Scoring FR-025 - The Popular Experience
fr-025:.the.popular.demo was released at Breakpoint 2003, and it went on to become, in a most deliciously self-fulfilling prophecy, the popular demo in the following years. I estimate that it's been downloaded about 750,000 times, with more than 500,000 downloads alone on scene.org, the demoscene archive. That probably makes it the most watched demo ever, and I am seriously awed by the amount of people outside the scene who know it. When I got involved in the project, I couldn't have known and wouldn't have dreamed that any of that was going to happen.
In the beginning,...
I was approached by fiver2, who had wanted to make a pop demo since at least 2002, probably earlier, and had already started on concepts and graphics. .Werkkzeug1 was being used for intros and demos both already and had proven itself capable of winning parties (in particular, Mekka/Symposium 2002 with the fantastic fr-019: poem to a horse). All signs said "go". Fiver2 insisted that the soundtrack should be the first thing to be finished, so he could synch properly and mold the demo to the music, and so I started. I wanted to make a candy colored discohouse tune that would appropriately capture the mindless indulgence of pure pop.
Finding the melody
I browsed through my unreleased and unfinished tunes to find inspiration - I do this from time to time when I'm looking for something specific. I've got a huge backlog of unfinished material in just about every style, mood and sound that I can use as reference. On this particular day, I stumbled upon a a groovy house track that I had made a couple of years ago, heavily influenced by Moloko - Sing It Back. A simple synthesizer riff over a deep, kind of latin bass and luscious strings, backed by a shuffly, grooving beat. Perfect.
I had meanwhile changed my weapon of choice, switched from Impulse Tracker to Buzz, so I translated the song from one sequencer to the other, changed it around a bit, used some fancier instruments where samples were used in the tracker and well, something was missing. I started looking for a vocalist.
Finding the vocals
I met Mike May on an art forum. He's an amazing artist, and he was one of the bigger shots on there. When I put out my call for a voice, he sent me a recording of his, and I was impressed. I decided that I wanted to work with him. I wrote the lyrics and melody over the course of two or three days, at first just humming along to a loop, then, when I had a melody, writing a text to go with it.
The lyrics to .the.popular.demo tell of something that seems to creep into everything I write, and that is the imminent loss of a good thing, and enjoying it while you've got it. The full text goes as follows:
Tonight tonight, it's all in motion,
Can't feel the gravity.
Tonight tonight, what is this potion
That makes a fool of me?
Tonight tonight, I'm seeing stars -
I'm blind with love.
Tonight tonight, we're Venus and Mars
Winking from above.
Tonight tonight, I feel like moving;
Like flying endlessly.
Tonight tonight, the city's grooving -
They're dancing all for me.
Tonight tonight, the perfect night,
The only one.
Tonight tonight, I'm holding you tight;
Tomorrow you will be gone...
They're a bit silly, and I rhymed love with above, but I think they capture the butterfly-like blissful melancholy of a moment of happiness that you know is going to fade. It's a fairly wide gamut of emotions, as far as pop music goes :)
It's all going wrong
The first draft is never exactly what you need. It turns out that the first draft of the music wasn't up to snuff. I went to Hamburg for a weekend, stayed at fiver2's place and tried to get a better feel of what he wanted. I re-wrote the whole shebang in a mere day, and that was the foundation of the final version.
Right before the supposed release of the demo, disaster struck. I didn't get the vocals in time. Everything was now up in the air. The song wouldn't work without vocals. There was no way I was going to get them in time. What was there to do?
We decided to go with the replacement vocals that a friend of Chaos, his choir conductor in fact, had recorded a couple of weeks earlier. They weren't what I had imagined, and I was really miffed about the whole thing. Additionally, both Chaos and I had organizing duties to attend to while trying to put the finishing touches on the demo. I struggled a bit (10 agonizing beta versions) with the placement of last minute sound effects (the sweeping arches), but finally we had a product. I wasn't totally happy with it, mostly because of the wrong vocals, but it killed at BP. Not even the botched mixing (done on headphones at the party) was too distracting. After the compo, I was finally happy.
We quickly released a final version, with the vocals from Mike May and a little better mixing (although, looking back, it's still pretty much atrocious), and the demo went on to the top of the charts at pouet, where it still resides. An amazing ride that sometimes still makes people go, "THE wayfinder?" when we meet online, and I'm very glad that it all happened the way it did.
Download fr-025 Soundtrack (Single Edit) (House, 3:40, 4.2MB)
No Pingbacks for this post yet...
Jumbo? Perhaps not!
- Unfortunately placed ads (114609)
- A wallpaper which you can use on your own computer, for your desktop background at home (56658)
- Chicks and dinosaurs (22791)
- Waldo is WHERE??! (18350)
- Funny Sports Photos (16626)
hosted by untergrund.net (thanks!)