I walk around with a list on my head of the types of songs that I will one day write.
Back in August of this year, my close friend Nick McCorriston and I found ourselves part in Quezon City taking part in devised theater show based around a fictional cosmology of love that we barely understood. I for one felt completely out of my depth, and so fell back on my most reliable nervous compulsion- pop songwriting. And the list.
NickaMc and I had played in bands and done music stuff together over the years, but had never written together before. With only electronic instruments at our disposal, I knew NickaMC was going to have to do all of the heavy lifting on the production side. I told him I wanted to do a Euro-Dance anthem called Love Universe, I wanted it to have lyrics in english with a super-earnest english-as-a-second-language vibe. He came back half-an-hour later with the chords in a sequence on his ipad.
In that moment, I was anxious. I hadn’t expected him to write the chords. What kind of chords did NickaMc write? I had little reference to know. What if they weren’t powerful enough?
He played them to me and I realised that I had the name of the song wrong. These chords were so powerful, they clearly existed as herald to something bolder than life and newer than love. New Love Universe. I wrote the melody and lyrics in about twenty minutes. The saga of the song then proceeded through the rest of our time in Manila.
The head of the Sipat Lawin Ensemble, the beautiful JK Anicoche, was very magnanimous when we informed him that we’d written a song for his deliberately non-musical show. He was downright saint-like when we got him to translate the lyrics into tagalog and record an alternate lead vocal for us when he was supposed to be getting the cast ready for the test audience.
I recorded my vocals in a booth made of mattresses in the apartment of Sipat’s other company head Sarah Salazar, in the sweltering heat, under NickaMc’s demanding gaze. The gorgeous backing vocals were provided by Sarah and her fellow Sipat-ers Joelle Yuvienco and Meila Romero.
We ended up performing the song as the climax to the final night of LoveNot, in an extended version that featured JK and also my stupendous White-Leg compatriots Jordan Prosser and Sam Burns-Warr on the inevitable rap verse. I will agitate NickaMc to release the extended mix.
The performance took place overlooking a balcony overlooking the pool that LoveNot took place in and is one of my most treasured moments as an artist.
My MOST treasured moment as an artist, however, happened a couple of months later. JK was in Australia, taking part in a panel discussion at This Is Not Art in Newcastle. I was in the audience as he briefly discussed the way that LoveNot had been designed as a precursor for a Sipat musical called Love. JK, a man who is never lost for a winning turn of phrase, referred to Love as an attempt to create a New Love Universe.
I did a little air punch in my seat.