Twisting the Fairytale; The idea and the process. By Jeffry-Wynne Prince
Part 1 – Introduction, “Malice in Wonderland”
In 2015 when we first started working with Merlot, it became obvious that she was inclined to create music that was more symphonic and dark in nature than what I naturally write. I found this to be an exciting musical direction to take my songs in, so I started working on a new song with the title “Malice”. While recording the last album, we had finished the song “It’s a Wonderful Lie”, and I thought this was such a clever play on words from Bractune twisting a famous movie title, that I came up with extending “Malice”, to “Malice in Wonderland”. Initially, I had pictured it being the opening song for the last record. I had an idea for a weird chorus section, and I had a keyboard riff/motif I was very excited about. I played with these ideas, but just never could seem to get it to come together. When Merlot brought in her draft of “Light of Sorrow”, it became very clear to me that the keyboards I had worked up for “Malice” were kind of perfect for “Sorrow”, so I was left with a title and not much else.
After finishing the last album, I was listening to a lot of the bands that we were getting compared to – many of which I had never heard (Digital Daggers, Icon for Hire, The Birthday Massacre). I found myself really liking this sub-genre of dark-wave, and in listening to it I was inspired to start working again. From this point some original melodies presented themselves to me in my head while I was driving – I would sing them into my portable recorder, and when I got home I would attach lyrics to them. Within a period of a few days, I was able to compose the chord structures and sing a completed version of the song, accompanied by acoustic guitar. I played it for the other 3 and they were all very enthused about the direction. At this point, the song stopped being “mine”, and became “ours”. This is historically my favorite part of the process – when all the other writers start having their own concepts about what can be done. Merlot really helped me flesh out the lyrics, as well as improved on the melodies and added all of the harmony vocal parts that happen. As usual, Michael had very strong ideas about how the low-end could be shaped to best serve the energy of the track. Bractune had a lot to say about how he thought the drums should work – feeling that simple would be best, he really pushed us to keep the groove as uncluttered as possible, and to use the drums as the foundation for the song, rather than for the movement. I was a hard-sell on this idea – I thought the drums should be frenetic and slightly insane. I was wrong. The musical contrast needed to come from elsewhere so that the song would have an anchor. Bractune also contributed some chordal ideas in the early stages that really helped inform the melody.
Conceptually, this song gave us the idea to do a concept album – we thought that taking fairytales and modern conventions, and turning them inside out would be an interesting listen, as well as fun project for us to work on. While both of these things seem to be true, there was a lot of frustration to be had in undertaking this album in the months to follow…
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