From time to time we ask an artist to join us with a guest column introducing a new release. Today Erica Elektra (Hearts of Palm UK) weighs in on her favorite tracks from That's Intense, out now on Itunes, and describes how the album got its name.
By Erica Elektra
I sat down with Dan Horne of Lone Palm Studio to begin work on the album, and he asked me to describe the songs and the feeling I was going for. I told him that this was basically a concept album, of being brokenhearted and going through breakup after breakup. I wanted to convey my sadness. He was quiet for a while (as he often is) and then said… "Whoa, that’s intense.” And he was absolutely right, cuz my album IS intense!
My favorite 5 tracks off the album, in no particular order, they are just what came to me.
This is a song I wrote many, many years ago while I was living in Portugal. When leaving the country, I’d had to find a new home for my cat, and when I took her there (which was located in the Humboldt countryside), she ran away and disappeared. Her bones were found a few months later. This song was an homage to that sweet kitty who was so special to me. I had never recorded the song properly and when working on this album, I thought it would be really nice to revisit it and make it sound beautiful. After all, it fits in with the theme of “That’s Intense”… cuz losing a pet is really intense.
I like this song because it’s so simple. There are no real chord changes that distinguish the verses and choruses… in fact there is hardly a chorus at all. This song was an exercise in minimalism and it feels very different from what I usually do. Because of the simplicity, I feel like the heartfelt lyrics are able to penetrate the listener in a more direct way.
3. “Oh No”
I just like how this sounds like something you’d hear on the dance floor in some trashy club in Germany. It’s total Europop. Writing the music and lyrics also came really easy to me. Something about this song was just effortless, and that’s why I like it!
4. “Please Understand”
This was a song I built entirely on the Omnichord, and so the writing process was quite different from what I usually do. I also think it really represents the Erica Elektra sound… it sounds somewhat chipper and happy but when you listen to what I’m actually singing about, it’s quite sad. Someone once described my music as upbeat melancholia, like a rain cloud made out of cotton candy. I feel like this song is a perfect example of that. Plus I can’t help but love the use of dried out coconuts to replicate the sound of horses’ hooves during the choruses…
5. “Heading West”
This was really fun to flesh out in the studio. I love how Dan played the pedal steel and gave it a real country vibe. I also like all the hawk and rattlesnake samples we used. It just ended up sounding totally different from what I usually do. One other thing that made this a different type of song is that I wrote the lyrics with a non-musician friend of mine. I wasn’t feeling super inspired to write about anything, I was sick of sad love songs, and so I asked her to tell me what was on HER mind. She had just done a road trip from Oklahoma to California and had a lot of imagery and philosophy to talk about… so that’s what I wrote about!