Songwriter Colm Warren talks to the Last Mixed Tape about his brand new single ‘Void’, influences and what he’s listening to right now.
What’s the last song you listened to on Spotify?
Way to make myself look cool here! But the genuine answer to that is ‘The Excavator Song’ by Blippi. It’s actually quite the lyrical achievement, as it happens.
What’s the last record you bought?
Maybe some redemption here. The Junk Drawer record – Ready For The House. Outstanding.
What is influencing your music right now?
I’ve been interested in incorporating a lot of strings/orchestral parts (played by people, not computers) into what I’m doing now – just to make sure I couldn’t be accused of re-hashing the punky, no-frills approach of my previous band, The Twenty. One extreme to the other! So have found myself listening to a lot more classical and instrumental based music than I probably ever would have previously. To be fair, though, it’s the songs themselves that I allow to dictate where I think they should go musically. I don’t start off by writing something with an aim to fit a particular genre or whatever. Possibly not how someone would advise you to do things – but it’s the way I do it. I just write the song with whatever emotional theme I have in mind for it – and then try to put together music and instrumentation that I think will best reflect the emotion or themes I am trying to explore.
Tell us about your new single ‘Void’. How was it written and recorded?
I’ve had the song for quite a while and recorded countless home demo versions of it over the years. I always thought there was a good song in it but just couldn’t quite get the right ‘feeling’ on it. At one point, I actually had another part to it that almost encouraged it in the direction of a very poppy, catchy Lumineers-type tune – which was definitely not right for it. It started to come together when myself and my good friend Joe Egan (who produced the track) started to deconstruct why I didn’t like previous versions. We changed the key, slowed it right down and he had a contact, John Byrne, who could help get strings on it, which I’d always wanted for it.
So Joe and I wrote a new middle eight section together, based around what we thought strings should be doing, dropped the happy-clappy bit and all of a sudden it started to take shape. We recorded it in Joe’s studio in Clara, Co. Offaly with the strings played and recorded live by the FAMES Project in Skopje, Macedonia. A cool wee thing about that was that the players actually tapped their bows after the session for ‘Void’ and another track they were playing for me at the same time, as a sign that they enjoyed playing them. That was pretty special for me – especially as I’d kind of been struggling to come back to making music at the time, if I’m honest.
What do you want people to take away from the track?
Without getting into it, like a lot of the songs I’m developing now, ‘Void’ is a pretty deep one for me personally. I’m making music again because I had to get rid of what felt like a massive weight around my shoulders that seemed to be telling me I wasn’t doing what I should be doing – like I needed to get these songs out of me. Not for recognition from anyone else, although that’s always nice (and almost always surprising!) but for me myself and, particularly, some people very close to me that I really needed to hear them. In saying that, I’m trying to do them as well as I reasonably can and putting them out into ‘the world’ for anyone to hear – so if people give up their time to listen to a few minutes from me, that’s a genuine privilege and something I’ll always be incredibly grateful for. If they enjoy what they hear along the way and seek to keep an eye out for what else is coming from me musically, even better. I’m not really looking for any more than that.
Void by Colm Warren is out now.