For me, the most interesting part of making music is taking that germ of an idea and turning it into a song. In the early stages, a song can be anything – it is undefined and unlimited, and with that comes a great degree of optimism. As the production progresses, it seldom reaches its imagined potential and the end stages of getting the mix and mastering right can be somewhat painful for a perfectionist like myself.
When I released the cover versions album It Must Be Obvious in May 2014, it felt like an unfair equation because I’d experienced all the struggle of any previous album but without the inspirational genesis of the songs. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best decision to do an album of covers, given my creative temperament.
In any case, by mid 2014 my mind was violently reacting to the self-imposed embargo on songwriting during the making of my covers album. This led to a spurt of songwriting in late 2014, one song being Saturn’s Sun, which I recorded the vocals for on my birthday, 28 November 2014.
But life is unpredictable. 2015 turned out to be a year where I largely had to put Space March on hold. My partner and I sold our apartment in Glebe, Sydney where I had lived for over 15 years and recorded all previous Space March albums. On settlement, we found ourselves in the midst of a property market boom – we couldn’t find somewhere to affordably live and so moved in with my parents. By September 2015, we had moved to a house in Leura in the upper Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney. I spent the rest of the year getting the “house in order” and setting-up my new recording studio. This involved sifting through “mountains” of old technology, much of which I haven’t used since the 90s. I now have a studio that combines the best of old and new technology. So far we are enjoying the natural beauty and creative community in the Blue Mountains and don’t regret the move from the city, although we do miss Sydney.
Being very conscious of my lack of musical output in 2015, I wanted to release a single and video in early 2016 whilst continuing to work on a new “originals” album. I didn’t think too hard about it. Saturn’s Sun was the closest song I had to finished, so that was the one!
Saturn’s Sun is atmospheric synthpop with a bittersweet feel. It’s a song about human exploitation, and ultimately, the egocentricity of mankind – that our sun is also Saturn’s sun.
The song has an unconventional structure in that there is no verse / bridge / chorus format – the main vocal melody is like a verse and chorus combined into one with instrumental interludes – a bit OMD in that respect. There’s a middle 8 (“It’s a long time running…”) that is also used an outro, and there’s a sort of second middle 8 in the latter part of the song (“Are you old enough…”) too. I like how the song takes you on a journey, as opposed to the repetitive hook format that is so popular these days.
I think it’s too early to say whether Saturn’s Sun sets the tone for the album, as I have a variety of songs for which I’m still experimenting. I think the album will be varied.
For the video, I decided early on to leave me out of the vision, and to make it more of a digitally composited/constructed work. The idea was to contrast an emotional human face against the cold cosmos – showing the human self at the centre of the universe and a kind of battle between Earth and Saturn. In short, I wanted the video to help explain the lyrics.
So how do you feel about Saturn’s Sun? Is it the sort of sound you’d like to hear more of on the forthcoming sixth Space March album?
For more information on the release including streaming and download links: