I wrote a number of ballads for the forthcoming album and it was hard choosing which ones to record, but ‘Leaving Town’ always stood out as a really interesting song. It represents an odd style of music this Industry would rather didn’t exist – a sub-genre of synthpop which I like to call “pastoral synthpop” – the gentler side of electro that evokes the feeling of a landscape (or seascape in this case) with a sense of yearning in the melody. I think Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in the very early 80s were probably the pioneers of this style in pop music but artists like Air, Goldfrapp, Erasure and even Pet Shop Boys circa ‘Behaviour’ weren’t afraid of this more subdued, reflective approach to electro.
‘Leaving Town’ is one of those songs which was inspired by a sound – in this case, an unusual arpeggio sound on one of my synths which reminded me of a boat in choppy waters. The lyrics formed around these mental images along with the other sounds such as the synthetic oboe and Mellotron flute.
‘Leaving Town’ is about leaving something that defined you, but paradoxically, for which you were never really suited – a kind of failure to belong. For example: a town you grew up in where you felt like a fish out of water; a relationship which wasn’t quite right, but not quite wrong either; a job you held for a long time but where you never fitted into the corporate culture. In all of these examples, the security of familiarity keeps us in this stable but not ideal situation. But as my doctor recently explained to me, when you’re standing on a hill and the flood waters are rising, sometimes you need to dive back into the water in order to find higher ground – and in a way, that’s what this song is about.
UPDATE: Feb 2013 – replaced demo with album mix