C:\Music\Impulse Purchase\Spotlight\I Hope It Rains
It's been about 4 months since my EP released on the internet so I thought it would be nice to spotlight each song.
The second track on the EP is I Hope It Rains. You can listen to it here.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: breakups make you do weird things.
On the day of the winter solstice in 2013, I met a girl who would change my life. Less than 24 hours later, we decided to become boyfriend and girlfriend and 10 days later we decided that we loved each other. She was a musician, was due to start studying at a music college and had recorded songs with a company called Downtown Artists before she met me so her interest in my music meant a lot to me.
It was my first serious relationship and it all went well until around April, when she released her first single and I, knowing nothing about the music industry, thought it was going to be an instant hit. I told her that I felt something I couldn’t describe about the fact that she had these opportunities in music that I didn’t have. She suggested some things I could do but we didn’t really talk about any of this again.
I had a lot of stressful things going on that month and in May, 21 weeks after we met, she told me that she had started smoking again, which I was very much opposed to. She broke up with me, listing off things that I’d done which made me feel like I was a horrible person.
Prior to this, we had planned to spend a weekend at London’s Comic Con, not buying tickets but instead visiting the fringe events outside, and this weekend fell about a week after the breakup was finalised.
I planned to turn up to this event and win her back. My reasoning was that I had done it before so I could do it again, all I needed was a disguise. I contemplated buying a green morphsuit and going as Shrek but didn’t have the time to see this through.
I also felt a bit inadequate and like my music career was amounting to nothing so I contacted Downtown Artists and they offered me an audition that weekend – I now had an excuse to be in London.
Comic Con is a weekend-long event and on the Saturday morning, I was in my student house in Coventry. I looked out of the window after I woke up and thought to myself, ‘she’s outdoors today, I hope it rains’. Later that day, there was a huge hailstorm.
We met up at the event on the Sunday and I got the closure I needed, realising that maybe she wasn’t worth being so distraught about losing after all. Unfortunately, no Shrek morphsuits were involved in this encounter. On the way home, I felt comfortable calling her my ex, having said “my girlfriend who is breaking up with me” to people for the whole day.
When I arrived back home, I started playing some gentle chords on my guitar, singing about fog not clearing and hoping that it would rain, with someone realising that I was the sunshine they had walked out of. 2 songs with 2 slightly different messages, it seemed.
Downtown Artists called me back a few days later and that’s where the whole process of creating (and paying for) this EP began.
A few weeks later, I was camping in the Isle of Wight. My ex was scheduled to be on this trip but… you know the rest. I bought a guitar from a car boot sale (a Yamaha Pacifica and an amp for just £50 from a guy who used to gig in Coventry). I spent a lot of time in my tent going over the chords I played in my room that day, on some nights falling asleep with the guitar on my stomach. I decided to weave the 2 songs, Fog and Rain Dance, into one, preserving the multiple key changes and ending the song with the “fog won’t clear” section.
I returned to the studio in December 2014. Back in September, before I left London for a new year of university, I was working on a song called Harvest. I had made a version of the instrumental at home, programming all of the notes and chords. I had inadvertently made it impossible to be played by humans – it was a sustained 4 notes per beat at 123 bpm in the first verse, so just over 8 notes per second. My producer tried to record it by playing it on his keyboard, kept messing up and got physically frustrated, shouting “What is wrong with you!?” at me.
I decided to abandon Harvest since I couldn’t quite finish it and played the producer a few partial songs I had ready. Fog (I Hope It Rains), as it was called by then, was one of them and we decided to go ahead with that one. As we recorded a rough run-through, I ad-libbed “I haven’t written the words to this part” as a placeholder for part of the song which I hadn’t written and the producer told me to keep it in there.
In one session, I brought in a few odd instruments to include in the song, namely my didgeridoo, a Jew’s Harp and my Nintendo 3DS, which had software to manipulate vocal sounds. A quote from my producer as he distorted some of my vocals from this session: “I like working on your songs, it’s an excuse to mess things up”. The section which starts “break the silence” was hard to record into the condenser mic because I kept moving my whole body as I started the line. Eventually I switched to a handheld mic and sang as I jumped around the vocal booth.
By the end of the month, we had a mostly-complete song with a guitar break where I planned to add a sample of Michael Fish’s infamous 1987 Great Storm weather report (“Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she had heard that there was a hurricane on the way. Well if you’re watching, don't worry, there isn't”).
As I was going home from the last recording session of that year, my ex messaged me for the first time since the breakup asking how I was. We proceeded to have a long conversation about things that weren’t said before and tried to arrange to meet up. The meetup never came about and some time later, I realised that it was all an attempt to keep me hanging on.
I kept working on I Hope It Rains, playing it live on a few occasions. The Michael Fish sample, in the full broadcast, continues with “…but having said that,” which allowed me to segue nicely into a rap verse, something I really wanted to include somewhere on this EP since I was a rapper before I was a singer. I also changed the ending from a slower drain-out where I repeated “the fog won’t clear” to a key-changed chorus, reiterating the point I had been making all along with the song rather than diluting its message.
When I returned to the studio in summer 2015, the song was much more developed and I put my new additions into the recording. My producer was impressed that I was able to do the whole rap verse in one breath.
Something that I’m particularly proud of in this song is that it has 3 verses and 2 pre-choruses, which all sound different. I don’t know if there’s any music terminology for the structures of songs but I compare this to Welcome To The Black Parade or Bohemian Rhapsody in its use of non-standard sections and way of building up.
After recording was done, I set out to clear the sample of Michael Fish but after the BBC and Getty Images said they wanted an £800 fee (which would increase for every sale over 10,000 units, so a likely final total of £800), I removed the samples from of the song.
When it came to promotion time, I chose this song as the lead single, partially because I was able to create an
alternate version by cutting out the first minute. I hoped that the 3:39 running time would make it more radio-friendly. BBC Introducing, however, weren’t convinced. Really, the choice was a process of elimination. Flare had a feature and I wanted a solo track to be my first release, Sweets For My Sweet wasn’t very representative of the rest of the EP and Sphairistike is… niche.