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TRACK-BY-TRACK: Summer Camp
Laurie Tuffrey , September 13th, 2013 11:03

Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley tell us about their new album, which you can stream in full below

London indie duo Summer Camp this week released their self-titled second album, out via Moshi Moshi (get hold of it here), and the band's Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley have kindly sent us this excellent track-by-track, taking us through it. Come on, it's Friday afternoon, time to down tools and have a listen and a read - do both below:

The End


Jeremy Warmsley: I didn't realise it would sound like we were trying to be clever by putting this song first. If I had done I would have demanded we rename it it! This track started with the weird little synth warble. I remember Elizabeth had lost her voice the week we were writing this so for ages the vocal line was just on a crappy little synth. The ending was always supposed to be pretty triumphant but when we took it in to Stephen Street, who co-produced and mixed the album, we just layered on instrument after instrument until it sounded like the most epic thing ever. Stephen is amazing at balancing instruments so they still have a sense of space about them. He's also a great tambourine player and you can hear his work on this track!

Elizabeth Sankey: I remember thinking the key change was a pretty bold idea of Jeremy's, but he's full of bold ideas. We wrote a song earlier in the process (can I really use the word “process”? TOO LATE I ALREADY DID) which was about, sigh, touring and being away from people you care about #secondalbumproblems. And also the one horrible but inevitable conversation that comes up when you're on the road - how the odds are slowly increasing against you when it comes to having a car crash. I remember when I first started writing about music I read a piece about this band who had all died very early on in their promising career in the 2000s, it was awful. William [Bowerman], our drummer, has a particularly horrifying story about nearly crashing when he was touring with his first band. I panic a lot about people I love dying (and when I say “panic” I mean crazy OCD rituals), I guess the lyrics of this are about trying to face up to that fear, and accepting that you have no control, so just try and be happy. Have a sandwich. 



Fresh


JW: We had technically finished writing the album and then we wrote 'Fresh', 'Keep Falling' and 'Pink Summer', so they were all quite late additions to the record. This was written a couple of months before I heard 'Get Lucky', but I was very pleased when a few people compared the two songs. I mean, Nile Rodgers! Louis [Bhose] our bass player has a bit of a manic time with this one live - the bassline is really bubbly and busy and a bit OTT at times – in a good way, hopefully. People keep asking us where the strings are from, but we will never tell.

ES: I remember we spent a big part of the day we wrote this looking for a sample. I LOVE SAMPLES. I have a very special website I trawl, grabbing strange things from, and then send them to Jeremy. Jeremy found this one though, and as soon as we had the strings the song fell out, like a glossy little milk tooth. We were trying to write vocal melodies that changed constantly through the song so there were as few repeats as possible, and I was really into cramming as many words into the lyrics as I could. I was so chuffed to get “reneged” in there. This song is kind of two sided. It's a call back to the first album (John Hughes mention in there, and the Pulp references are because we worked with Steve Mackey on Condale) but it's also about a particular summer when I was 17. It's not about sex. None of our songs are about sex. We're saving those for album five which will be called, '(What Time Is It?) Sex O'Clock!'



Crazy


JW: This was the first song that we finished, the same week as 'The End', I think, where we realised "Ah, this is what the album is going to sound like". Before that we had been working towards the idea of making it ethereal and dancey, a bit like our Always EP but more floaty. But then we found the brass sample for this track and it was so obvious that it just had to bang, as they say.

ES: Hi, I'm nuts. Lyrically this song is about how nuts I am but how I kind of like being a bit nuts, especially when there is someone who accepts my nuts-ness. Own your nuts guys. I love the drums in this track, singing it live is really fun. 



Keep Falling


JW: I really love Elizabeth's melody on here, she's come such a long way in the short time that we've been writing together (if that's not too patronising. Well,  it's pretty patronising. Sorry
Elizabeth). It sounds nothing like it, but the bassline was inspired by Michael Jackson's 'Smooth Criminal': the way it stays out of the way of the backbeat makes it really funky.

ES: Ugh I feel so patronised. I seem to be writing about all the lyrics, we work on them together FYI... I guess this is similar to 'Crazy' in terms of mood. It's about a specific person in our life... I think most people have someone like this, or are a bit like this sometimes themselves - I know I can be. Some people seem to find life, being alive, harder than most. And you see that and just want to march in and tell them what to do and how to be because you think you can fix it. But you can't do that, you have to let them fall, and it can be devastating watching someone you care about struggle, and wanting to help them but having no idea how. And then you get irrationally mad at them because they make the same mistakes over and over, and push you away and hurt you... Well, anyway, this song is about that. 



Two Chords


JW: I love William's drumming on this. So frantic! I also really like the guitar solo in the middle of the track: it makes me think of Wile E. Coyote, legs spinning as he runs on thin air before plummeting to the ground. Not sure why. This one is a lot of fun to play live, as it turns out. A lot of the music on this record came out of the way our live show developed over the last two years; we knew we wanted to get William to put down some live drumming on some tracks rather than using sampled drums and drum machines on everything. Also, I found this way of playing guitar through my pedals that lets me make these infinite-loop textures, so that's the idea behind the solo, just drifting in this very manic way.

ES: This is the most personal song on the album. Jerry Seinfeld tells an amazing joke about musicians, “One cold winter's day, the members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra are on their way to a gig when their bus breaks down. So the musicians grab their instruments and start walking. Before long, they come across a cosy little house. Inside, a family is sitting around the dinner table, talking, laughing, clearly enjoying each other's company. The band members are damp and shivering as they gaze at this idyllic Norman Rockwell scene. Finally, one of the musicians turns to another and asks: 'How do people live like that?'” This song is kind of about that, our lives are pretty weird and unstable, but we wouldn't change a thing about them. But I don't think it's just musicians who would relate to that sentiment. 



Fighters


JW: Not too much to say about this, it's so straightforward and that's what I like about it. I love Elizabeth's lyrics. She recorded her vocals at Stephen's studio on his amazing vintage microphone (most tracks we did it at our studio, on our OK-ish non-vintage microphone) and it was all very exciting.

ES: My mum really likes our album, but she said, “I do need to say something... 'Fighters'...” I was like, “It's a METAPHOR mum”. I think she was worried we were condoning domestic violence or that Jeremy beats me up. I think there's kind of something incredible about fighting when you're deep into a relationship and you say awful terrible things sometimes, almost just because you can. But then, man, you feel so horrible afterwards. To be clear: it's emotional bruising, no couples were physically harmed in the making of this song. 



I Got You


JW: This was the first track we wrote for the record (at least, the first one that made it on) but it went through several revisions before making the cut! The weird warbly theme that comes back several times was part of Elizabeth's warm-up routine; I heard her doing it before a gig and thought it sounded like an amazing start to a song. I'm really proud of the drum loop on this too - the sounds come from some rather eclectic places...

ES: I have no idea what Jeremy is talking about re: warm-up routine! That completely passed me by. In our first round of feedback my Dad wrote something about this song which I really loved, “OK: it's Shanghai, storm troopers are closing in, storm clouds are massing over the Yangtze (you get the picture). Some sweet, defiant China girl sings high up on a green glazed tile roof. Things look bad but she’s got him…”. I love my Dad. 



Everything Has Changed


JW: One of my favourite lyrics that Elizabeth has ever written. I'm pretty sure we wrote this the week after asking Stephen to produce the record. I really wanted to have a song with a guitar riff I could be proud of! It was very daunting; we met him backstage at the Blur Hyde Park gig. We were really nervous about asking him to work with us but it worked out so well. The man is definitely a genius.

ES: I remember writing these lyrics, it was August 2012. We were really pissed off. It was such a strange summer, so much pride because of the Olympics etc., but then there was David Cameron wandering around with a massive smug smile on his face, being awful and cutting funding. This was the first time we ever toyed with the idea of putting politics into a song, but I don't think it will be the last. I get so angry about so many things but find turning those thoughts into lyrics that work very difficult, and it's so easy to just retweet a link and feel compassionate and that you're a Good Person. And maybe writing a song about something doesn't really do much? Regardless, there are some things you just can't ignore. Putin, we're looking at you.

Phone Call


JW: Another simple, sweet song. This makes me feel very emotional when I listen to it.

ES: I keep pushing myself to write faster and faster lyrics. For some reason this song is massively connected to that film The Wackness in my head. That film has such an awful title, but such an incredible soundtrack. I was playing Jeremy a lot of 90s hip hop like Biz Markie and The Pharcyde, and then he fell completely in love with J Dilla. We are always trying to emulate those guys.



Night Drive


JW: This was a bit of a labour of love for me. Elizabeth is such an amazing singer and lyricist that anything I bring to the table has to be pretty good to make the cut. It started off as another song altogether, then I took the guitar riff and made something else from it. I then managed to delete the entire song, forcing me to start from scratch. Elizabeth suggested taking it in a dancier, more blissful direction, which I thought was a great idea.

ES: My favourite song on the album. Hands down. I don't really like listening to my own voice, and I think Jeremy has gorgeous vocals, so I love this song. The best thing for me is when Jeremy writes something for himself to sing and I just get to walk in and be completely objective. And I've always been a big fan of his. 



Pink Summer


JW: The last song we wrote for the album - unfortunately, Stephen was busy working with Babyshambles by this point so we had to finish it off ourselves. Elizabeth wrote the guitar riff and insanely catchy bassline, then I added the harmonies in the chorus. I really like the piano in the outro, it takes it off into a slightly different world which is a nice way for the album to end.

ES: This song is about our friends. I've had the same group of best friends since I was 16, and we all speak everyday through an e-mail group that's been going for about seven years (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to reveal this). Jeremy is now really close to them too, and we love them so much. There is a Wizard Of Oz reference in this song which was inspired by one of those friends, Ellie, who also took the cover photo for the album. Ellie is amazing, she's an award-winning independent Radio 4 producer, but she's also the girl who sent me a 'Wizard Of Oz' rap when I said I was struggling to come up with lyrics #bestfrends.

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