UTG Track-By-Track: Bird Talks ‘Figments Of Our Imagination’

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Just days ahead of her new album arriving in stores, Bird has partnered with UTG to offer fans an in-depth look at Figments Of Our Imagination.

I imagine Bird’s music probably served as the soundtrack to the film Drive in another universe. There is a calm, cool, and endlessly hypnotic vibe to her sound that uses elements of pop, indie, rock, and emo to create an altogether intoxicating music experience. We believe Figments Of Our Imagination to be an album capable of launching Bird into the mainstream, and we feel honored to share her track-by-track rundown of the album this afternoon. You can read her thoughts on every song from the record at the end of this post.

Bird will likely be touring this fall, so keep an eye on her official Facebook page for updates. Click here to place a last minute pre-order for Figments Of Our Imagination.

The Girl Can’t Decide

This was one of the earlier tracks I wrote.

Totally inspired by the Casio MT-40 which plays the electronic beat and bass line part.  With this track, as with almost all the writing I do, I had the music idea before the lyrics. Normally the lyrics take a while to slot into the music but I remember with this one, I was driving home with the rough music mix playing and a voice memo recorder on in case I had ideas and the whole song just came out of me almost word for word. like some ghost writer in my head had already written it, it was quite spooky. I’m particularly pleased with the “timpani drum” sound in this track, which I got by wrapping a scarf round a pair of drumsticks and playing a floor tom.

Thrill Me

I started off with the Hammond line for this song….the rest came from that.

The triangle line is a sort of homage to a band I love in Denmark called Hess is More. They have lots of cool triangle in their tracks (before I heard them I wasn’t sure triangle could be cool). Again, the MT-40 was a big part of this track, and electric guitar.I wrote about 20 guitar lines for the chorus, and it was tough deciding which ones to delete and which to keep.I think you can tell I like the Smiths and the Stone Roses if you listen carefully to the guitar parts I kept in the chorus.

The lyrics for this song were inspired by a photo in a magazine of a famous clothes designer. The image was so strong. It appalled and intrigued me, so I tried to imagine who that image was meant for and wrote a song about them.

The Dare

Again, one of the earlier tracks I wrote. It feels tense and I was. I could tell at this point making an EP wouldn’t be enough and that I was embarking on a new album, but I was nervous about the prospect of writing and playing the whole thing alone, I feel sometimes when I hear this track it’s the point at which I turned the corner and dared myself to push myself and take the leap and just make the album.

I love the fact this song has a rock vibe, yet has loads going on. It was the first time I really experimented with the Farfisa. I love the way its raspy tone works with the more rocky guitar, and the vibe nods to my early musical years playing drums in an all-girl rock band called Mustang Sally when I was 15. Everyone else in the band was nearly 20, and they used to sneak me halves of lager after the gigs.

Stereotype

For me, some songs almost write themselves and some need to be written, re-written, re-visited many times before they work. I nearly scrapped this song completely when I couldn’t get the early versions to work, but I am so happy I stuck with it as it’s one of my favourites now. The main problem was I wrote the chorus first and loved it and couldn’t make the verses strong enough to work with it. I stopped thinking about verse “melodies” and focused on intent and getting my message across. Then it became clear how I should write it. I love the chill out end we managed to achieve on this track. My engineer, Al Lawson, suggested reversing the piano at the end of the track and that’s how it started and I built it from there.

Hypnotise

This is one of my favorite tracks. I unashamedly love good pop music and I think this is really a pop song.I love that the character in this track is totally in control but still, you can tell she (or he) had a journey getting to that point.

Again the music started the writing journey. I was getting used to working with the MT-40 and farfisa together by this point in the album but wanted less melody (ironic this should have become the most poppy number…) so I started working with single notes played over and over again and this hypnotic sound started forming, and so I had the title.

Small Town

This is the only song on the album written specifically about a personal experience. I was living somewhere I didn’t really want to be, but circumstances meant I had to stay. I remember clearly walking over this bridge every day thinking, I should write a song about feeling this way.

Then I heard John Newman, Love Me Again, playing out of someone’s car and I started humming my chorus lyrics along to an instrumental part in that song and realized it could be a cool uplifting song even if the feelings were a little dark.

I’m really into the drums I played on the last chorus of this song, it gives it some sort of Motown vibe I wasn’t expecting. Al got this amazing sound for the kit that day, I remember it was baggy but cool, sort of crisp and airy at the same time. You don’t hear that so much on the track now but it’s spirit is there and it adds something great. Also, the drums at the end. He added the delay into the headphones so I played them live with the delay effect on (instead of adding it afterwards) so the playing is really felt.I’m a big Stewart Copeland fan, and when I was learning drums, I listened to the Police a lot. I think you can hear a little of that influence in the drumming in this song.

Lucky

Probably the most important song on the album. It was (along with Love Love Love) the first song I wrote for this album. I lost my Aunt and she left me a little money and it was with that, that I started recording. Originally I just thought to make an EP dedicated to her (now the album will be dedicated to her) and I wrote this song about her death really. I’m probably most proud of this song because I worked over and over again with it until I got it to the point of mixing. Years ago my ex-boyfriend found a demo tape on the floor of a studio he was recording in, he brought it home and we played it; it had nothing written on it except “Fourtet”. The music was brilliant and I’ve since bought two of their albums. You can definitely hear their influence on this one.  This is probably the jazziest track on the album, and I’m really happy it went that way, as jazz has also been a big part of my musical growth. I used to sing jazz covers in bars in London for cash when I was younger and it helped train me as a singer.

Love Love Love

I’ve never written a positive song about love really on any of my albums (or co-writes) so I thought I would try. In the end this one got a bit twisted anyway, but the intent was there. I really wanted a song with a dramatic ending, and this is the only track that has someone else on. I got Chris Kimsey, my producer on this song and Al the engineer to do background vocals for me. All the other voices are me doing different impressions of singers. That was probably the most fun afternoon I had recording. I’m sure you can hear me laughing a bit on one of the takes.

Drink Drink Drink

I’m really happy with how dark this song is. It took a long time to get the balance right between that and the rousing type of chorus I was looking to create.I also really wanted to write a waltz. I figured if any song deserved a waltz, a song about drinking might. I like the simplicity of the parts in this track, it’s actually quite empty. I even took the snare off the drum.

Think So

Last song on the album and also the last I wrote for the album. I bought this little kids keyboard online as a present for someone and when I heard the samba beat pre programme on it, I took it to the studio to record; really shabby, but kind of cool, and the song grew from that. When I was recording the piano for this track my hands turned blue. Turns out I have this hereditary circulation problem that decided to start right when I was recording. It was a little scary at the time, now when I hear this track it just makes me laugh and think of the Smurfs.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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