Track By Track With Dark Fair
Dark Fair's debut album Off Into My Head is a fearless, at times confronting and all in all brilliant release. With lashings of Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and 90s revival throughout, themes of gun violence balanced with themes of love and Adalita sitting amongst the production credits, Off Into My Head, is a release worth digging into. So let's do just that. Read on as we go track by track with Dark Fair themselves.
1. First Thing I Become
Ellie: One word: cowbell. There’s not enough cowbell in this world! No but seriously, I love the brutal guitar in this song and recording the backing vocals was super fun. It’s actually my favourite song to play live now.
Ramona: It's a loud, edgy track about being addicted to falling in love with kindness and looking for it during those heavy times. It's about being resilient and that constant struggle some of us having internally with ourselves. Go gently but boldly.
2. Distance In The Line
R: This is probably the most confronting song on the album. I had been feeling an overwhelming grief or despair about the gun violence going on in the world. In particular, the shootings in Tunisia, violence in Syria and in the USA. This song is written from the perspective of someone actually being in the event of a shooting, watching people they know being taken from them, and being overcome by the surrealness and the reality. Strangely, I happened to be next door to a shooting in the USA last year. I felt this fear and dread, and the out of body experience smeared in reality. People were screaming. People came running into the backyard of the place we were staying. Shocking. Having said that the song also is about ending violence and hope. It's about cherishing the distance in the line of people's lives.
What I loved about recording this song was experimenting with all the layers. It is a special song, and while the subject matter is harrowing, the melody is actually really beautiful. After we finished in the studio I recorded a number of guitar overdubs in a library. Yes, a library! These swirling, glittering guitar parts just seemed to float about me and I think the song truly took form.
We almost didn't record this track as it was so new. Thankfully, Adalita saw it's potential and told us we had to!
3. New Renaissance
E: Initially this track wasn’t an album contender. Adalita really pushed us to include it and I’m so glad we did because I think it’s one of the strongest songs. The structure’s really simple, it’s got great energy, and the guitar hooks Ramona wrote for it are just so killer.
R: The optimists in us like to have a new beginning a rebirth a bit like Sylvia Plath, but you can't constantly have epiphanies and awakenings. The song is about new relationships and the way we sometimes slip into the old habits of the last relationship. Ouch!
4. Nothing Can Break Me
R: At one point in my life I found myself in this day job that was very mundane. I felt like I had let myself conform which was something at school I vowed I would never do. The song is about escaping from your day job, jumping off that daily grind of public transport and running for your life for a different scene, a different experience, a risk! I write in the song about dreaming of being back at school. I do have the recurring dream often where I'm at school, seated for an exam and completely in the nud. I haven't prepared for the test. I never really did in reality because I was always daydreaming.
Ellie and I are big B52s fans and I think that was a reference in the vocal parts, especially the start. Then my formative years of being obsessed with the Doors shines through in the guitar runs at the end of the song. The process of creating sounds or parts is weird because we never thought let's do this because this band did something similar. I just think music is similar to psychology. You have these default musical behaviours that come out at different times and influence what you are doing. The difference is these default musical behaviours are a really fun thing!
5. Off Into My Head
E: I think originally, we wrote this song around the intro drum beat. We started jamming on it one day and the bones of the song took form.
R: Off Into My Head is literally about withdrawing and going into your own world. This is the safe place. I wrote this at the end of a relationship. I became just emotionally not present. I think everyone has been here but for me I learned that I escape problems sometimes by creating another world for myself to hide in.
R: My partner loves this song. This is her favourite song that we play live. So, I wanted to have it on the album. Obviously, driven from a bias. The song touches on themes around returning to the wilderness, being liberated and forgetting our urban lives. I am at heart a surfer and often when I'm surfing I hear Currawongs, Koels and see the marine life. Surfing is a truly liberating activity and you really do feel connected to the ocean and land in one hit. So, I guess that's the basis of the song.
I really love Ellie's backing vocals on the track. She can sing very, very high notes. Her parts really gave the song lift. It's a fun song to play live too.
7. Dangerous Heartbeat
E: This was one of those songs that sat on the shelf for a few years. We always knew it was a really special song, but we couldn’t decide on the right structure. We workshopped it a lot with Adalita – our co-producer – before we went into the studio. It’s song people really connect to when we play it live, which we love.
R: I think this is one of the strongest songs on the album. It's about heart, love and grief. It's not a breakup song though. We all have people we love and unfortunately, we also say goodbye to people we love too through death. When I wrote this I felt myself in a space where I was holding those people I have loved and lost through death ever so closely. It's like a dream when someone returns to you, and you have this time with them in the dream and then you have to say goodbye again.
8. Hungry Ghosts
R: Some people have asked us why it took so long to record the album. I've danced around this issue quite a bit because it's probably my fault. I had a really bad run of health issues. I've had ongoing endometriosis which I've now had three surgeries for now. I also had to have my tonsils out after they went rogue, and then last year after influenza and food poisoning I got pancreatitis spent two weeks in a hospital on a drip, with no food or water. I spent most of that time in hospital by myself and so I used some of this time listening to the album. I was determined when I got out that I'd finish it. When I got out I went into my room and got stuck into my stryman and POG pedals and came up with those awesome organ and harp like sounds you hear in the break section of the song.
9. Sweet Romance
E: This is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It’s a beautiful song, and we wanted to keep the arrangement quite sparse. At the time we recorded it though, I was going through a pretty awful breakup and was crashing at Ramona’s place. So it was kind of bittersweet. Thankfully music has a powerful healing quality. Wow that got emo, sorry.
R: I have a bit of a dark passenger inside me. Loads of songwriters, artists and every day people do. I don't mind having it because it helps drive my compulsion to write music. I don't mind diving in and exploring it and seeing what sounds or words or melodies I get from it. So, Goodbye was written from the very plain observation that nothing lasts forever but what I love about this song most is it's kinda funny. The lyrics are very simple and I think it's a bit tongue in cheek. It's not really a serious song. It also has this very 90s or 60s vibe that I dig. I felt like we were channelling the Breeders or Pixies and a bit of Nico. Obviously, I love the Deal sisters!! I loved doing the end guitar overdubs, the lead guitars have this trippy very 60s/90s feel.