PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE (A LOVE SONG)
Passive Aggressive is a love song. No really. Its about two people who have contradictions in their personalities.
As it is now getting radio airplay I thought I would would explain a bit more about it!
Being passive aggressive is having internal anger and not verbalising it. But the anger comes out in other ways, such as shutting off communication completely. Like the friend who sees you when he/ she wants to, but does not communicate for months otherwise. When you meet, silence is what greets you, or maybe you are unfriended on facebook wtihout explanation. It also can extend into areas of narcissism or dismissive behavior if magnified by trigger situations.
DON'T CARE / OBSESSIVE
The song starts with unstable synth notes, which present a slightly wobbly sensation. Then, quite quickly, the first verse starts.
This is person 1 talking to the other person. "Passive aggressive, don't care obsessive, forward regressive" and then a cheery "What do you want to be today? In case that is too strong a statement, he follows up with "You know I love you... but you are in trouble"
Some problems are being confronted here within a relationship. The chorus provides more clues, but is a sympathetic lyric. " You can't stand this stress your under, take a chance you will shine" At last, some optimism that
things can get better and the music, which is less dark here supports that. "Life has sunshine life has thunder. I take you as you are"
I really meant this lyric to be a sentiment of support to the other person. The chorus, from what people tell me, is quite gentle, even pretty, compared to the verse.
I'M LIKE WEATHER...
In the second chorus the singer sings about himself. Many of the things addressed to the other person actually apply to him. "I'm like weather, always changing around. I now know we're the same"
The message of the song is that we all have problems, we just have to try and live with them, if we can and to understand the other person. And that can only be done in the context of love.
And don't we need to try an understand each others problems at the moment? I think so.
HOW THE SONG WAS CREATED
Many years ago I wrote a song called "Hope Springs Eternal" which has some lyrics and a similar melody in the chorus. "Every moment every second, bring me closer to your light. I can't stand this stress I'm under, bring me closer to your light"
This melody, slightly changed, eventually became the chorus of this song.
Otherwise, the percussion came first, It works against a conventional structure with different elements coming out and in. I think there are 4 interlocking drum patterns on two drum machines there triggered partly via MIDI into adding extra ticks (some a bit annoying) by the bass notes used on the synth. After then creating the synth lines by using pitch wheels on the Roland I wanted the chorus to be a positive contrast with the verse which features a slightly unusual chord progression. F minor, A flat minor B flat minor to Fsharp Major and B major back down a semitone to Bflat. It never really "lands" The chorus is a series of ascending chords alternating between major and minor, finally resolving on D flat major. As usual most o f the music was improvised without pre rehearsal. Lyrically, the title came first then the other contradictions in the verse. The song existed for 12 months, unloved and not rated by myself and it took another year after that to complete. It was an extremely personal song and I kept going back to it without a clue how to get it to be better. I was going to chuck it away but my vocal was (for me) at least impassioned and strong enough. As my vocals sometimes fail, this needed more consideration.
The full studio take is some 8 minutes. The final two features my synths sounding like two clucking chickens having an argument. It wasn't the best of ideas. Adding electric guitar was better, but it was too long a wait with not enough going on in the song before that. So, the song was not working. But I found a preset with quasi - strings, combined with a gentle synth lower note on a "dual" setting. Putting this in the chorus, with a melody on one of my favourite patches, the ambi shaku, put musical "sunshine" into the song and completed it. Just a few little differences can make a song from unpromising, to maybe the best thing you ever did. That is a valuable lesson!
I didn't have a pre determined style or influence for the song. Undeniably, it could have a nod, at a distance to Depeche Mode. The biggest surprise from the reactions to this song was the praising of my vocals. I have improved
my voice in recent years by a LOT of practice and trying to refine recording techniques. This means I can put more energy into the vocal which means less multi tracking. I never use any pitch correction as I feel it is cheating so I was very
pleased with the end result.
I CAN'T STAND THIS STRESS I'M UNDER...
When I mixed it and played the album version in the car I felt both elation and intense emotion. Like the end of a long journey.
We have been under a lot of stress in 2020, the phrase above just expresses it. It got me then, in the car and gets me now. Its a cliche when musicians say "oh this album is SOOO personal" I write about fantasy sometimes but most of my stuff comes from the heart. The difference is that the songs I am writing are the words in the middle of a stick of Brighton rock that goes through my soul. I just hope that people will identify with the struggles and situations I'm describing, but find some comfort in how these difficulties are being expressed. There is comfort in my "In Recovery" album.
Passive Aggressive isn't an overtly happy song, but it is a hopeful one. The shorter more "passive" version was released as a single in August 2021 and has had some radio play for which I am very thankful.
Thank you to SYNTH CITY for playing my song many times
RADIO KAOS CARIBOU and
RICH JAMES ELECTRONIC CAFE RENDEZVOUS
RADIO TFSC OLLIE AND KIREINA
RADIO DARK TUNNEL (MARTIN)
and others who very kindly shared my music
and for those who are getting to know this slightly unusual track.
(Passive Aggressive is taken from the Album "In Recovery" 21/02/ 2021)