wild heart - i worked on this track for a while before i had the right idea going. i would drive all around trying to write the lyrics and melody to the track. i always knew it would open the album and therefore it had to be the perfect introduction to the whole body of work. any excuse to drive around and work — so… i would go to this guitar shop all the time when i was living in jersey called lark st. music. id write on the way there, look around, and then write the whole way home. wild heart was basically written on trips up and down rt. 4 going to lark st.
rollercoaster - this was the first song i wrote for strange desire and i remember when i had the idea in shop called ronnies bagels which is a mile from my house at the time. i had the main synth line which at the time was done on an old yamaha organ and sounded way more ‘church/CSNY’ than ‘secret garden’ at the time. i was getting a bagel and had this idea for someone being a roller coaster. at the time i was in a wild romantic situation which i won’t go further into…… but i was like, “you’re such a roller coaster” —- couldn’t stop thinking that in my head while i ate a bagel. rushed home and wrote it out.
shadow - this one goes to montreal because i was on the phone with my friend sara who lived in montreal at the time when she told me about this article she read about the a therapist who discussed the concept of one’s ‘shadow’. we all have a shadow. its the shitty unrealistic version of ourselves that only we can see. for example, my shadow’s facial features are taking up WAY too much real-estate on his face …. and his speaking voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard. point is —— that phone call to montreal made me want to write this song for sara. something felt special about putting it out there in a grand way and not just on the call.
i wanna get better - i was in a hotel room in kuala lumpur malaysia and then end of a 6 week international fun. tour. i was so broken in everyday. i missed home, my girlfriend, my ‘normal’ life — i had been sick so much on that trip i kind of didn’t remember what it was like to feel well. i had had this idea for a long time to write a song that really spelled out my entire life experience and why i am the way i am in the verses —- then culminating in the chorus with something we could all share together. basically creating a blend between me screaming my diary into a mic and EVERYONE screaming something together in the choruses. i didn’t know what that something was…. i kept thinking that night in malaysia about healing. but then i thought that was bullshit - healing is crap —— wanting to heal has weight. wanting to get better is far bigger than getting better…… it was that simple. 4am in malaysia and i started shouting i wanna get better.
wake me - i had the idea for this song in hamburg germany and was going to stockholm the next day. having an idea for a song is irrelevant compared to actually having a song. i get ideas all day but rarely do they actually turn into songs… the idea in germany was this vague concept of wanting to be sad with someone instead of away from someone. it struck me as a modern version of romance. a realistic one. like, id rather be sad with you than away from you - cause sometimes thats what it comes down to. got to stockholm the next day and had a session with patrik berger which i assumed would be to work on some major dance music. got there, started singing the idea….. this slow ballad just came out. the “can’t believe i captured your heart” line just fell out while i was trying to explain the idea.
reckless love - i was on tour in austin and went alone for BBQ. actually it was take out cause i felt weird about eating alone in such festive environment. whenever i get take out i over order out of the fear of not having enough and there being nothing i can do about it. sad. so I’m waiting in line at iron works — and it was a day that i had been really shitty to myself. started thinking about how bizarre it is that we can treat the people around us with compassion and somehow not be able to apply the same to ourselves. if we could learn to be as kind to ourselves as we occasionally are to others life would be so much more livable. so I’m online and i kept having this thought that the way we love ourselves is reckless. a reckless love. got the giant bag of BBQ, went back to the hotel and started writing. i let the food get cold because i was so excited about this idea i had. thats when you know something matters. wrote most of reckless love that night in austin.
take me away - it was during the storm before sandy… can’t remember the name (elliot?) and there was no power at my house in NJ.so i grabbed all my recording crap and took it to my friend daniels house in tenafly new jersey. set up in his basement were 10 years before that our first band outline use to practice. i was in a strange place because i couldn’t be in my house. had the loop that would become take me away on my laptop and just started free associating with lyrics. humming things, singing things, saying things. did 3 vocal takes and then just left it. never went back to the song until months later when i played it for my girlfriend who had a very intense reaction. she called it “chopped up ballad” — which was almost the name — and talked about how it sounded like nothing i had done. i tried to work on - didn’t work. tried again - never worked. i couldn’t match the initial magical of making up the lyrics as i went. at some point right before the album was done i realized it is what it is. showed it to claire (grimes) who sang a loop based on those initial lyrics - worked that in and the just left it. so the final version of take me away is made up of those actual 3 vocal takes i did at daniels house during the storm. still don’t know why i kept saying “i know you’re sorry” —- but one day ill figure it out.
like a river runs - i recorded tons and tons of music at this house, but like a river runs is the only song i did start to finish there. and for that reason the song feels like the house. i recorded the entire thing in my sisters room which was the final place i recorded in that house. had started in the living room, moved to the guest room, eventually into my parents room and then ended up in my sisters room which is where i recorded until i finally moved out. the song is so linked to those aimless days of having NOTHING going on besides the music i was making in that room. it stills sounds lonely to me. just like take me away, i tried to re record the lead vocal literally 100 times in different studios all over the world - but it never had that loneliness that the originally one i did in my sisters room had. that original vocal was so honest because it was written and sang in the moment it was created with that dark feeling. so that’s the vocal on the album. re did a lot of production and made it sound huge and wild —- but the main vocal is still the one i did into my SM7 in my sisters room in woodcliff lake, NJ.
you’re still a mystery - the last song i wrote and recorded for strange desire. having 10 songs is a specific thing because you could end there. 10 is enough. there reason why there are 11 on strange desire is because i sat with those 10 at this bizarre/awesome Woodshed Studio in malibu and just felt like there was something missing. some positive pulse that needed to happen towards the end of the album to bring the right energy back in before the album drifts into a dream state with the last two songs. i was thinking a lot about my relationship in that studio and was amazed that after 2 years the whole thing was such a mystery to me. then i realized it wasn’t the relationship that was a mystery it was her ——- started humming …. ‘you’re such a mystery’ over and over. literally grabbed a bass (which is why the song is built around that simple bass line) and sat on the deck of the studio looking at the ocean and wrote the song in 20 minutes. with that, the writing of strange desire ended in a way that it had never been at any other point. every other song took days, weeks, months —- and you’re still a mystery came out start to finish on the deck in malibu.
i’m ready to move on - having element of wild heart, this song was really crafted in the studio. i wanted it to be a very digital/disconnected version of wild heart. almost as if the album has made this wild shift from beginning to end before becoming completely organic again with who i want you to love. john hill and i sat in jungle city studio with both our MPC’s plugged in to the main speaks and started making sounds. we just piled tons of crap on that sound nuts and went back later to sift through it. while it was still a mess yoko came in to record on. i remember that day because it was when the plague had ripped through the studio. literally everyone had the flu besides me (which is a serious argument to get a flu shot - i was the only one) and laura our engineer came in SO sick to record yoko. seriously, laura could barely stand up. so yoko comes in, eats a bunch of holiday cookies that were in the studio and then starts going nuts on the song. screaming, singing, talking, animal noises etc etc. she leaves and laura and i sit there in jungle city for the rest of the afternoon and pick apart yokos different vocal takes. later i took it on my laptop into my bed to create the actual parts yoko song, but this track was really built and created in jungle city.
who i want you to love - i was on tour in japan staying at the cerulean tower when i wrote this song. was in my hotel room and had just seen a doctor who came over. i thought i was dying. everything felt off - couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see straight —-felt like i was standing outside of my body. the doctor checked me out and then sat me down and said something i will never forget. he said “it takes decades for us to understand our own bodies”. it meant so much to me. i was having a massive panic attack and sitting with this old man in my hotel room in japan was comforting. the idea that the way we are will make more and more sense as time goes on was something i could live with. the song is about letting go - turning your head to all of it in a way. he left and i started to write. fell asleep, woke up at 5am and kept writing. the song took a while form there but was absolutely born that night in japan.