James A.M. Downes provides the inside scoop on a recent instalment of his single-a-month project, and it’s a cheeky one!
Haunted Continents is the solo project of James A.M. Downes whose love of music stems from his early passion for movie soundtracks, Weezer and The Beatles (and the fact that his dad just so happened to leave a Stratocaster lying about in the home). Having been making music since 2002, his current style will find a welcoming embrace from fans of The Shins, or anyone who likes their music with both melody and a lyrical tinge.
Starting back in September 2018, Haunted Continents will be releasing a single a month for an entire year. The latest instalment in the project is Your Server Had A Bad Day. The song, complete with its plethora of expletives (sensitive ears be warned), condenses the frustrations of working in the service industry into just under two-minutes of impassioned indie folk – so it’s over to James to unpack this cheekiest of tracks for us…
“Anger, straight frustration. I had a particularly painful day at work and I just couldn’t reframe it, couldn’t stay positive, couldn’t let it roll off my back. There’s a burning frustration that only people who work in the service industry can relate to and I was feeling the burn that day. I’d heard one too many demeaning side comments, endured one too many shitty privileged attitudes, had to wear a smiling mask in response to too much oblivious behaviour. This song was a knee jerk reaction to that rough day I lived. I was grateful it came so easily, it was truly therapeutic.”
“When I got home that day, I picked up my guitar and the lyrics just spilled out. No filter. ‘Fuck you and your wristwatch, your lunch appointment too. Fuck everything you stand for. Fuck everything you do.’ These are meaner lyrics than I typically like to write. I’m all about presenting problems and solutions in the same song. In this case, I allowed the song to be as unbalanced as I felt that day.
“The anger resulted in some of my favourite lines to date. Honourable mention goes to, ‘Some grin with shining teeth but you can’t let down your guard in this writhing sea of haircuts armed with metal credit cards.”
“The music needed to be simple to effectively carry the message. I was so into Phoebe Bridgers that winter. Her music brought me back to the idea that a simple guitar progression with the right lyrics was all you needed. It’s easy to drift into the outer realms of production with all the technology at our fingertips, but with this one, I was dedicated to a simple and lonely sounding arrangement. I was hoping the solitary guitar and vocal would evoke the same, ‘All alone in this world,’ feeling you get when you’re so angry.”
In The Studio
“This song, along with all the other tunes I’ve recorded this year, was tracked in my NYC apartment. I have a Universal Audio Apollo Twin that’s perfect for the engineer working with space restrictions. Just like the approach to the lyrics, I wanted the session to feel effortless and flowing. I kept my second take for guitar and first take for vocals. It was all about the feeling, not about the perfection.”
“I’m grateful for the chance to indulge in my darker, less patient side. I think it’s an important part of my personality. I get fucking angry sometimes. We all do. It’s vital to express it in order to let it go. I hope the song will make the listener crack a smile – turn frustration into something positive. And absolutely, this song goes out to all the people hustling out there, grinding at a job they don’t love in order to make a better life for themselves, dealing with the careless and sometimes hurtful behaviour of others. We aren’t other people’s opinions of us. We are definitively whatever the hell we say we are.“
Your Server Had A Bad Day is out now. For further info, head to hauntedcontinents.com