Stripped back and acoustic, what this reworked song lacks in bold electronic production is made up for with raw honesty
We firmly believe that a song’s life doesn’t end at the point it’s recorded. Most obviously, when performed on stage it can be given repeated makeovers or offered as a faithful gift to audiences who project their own meanings and experiences on to what they’re hearing. For indie-pop artist Mogli, the question was whether the songs on her recent album Ravage could stand alone without the bold electronic production that helped to reinforce her message. Taking a quartet of those tracks, she stripped them back to reveal their bare bones. Unadorned, her tales of self-empowerment, vulnerability and feminism somehow shine even brighter.
Here we learn all about the acoustic version of Animal…
Animal was born out of the realisation that healing can look different for everyone. I was reflecting on the different outlets I choose to deal with pain and trauma. Artists can be quite self-destructive but for me, it helps a lot to have some kind of control over it by intentionally letting my demons out to play so they can’t bite me in the ass unexpectedly.
The lyrics have an intentional double meaning all the way through. I could be talking about a drug or a person I love. I wanted to emphasize that there are various ways to be let’s say “self-destructive in a non-harmful way”. Obviously “not harmful” is very subjective. I chose “animal” because I’m addressing instinct and deeply rooted desires and impulses in contrast to clear-headed thinking. I believe we need both to be truly happy and not suppressing this side of me gives me balance.
When I first spoke to my mate and pianist Magnus [Bang Olsen] about making an acoustic version of the original song he couldn’t envision it because it has a very simple chord progression, the melody and lyrics in the chorus stay the same and what makes the song special seems to be the bold electronic production with the techno drop, its vocoders, vocal chops and the over the top bass line in the end. But while I love all these things, the core of Animal means a lot to me – it has an intensity to it that I wanted to capture in an acoustic way. Plus I love a challenge!
IN THE STUDIO
I met up with Magnus and Hannes [Butler], producer and friend in the studio and we decided we wanted to record live, without click, and all together. We wanted to create something raw and honest. I intuitively had the idea to change the key, retrospectively I think to give the song a different intention instead of “copying”. Mags sat down on the piano and, after a few jams, I asked if he could try to play the drop on the piano. That was a big breakthrough. It sounds so beautifully intense but also quite melancholic.
The rest just flowed naturally, like me singing the bass line because I missed hearing it in the moment. One big choice we made was to dub the main vocal and add some small vocal effects even though the whole recording is a one-take live recording. It takes away from that live feeling of course. But it was important to me to make the acoustic version a proper song and stripping down means putting your focus somewhere. As I said, I wanted to focus on intensity and to me the intimate but strong effect dubbed vocals have helped create it. It’s also why we added a four on the floor.
It was such a beautiful experience to break down one of my own songs to what I cared about most in contrast to what maybe sticks out the most to the listener. The new version has such an emotional urgency because of that. Making it was also so much fun, here’s to actually making music together with your friends instead of constructing track by track (nothing wrong with that of course). I feel like you can hear in the recording how free we felt on that day, creating together without pressure. I’m also so very grateful to have such a strong connection to both Hannes and Magnus, I feel like you can hear that too.