01. The First Move
I wrote this a few days after meeting a girl.
It was during the early days of living in London, and my life felt more carefree than it ever had. It's somewhere between a love song and a parody of hyper-masculinity.
There is a lot of pretending and performance when it comes to romance. I think it's safe to say that we're usually all nervous wrecks at the beginning.
Okay fine, I'll just speak for myself. Don't look at me like that.
This was me working out if I wanted to stay or leave. It's a bittersweet song that expresses gratitude for the friends and experiences gained on my travels (even the ability to travel itself), while also acknowledging the difficultly and growth that occurs when you leave your home country.
The idea of home is something that I often think about. I've moved around a lot throughout my life, which can feel both freeing and unsettling at the same time.
03. I Think We Should Date
The original plan was to use this to ask a girl out. It was going to be like something from a teen movie. Sparks would fly, lives would be changed forever, a glorious and fail-proof move.
When the time came to actually do it though, obviously I chickened out.
Carpe diem, baby!
06. Knowing Love
Knowing Love helped me through one of the more difficult breakups I've had. It reflects on lessons learned through the growth that often follows pain.
More broadly it's about the connections we have with people throughout our lives, and how there is always something to be given and received.
07. Made of Light
We often want more than we have, and to be more than we are. Made of Light expresses a spiritual belief that we are already complete, and we already possess the strength and love we've been searching for - usually through external things.
When we no longer believe we aren't enough, we open ourselves up to life in the most beautiful and freeing way.
09. Come Back To Me (Bonus Track)
I've called this a bonus track because it's very raw and unprocessed. We recorded it at the end of a day, and you can hear my voice and guitar struggle through the take. I thought it was a nice ending to the album, and quite a stark comparison to the clean and punchy production of Die Fighting.
It's almost like a lullaby, expressing an inner knowledge and guidance that can be found when you come back to yourself.
Blain Fitzpatrick - Bass
Look at this absolute legend. A few days after he had finished tracking, Blain hit me up and was like "the last chorus of Die Fighting needs a low D..." I thought it sounded great as it was, but he insisted, and the next day he rode back to the studio on his bike (bass on his back) to literally play one note.
He was right too, that one note changed the whole chorus.
Daniel Hayles - Piano, Keyboard, Synth
Whenever I write on the piano, I usually just bang the crap out of the keys and call it a day. I remember the first time I heard Dan play Made of Light in the studio I was like "ohhh, so that's how it should sound!"
Just another level of musicianship from this man.
There is extra magic sprinkled all over the album because of Dan. Organ swells, banging synth lines, subtle piano fills, it's the type of playing that really makes music come to life.
Lauren Ellis - Drums, Percusison
The Queen, the Dream, the I in Team.
Not only is Lauren's playing out of control on every track, she also came up with some game changer ideas that were not even close to coming out of my brain. For example, the outro to Made of Light swaps out snares from the tight gospel vibe, to a deeper and warmer sound. It really relaxes the whole feel and helps to change down gears between the sections.
It's small but significant changes like that which make all the difference.
Katie McCarthy-Burke - Backing Vocals
My word. Katie was incredible both as a singer and behind the scenes. She helped to create the vibe in the studio, and was a real support to me personally as I guessed my way through producing an album.
Some of my favourite parts from Katie are the "Just can't get enough" in the Boy/Girl Stuff chorus, or the wailing in the last chorus of The First Move. I'm sure the direction from me would've been incredibly vague like "hey can you do something cool over the last chorus?" and then she busts out that ad-lib madness and we're like "yeah, cool cool cool cool cool cool."
Ben Hunt - Trumpet
Bryn van Vliet - Saxophone
These guys came in for a day to lay down the horn parts, and lay it down did they what! I know that doesn't make sense, just go with it.
One of my favourite parts about playing with such excellent musicians is that it gives a real freedom to experiment. The end of I Think We Should Date is one of my favourite moments on the whole album, and that came about purely by messing around and asking them last minute to solo over the outro.
We call that improv in the business - some real life yazz for ya.
Alistair Isdale - Upright Bass
Alistair takes over with the upright bass on track 04, My Princess. He comes in, talks some fancy engineering jargon with James, nails his takes - done and done.
All in a day's work for this boss.
There's just something about the upright that makes my heart go mushy. I'm stoked we got it in there. Hey, I also just realised that we have matching haircuts now! Go us.
Bryan Wilson - Cello
USA based cellist Bryan Wilson recorded remotely for the track Die Fighting.
We've never actually met in person before, but have been friends for quite some time now. His parts were originally recorded for one of my earlier self-made attempts of the album, and they were so good that I had to have them on the final version.
Having real strings created such a massive lift for the song, and it wouldn't be nearly as impactful without them.
Matt Mulholland - Lead Vocal, Guitars
Hey, that's me!
Look, I'm just happy to be here aye. The whole recording process was one of the best experiences I've ever had. Each step along the way was a massive learning curve, and I couldn't have asked for a more supportive team.
I think we've really made something special together, and I can't wait to do it again! Maybe next time I can do it in two years, rather than six. Okay fine, three. Four years max.
James Goldsmith - Recording Engineer, Mixing Engineer
Captain of the studio, master of the mysterious arts, James was an absolute pleasure to work with and did an incredible job. We ended up spending quite a lot of time together in close quarters, especially during the mixing sessions. He managed to decipher my mostly nonsense requests with patience and respect, and sculpted the sound into something far beyond what I had expected.
Apologies for the selfie - 95% of the photos I have of James are of the back of his head, this was the only one where you can see his face.