse that runs through most of the song:

 

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Ending Thought:  “The things you’ve done, will eat away at you”

If you’ve enjoyed reading this, and want to contribute to my 2010 journey and mission, as a musician working towards finishing the new CD, please check out my shop (I personally ship & sign anything you want)

OR you can purchase the mp3 of “Bad List” from iTunes for a mere dollar here:

Next Friday I’ll post another song dissection but I’m not yet sure which song I’ll do.  If you missed the first one, check out “1000 Transmissions” from last week!

So, what type of people or behaviours make your Bad List?

Jennifer