Comfort & Joy
Like all our previous posts on Medium, there’s a kick-ass set of songs to accompany your reading on Spotify. Comfort & Joy has a super eclectic mix of influences, which you can here on our newest playlist, so click here to have your brain turned to mush.
The opening chords you hear on the acoustic guitar are a combination of “Across the Stars” by John Williams from Star Wars Episode II and “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” by Whitney Houston. My grandmother loves the latter song and my dad used to always disc-jockey that particular tune at our house parties, when we lived back in Portugal. I hadn’t heard it in a long time, but somewhere in the back of my mind that Whitney Houston song laid dormant, until one day it came out in the form of a new tune.
I (Marcelo Cervone) believe we are antennas and composing new music (now a days) is taking something you love and making it your own. Arguably, it was the same back in the days of Stravinsky and Debussy, but some other part of me says: they were “true creators” and since then — the impressionist era I mean — there have been new sounds and new combinations of notes, but not much “new music” — I mean, I’m not forgetting the jazz of the 20s, 30s and 40s that was running alongside the impressionist era, nor am I forgetting Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Elvis, The Beatles, all their contemporaries and the legends that came afterwards… But still, I’m making the point that it’s become harder and harder to be “original”. So much so that I said “fuck being original” when I was 13 years old and since then I’ve been “authentic” instead. I compose what I like to hear, rather than being on a constant crusade to find the next new fad.
Part of my job as an artist is to nurture my antenna and keep the channel open — can’t be clogging up that shit with too many toxins (fast food, alcohol, drugs, lack of sleep, conspiracy theory chemicals like fluoride…), and I certainly can’t keep it clogged with a broken heart. Though, once again arguably, a broken heart can be the best inspiration sometimes, as can a butt load of booze and some magic shrooms!
Comfort & Joy is a fictional story in my mind. Though, I know that this “fiction” is a reality for some people. It is the story of a man or woman who is questioning his or her faith. I’ve never for a second questioned mine: I have absolute faith in myself, in the universe, in the Force (*cheeky smile* — though I’m being truthful), in nature, in God…
This is the story of someone who questions their faith in the authorities that cloud their judgement; questions their faith in the institution of religion, rather than spirituality. However, the character I’m singing about isn’t as open minded as you and me: he hasn’t yet distinguished between religion and spirituality. So for this character, questioning the institution is questioning his spirituality. It’s a fucked up predicament to be in. What would I be without my faith? It drives me everyday.
My muse for this song was Vilde Randgaard. I was with her when I composed it and I owe her a big thanks for being their in the moment of inspiration, because she was the channel opener that day. She helped me feel inspired through the conversations we have and the music we listen to together.
The idea to add a trumpet was always there from day one. I always imagined a full orchestra playing this song, even as I sang it to Vilde the first few times. It’s very filmic in style and composition. In it’s rock version, one trumpet and a bunch of guitars is enough, but one day I dream of recording it with a full orchestra — cellos, violas, violins, double basses, oboes, french horns, the whole shebang!
I’m currently learning how to play the trumpet. I practiced specific techniques on the trumpet in order to be able to play the melody you hear in between verses and choruses on the record. It’s quite a modal melody. It reminds me of kings and queens of old.
The idea to have a trumpet in a rock song (rather than any of the other instruments in that dream orchestra of mine) comes from listening to Muse. Check out their song “Knights of Cydonia”.
The break down in the middle was composed a week before we started recording the EP. I composed the original song with Vilde about four years ago in 2013, and since then, I’ve listened to a lot of Foo Fighters (praise the Rock Lords). If you listen to the breaks in the following three songs by the Foos, you’ll hear the influences they had on “Comfort & Joy”: “Back & Forth”, “A Matter of Time” and “In The Clear”. While listening to these songs, listen to the way the drums and bass are locked in together. It’s that kind of tight monster-jam that you hear in the second verse of “Comfort & Joy” and then in the face-melting break down.
The ending of “Comfort & Joy” is a moment of channeling my inner Jared Leto, influenced by certain songs like “Hunter” and “Kill Me (Bury Me)”.
The lyrical theme in the final blow-out of the song is slightly wider. It isn’t just about questioning ones faith, it’s also about inner monologues, silent battles and mental illnesses. When I was a kid I was so positive (and so ignorant) that I thought if I ever got “depressed” I’d just be able to tell my brain that I’m “happy” and it would obey. Nowadays, in my primitive maturity, I understand. I’ve had inklings and glimpses at how draining it can be to feel low. It’s very hard to win those battles — sometimes they’re the hardest — and in our world, we’re all riddled with mental illnesses: depression, envy, greed… And two of the biggest killers: denial and apathy.
And with that cheerful closing remark, I will love you and leave you. May the Force be with you and rock on!