The music and melody of Summer, Somewhere was inspired by the repitetive nature of EDM.
I wanted a chord sequence that would stand up to repeated loops without losing interest. It's based mainly around a constant return to the dominant, and never really reaching the tonic. This is emphasised even more by the extended dominant pedals of the bridges and build section before the last chorus. These dominant pedals never resolve to the tonic (instead just looping back round to yet another dominant chord as they reach the chorus).
In addition to the repetitive melody, I also wanted a background rhythm that would bear repeating, but wasn't a standard four to the floor. Hence the mix of dotted crotchet/crotchet, spread over the seven beats of each bar.
The constant tension and lack of resolution in the chord sequence informed the lyrical content, and this was probably the quickest I've ever written a set of lyrics - completed in one 30 minute session at a piano.
Summer, Somewhere - Screaming Maldini
This song took about two years of evolution before reaching it's finished state.
The main synth riff was the first thing to arrive, and that (along with a spate of listening to Machester band, Everything Everything) inspired the fast-moving, tongue twisting girl-boy melody lines of the verses. The verses exsisted for about a year alongside an alternate (and not very good) chorus before me and Gina sat down and wrote the chorus as it appears on the record.
I love working in 7 in a bar, and especially enjoy trying to make an odd length of bar sound natural and symmetrical. With an incendiary drum performance from Tim Walker (I comped this take together from a 20 minute jam he did along to the riff) I think we got close here!
The Awakening - Screaming Maldini
This song is about the idea of just struggling to keep your head above the water against all of life's day to day struggles - money/love/career - and the idea that we're floating above an abyss just waiting to swallow us should we flounder.
Gina delivered a breathtaking vocal, showing a huge range, both in pitch and dynamics.
The harmony is based around chords related by thirds. The build at the end is one of my favourite bits of music that Screaming Maldini made, a real burst of realisation, but never really resolving.
Abyssinia - Screaming Maldini
I wrote the melody for the verses and choruses for this in about 20 minutes while waiting for a student to turn up. Written for my mother, it was one of those where, melodically, it all just appeared at once.
Harmonically, I really wanted the verse to chromatically twist and turn, but for the chorus to be a lot more routed, staying in one key, and to create a slight variation for the synth solo, I just shifted the verse chords up a whole tone, before the rising chords (related by minor thirds) of the second half.
To create a sense of spinning out of control during the final "all I felt was the whole world spinning" , the vocal line is three bars long, while the chord sequence is four bars long, which means there are three vocal repeats against two harmonic repeats.
The lyrics took a while longer, but once I had the slightly nautical theme, the production took care of itself. The horn part in the verse was great fun to write, and was worked out alongside Chris Noble as he recorded it.
The female choir in the choruses and ending section was recorded in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Sheffield Cathedral. It's one of the most beautiful and resonant acoustics in the whole of the city and has pretty much limitless options in terms of capturing the ambience whilst tracking choral parts.