Sound Of Kalima

Song Deconstructed: ‘My Best Friend Hates Me’ by Sound Of Kalima

Sound Of Kalima

Sound Of Kalima’s Peter Niewenburg: “Sometimes the key to writing a good song is not a good pen but a good eraser”

Best friends Sal Verma and Peter Niewenburg journey inside this song about what it’s like to hate your best friend

Filtering genres such as pop, indie and hip hop through their own startlingly original hopper, Sal Verma and Peter Niewenburg have been making music together for the last nine years. Outside of their work as Sound of Kalima the duo write and produce songs for other members of the Vancouver music scene such as Andrea Clute, Chris Clute, Dora Kola and Victoria Groff.

2020 saw the pair release a total of 16 songs; the shutting down of the live industry giving something of a boost to their writing discipline. This year already looks like it’ll also be filled with plenty of new music including the single My Best Friend Hates Me. A funky farewell to an old pal (which turns out to be about each other), the song came out of a songwriting course led by the Grammy-nominated artist/writer/producer Charlie Puth, as Sal and Peter explain here…

INSPIRATION

Peter Niewenburg: “The song My Best Friend Hates Me came from a songwriting and production course we took led by Charlie Puth. We were looking to level up our skills and continue to write better songs so figured the course might give us some new ideas. A few days into it, Sal showed me his idea, which I believe was just the main guitar riff and the hook vocals at the time, but it wasn’t until a little later I figured out that part of the inspiration for a song about hating your best friend was me.”

Sal Verma: “Pete said it. Yeah it was inspired by a conversation between Pete and I. I was talking to him one morning via text saying, ‘Oh we should do that and this,’ when I felt that we were lacking somewhere and then I noticed his replies were getting shorter. It was clear that I had just ruined his morning so that’s kind of how the song came about, we love it.” 

PN: “Yeah I think I sent the shrug emoji when I had had enough texting for the morning haha. From there the song spiralled into a song about the moments you dislike someone you love.”

MUSIC

SV: “The music was born out of a riff I just started noodling around on (the one you hear when the song comes in) and I was like, ‘Oh that’s good, it’s recognizable.’ Then eventually I was like, ‘Alright so we’re writing our own version of a pop song – let’s put a catchy verse progression in.’ It took a while to kind of structure out the thing. At first the verse chord progression was longer than it is now but we decided that the song just needs to be immediate and ear-catching at every turn, so we decided to filter down all of our ideas into their most important bits.”

PN: “Yep, we laid down lots of ideas and pared it down quite a bit. Sometimes the key to writing a good song is not a good pen but a good eraser. One of the initial ideas we added that stuck around was the bouncy keys in the pre-chorusy bit (“come onnn, ya ya”). I think it’s a nice change of pace from the guitar and adds some vibrancy or something like that. Also I like to flex on the keys when I can so I’m glad that it ended up working out.”

LYRICS

SV: “Yeah, the inspiration was me feeling like I’d ruined Pete’s day. We had to start the song off by acknowledging that I’m a bastard and that was strong, I thought. You know the whole point of the song is to make it known that even though there’s stress there’s also love, so at the end of each post chorus, it’s all about the love. The second verse, ‘Thank you for all the years but the way you stress me out, I’m really done’ it’s like the moment when you’re just done. Essentially, there’s a lot of pissed off energy in the lyrics. It’s the best way to get that violent energy out besides just punching each other up.”

Sound Of Kalima

Sound Of Kalima’s Sal Verma: “At some point, music is a competition to me. It’s really motivating to think of it like that.”

PN: “Haha! Yeah Sal has punched me in the face once before so I’ll take a song over a punch any day. All love though. Any time you spend a ton of time with someone, frustrations can boil over every now and then. Especially when we’re working on something we’re both so passionate about. In the end we can bicker and battle a little but we haven’t punched each other in years so hey we’re not doing so bad.”

IN THE STUDIO

PN: “The recording came about quite organically as we worked our way through the Puth class. The course was staged so that every few days you had to submit an updated version of your idea with specific progress in mind. So one day we just had to write the instrumental until the first hook. Then we had to write and submit the hook a few days later. And then work backwards to the verse. And then flesh out the production. So through the process we kind of chipped away at the song bit by bit. Eventually we sat down and laid down the final vocals and finishing touches to the prod, but the whole thing came together in about two-three weeks, which for us is a small miracle since normally we take one-two years to finish a frickin chune bruv.”

SV: “Yeah, it takes a long time for some of our songs to come together because we’re working with other artists, producing their songs but this one came together quickly because of the deadline and I was hell-bent on impressing everybody in the Charlie Puth class. At some point, music is a competition to me. It’s really motivating to think of it like that. The recording process was rough; I think I tracked the acoustic guitars maybe three or four times over because either the sound or the performance wasn’t feeling right. The vocals were done about the same time over because from demo to completion, you really begin understanding the songs and the vocals so it’s a longer process. Fun and frustrating at the same time because there’s a time limit. Most of the instrumental was recorded just like a hip hop song, built from the ground up and gotta have an 808.” 

FINAL THOUGHTS

PN: “Thank you so much for reading this and (hopefully) listening to My Best Friend Hates Me. If you liked the chune, you should check out our playlist featuring all the artists we are so lucky to call friends and collaborators. And come say hi on our socials.”

SV: “I hope people get something out of this song, it really is an honest portrayal of a real feeling. I know we aren’t the only ones who have felt this way. Check out the song and we love hearing what people think – let us know.”

My Best Friend Hates Me is out now and you can keep up with Peter and Sal’s adventures over on their Facebook page: facebook.com/soundofkalima/

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