Blog of independent record label 80HD Records, based in Wellington, New Zealand. Run by Ben Walker | www.80hdrecords.co.nz | @80HDRecords | contact@80hdrecords.co.nz

Behind The Music: Heartbreak


Following on from my first BTM post about SFTM, here I’ll give a bit of insight into how we created Heartbreak. Back around February 2011, me and Dart were working on some stuff at my granddad’s house. At the time, the house was up for sale but noone was living in it, so it became a great place for us to make music totally uninterrupted. A lot of the EP was created / recorded in that house - SFTM (re-recorded final vocals there), Heartbreak (final recordings and beat revamp done at my house though), Been This Way (vocals recorded there), Daydreamer (vocals recorded there) and It’s Cool (most of the beat made there).

I was just playing around with some sounds one afternoon while he was sitting there writing. He heard the drums I came up with and was really into them. In the space of about 5 minutes I added a little guitar bit and some organs. That right there was the original Heartbreak beat. I’ve got to say that creating a track like that is definitely not how I would normally do things. I prefer to make the beats alone and get them to a stage I’m happy with before showing anyone.

Dartel was really into the rough beat and had a hook and some verses he’d already written that went perfectly with it, so we recorded the vocals and we had our demo of the track. At his request I gave him a version for live performances too and that demo version was actually a track he’d perform quite often during his sets in 2011. I used to hate hearing it live because the mix was super rough nor was the track mastered, but a lot of people seemed to like the track regardless.

Fast forward to around November 2011 when we were finishing off Shoot For The Moon and Dart was really keen to have Heartbreak on the EP. I was 50/50 on it because the beat just wasn’t something that I was happy with and it didn’t reflect the kind of music I wanted to put out. So we came to a compromise - we’d include it on the EP if I could remix it and give it a new beat. I came up with two or three new beats, but at the end of the day none of them were really that great, nor did they fit with the original vocals.

Finally, I decided to just go back to the original Heartbreak beat and refine it, which worked really well. The only problem was I ended up overproducing it by using too many sounds, which made it impossible to mix and overall, I felt the overproduced beat really lost the soul of the track. Funnily enough then, after all that extra effort, I ended up stripping the track back to something that sounded really similar to the original Heartbreak demo, but with more polish and better drums. The only significant difference was that third verse, which was quite different and less busy on the original demo.

I think Heartbreak really showcases some of Dart’s awesome lyrical ability, especially the whole “lines” metaphor at the very start. I’d often say to him that I wouldn’t “get” some of his lyrics until way later on after listening a million times. That “lines” metaphor at the start was one of those situations. When I did finally “get it” - I thought it was brilliant.

Given my (and others have mentioned this to me as well about their own experience with his lyrics) tendency to not fully grasp his lyrics on the first listen, I’ve come to understand that my responsibility as his producer is to create a beat that ¬†immediately captures people’s attention, so that they give themselves the opportunity to fully digest and understand all those lyrics that might go over their head on the first few listens.

I’ve actually been really surprised to find out that Heartbreak has been getting good plays on Radio Active. Myself and Dart had talked about it being a radio song, but I honestly didn’t know if it was as strong as something like Daydreamer or It’s Cool. At the end of the day I don’t think you can ever really know what people are going to like or what’s going to take off - you just have to create songs that you enjoy and that you’re proud of and hope the rest falls into place!

— 1 year ago