Song Deconstructed: ‘Father’s Daughter’ by Shangri-Lass

Shangri Lass
Shangri Lass

Shangri-Lass: “I tried these lyrics and the melody out with a band I was in briefly at the time I wrote them and the main guy said it was ‘too girly’ for them to play”

Bad trips, religious brainwashing, depression and disassociation (not forgetting Chicory Tip) … discover the different influences behind this goth-glam masterpiece

The solo project of Sheffield-based musician and Sister Wives’ bassist, Rose Love, Shangri-Lass released her debut EP Over & Over earlier this year. The first offering from nascent label Redundant Span Records, the layered synths and sounds brood and sizzle like a sound experiment between Joe Meek and The Shirelles. There’s also something of a punky undertone to the EP, not least its closing track The Scandal, booted along by an uncompromising beat.

Now though we’re turning our attention to Father’s Daughter. Released as a single back in April, we were thoroughly charmed and added it to our Songwriting Credits playlist, writing, ‘Imagine Goldfrapp being commissioned by Count Dracula to write an eerie piece of synth-pop and you get close to this after-dark masterpiece.’ Imbued within the track are biographical fragments – Love grew up the daughter of born-again Christians who ran a communal church and swapped their record collection for songs of worship.

Put together, Father’s Daughter is an intriguing musical maelstrom, we asked Love to tell us all about this glam-goth masterpiece…

INSPIRATION

Each track on my EP is a bit different inspiration-wise and this one definitely came from the part of my brain that loves 70s guitar sounds and early 70s synth in glam rock and heavier stuff. It was pieced together from years of voice notes and lyrics, a big mess of ideas. Once I had the bass for the chorus though it became more glam-inspired because the riff reminded me of Son Of My Father by Chicory Tip. It’s a brilliantly naff, hooky glam tune written by Giorgio Moroder and the name also then made me think about how I get called my “father’s daughter” by my mum, usually when I’m doing something she can’t understand, which inspired the title and some of the lyrics.

LYRICS

I wrote most of the lyrics and the vocal melody about six or so years ago, long enough ago to not remember the details really, but I’d had a break up, moved cities, was burning the candle at both ends and feeling all over the place. It’s a gloomy number about depression and dissociation, that pure fear felt sometimes during big changes and bad trips, how religious brainwashing never leaves you and then relating to my dad through all those shared experiences and finding some solace in that.

I tried these lyrics and the melody out with a band I was in briefly at the time I wrote them and the main guy said it was “too girly’ for them to play haha. Glad I quit that band and got to use it for this song instead!

MUSIC

The basis for the song was the vocal melody and the bass synth line from the chorus, which came from a jam with Leia Graham who recorded and co-produced parts of the song and played guitar on it. The mood of the lyrics and that bass riff informed the rest of the synth parts, the guitar melody, everything. I was writing parts in the days between our very short recording sessions, so it all got layered up over a couple of weeks. It wasn’t a jam-the-whole-song kind of situation, it was listening to one part or instrument and then adding another, which I guess is the solo approach.

I can also only play guitar badly so Leia took my piano-written guitar lines and made them really sing. We then layered the guitars in the chorus, because Thin Lizzy are the best, and kept it simple in the verses to let the synth do it’s thing. I love guitar music but not being a good player means I try and make myself feel like that with synths or bass instead, or by just playing single string riffs. It’s a frustrating limitation but one I’m learning to embrace!

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Shangri Lass

Shangri-Lass: “I love guitar music but not being a good player means I try and make myself feel like that with synths or bass instead.”

IN THE STUDIO

Father’s Daughter was recorded in three different houses in basic home studios. We recorded the bass synth and guitar first, through various pedals and my bass head as a pre-amp for the guitar. Then we added another synth and some MIDI harps, which later got scrapped for strings. We did some very simple MIDI drums which were then replaced by my brother, who drummed on each track of the EP. He’s not a big 70s rock/glam fan but he got what I was after and really elevated the whole thing with his skills. So it was a collaborative effort in the studio.

I recorded the vocals at home on an Aston Origin, layering them up and trying out different harmonies and stuff. I wanted to get them sounding as good as possible dry, so went a bit overboard DIY soundproofing my housemates’ office with various household items.

It was then mixed and mastered by the very talented Dean Honer, he’s a great mixing engineer and his creative production on this song really tied it all together and made it all pop.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s been fun thinking about Father’s Daughter, it’s a heavy song that came out of a dark time but it might be my favourite on the EP! I hope you can hear what I’ve mentioned when listening and are also just having some fun embracing the mess of ideas songwriting approach.

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Over & Over, the debut EP from Shangri-Lass, is out now on Redundant Span Records. Find out more at redundantspan.bandcamp.com and follow on twitter.com/shangri_lasss

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