This was the third song Calla and I recorded together for her upcoming record. After having recorded the first two songs, one track at a time, using click tracks, tempo maps, and long distance recording sessions with musicians in Montreal and Toronto, we wanted to do something immediate, quick and really allow the vocals to reflect the particular emotional intensity of these lyrics.
We placed her electric guitar amp in another room of the studio, with the door open to the main room where she was singing and playing, turned the amp up and she recorded the guitar and lead vocal at the same time with no headphones on. It requires a talented vocalist to make this approach work but it can be an incredible way to capture a performance and really give the vocalist a chance to embody the lyrics in the vocal performance (as opposed to having headphones on and doing take after take of vocals to a pre-recorded bed track). Of course you lose some of the potential control you have over the vocal take but in this case, that was a good thing!
After the main guitar and vocal track were done, we grappled with how to treat the surrounding soundscape in reference to how the tone and energy of the production choices would enhance or detract from the meaning of the lyrics. In the end, we felt that even though the words themselves and the story behind the song were quite intense and dark, it was better to not purely reflect that darkness and to avoid a sense of brooding and that a strong presence of light and beauty would enhance the (not entirely obvious) sense of hope in the lyrics. There certainly are murky layers and some deep and dark synths and drums (that's Calla playing the floor tom!), but it's the effervescent moments in the synths and the beautiful vocal layers that really bring the aspect of hope to me when I hear the song. It's almost like the background instruments and vocals form another layer to the lyrics. Even though Calla is singing lines like "there is a demon that lives inside of me, pulls me down into heaviness" and "the damage, the darkness", the song ends with a sense of hope and redemption that's really only mentioned twice in the lyrics.
That said, the third verse, where Calla sings about the demons and her voice really opens up, is by far my favourite moment in the whole track! That and "caused by the slow erosion" - the harmonies and the quality in her vocals all through that verse really make this song for me.