Song Deconstructed: ‘Low Lights And Throwback Tunes’ by Common Goldfish

Common Goldfish
Common Goldfish

Common Goldfish: “I actually create the most interesting music when my inspirations and references are quite far from the genre or sound I’m trying to create”

We get the lowdown on an uplifting anthem inspired by 90s rave tunes and a poem evoking memories of after-parties

The brainchild of Tottenham-based producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jonty Lovell, common goldfish made a splash with debut track Feel The Fuzz back in early 2022. With a sound that touches on 90s house music, the best of Madchester and a burnished British pscyhedelia, follow-up single Shout Louder was a summer indie groove perfect for a festival set.

Lovell now returns with new song Low Lights And Throwback Tunes. Taking his eclectic set of influences and running them through his own unique filter, this uplifting air balloon soars like the best of Gorillaz, The Charlatans or even Utah Saints, while still managing to sound fresh. It’s time to find out all about how it was created…

INSPIRATION

As well as old psych-rock, I’m pretty influenced by late 80s/early 90s baggy psychedelia. I’d been wanting to add a few more electronic elements to the common goldfish sound and this track was one of the first experiments. To be honest, I’m still working out how far I can push this whilst keeping it indie/psychedelia!

I’d heard a number of old-school 90s rave tracks being played out over the summer, a genre which seems to be making a bit of a comeback. Iconic tracks like Danny Breaks’ Far Out and Awesome 3’s Don’t Go just have a timeless quality to them. To me, they unearth an intense feeling of uplifting nostalgia which is what the common goldfish project is all about. Hearing these played at festivals, was the driving inspiration behind the track in general – particularly the piano stabs.

Whilst this was what inspired me, I still wanted to keep the track consistent with my sound. Looking back, I think I actually create the most interesting music when my inspirations and references are quite far from the genre or sound I’m trying to create. That way you leave a lot of room for sonic discovery.

LYRICS

This track was the first time I teamed up with my friend, and lyricist Ned Kilgannon. Ned’s a writer, and he’d sent me some poetry he’d been working on. He has an incredible playfulness with words that is simply a step beyond my capabilities – I can only sit back and appreciate his work! The first line of one poem jumped out at me on reading: Low lights and throwback tunes

I knew instantly that this had to be the foundation of the song. What better way to evoke nostalgic sentiment than throwback tunes? It immediately took me to those moments you share with your mates, when you’re out and about or at an after-party, and that one iconic throwback tune starts blaring out the speakers. Before you know it, everyone’s up and dancing, and there’s an energy flowing through the room.

This was the trigger that meant I had the rest of the chorus in the space of an hour or so.

“You can’t help but feel it in the room, a sense of joy and a freedom inside. It’s enough just to blow your childish mind”

I like the reference to blowing your childish mind. Life can get very serious and so it’s important to channel your inner child at times.

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The bridge vocals, “See how the tiles on the dancefloor rise, it deserves a standing ovation,” were largely taken from Ned’s poem. This is what I mean about his playful imagery.  A dancefloor deserving a standing ovation. Not much to say about the rest of the lyrics; they just felt right in the song.

Common Goldfish

Common Goldfish: “Life can get very serious and so it’s important to channel your inner child at times”

MUSIC

I started making the track in the studio with a mate. We were mucking around with a Roland TR-8 drum machine and having created a cool beat, we layered the ARP sound and the bass stab which can be heard throughout the track using a Jupiter synth plug-in. I then replaced a number of the 808 drum sounds with 90s break samples. I often use these sounds to give my drums a rougher, more psychedelic feel.

As always, once I’m happy with the drum loop I then start to layer the other elements. The piano stabs came pretty quickly, which as mentioned above were inspired by the 90s rave era. I also recorded the wide washed-out guitar chords that can be heard during the verses and knew I had the bare bones of the track.

The vocal sample was a cool addition. This was taken from a 90s rave documentary on YouTube. I washed out and distorted the sample a lot, to add character but not much else. I think it really glues the guitar and the beat together during the intro (and second breakdown).

Funnily enough, the chorus hook was the last piece of the puzzle to come. I knew there was a melody in there that would pull the whole track together but having tried a number of times it finally came to me. It’s pretty high and is a melody line that I can only really sing at the top of my voice. It makes the live set nice and easy…

IN THE STUDIO

This was originally recorded in my home studio. I then re-recorded the piano and vocals at Resident Studios with my friend and engineer Adam McCarter. They have a Yamaha grand piano in Studio 1 at Resident, which added a lot of depth. Fair to say it sounded a bit richer than my MIDI keyboard!

I then did some post-production work with Alex Loring who’s an incredible producer and worked with loads of cool rock and indie bands. We worked on all of the transitions together – I think my favourite is during the bridge when everything strips back but the fill, and then it goes into the vocals, “See how the tiles.” People may not notice or appreciate it, but little moments like this keep songs interesting and worthy of re-listening.

The track was then mixed down by the very talented Danny Trachtenburg, who’s mixed all of my releases to date. I feel for him, as I often send him quite rough stems giving him a lot to do! He always somehow manages to smooth them over, bringing out the key elements whilst retaining the rawness and character of the song.

The track was mastered by Stephen Kelly at Tall Trees Engineering, who made the final version pop.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I think ultimately music is all about what it makes you feel. Life throws up many rules and restrictions and I want Low Lights And Throwback Tunes to make you feel unstoppable and to, “Blow your childish minds!”

Low Lights And Throwback Tunes by common goldfish is out now via Three Sign. Find out more at commongoldfish.co.uk

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