Song Deconstructed: ‘All Things Go’ by Mighty Oaks
The multinational indie-folk trio, based in Berlin, talk about the why, how and where behind the making of their new single
Berlin-based indie-folk band Mighty Oaks comprises multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Ian Hooper (United States), Claudio Donzelli (Italy), and Craig Saunders (United Kingdom). After 10 years, two albums, four EPs and countless gigs (including shows with the likes of Kings of Leon and Chvrches), the multinational trio returned this month with a brand new single, All Things Go, and embarked on a series of European dates with The Lumineers.
Here, in their own words, they describe the background to the song, which was taken from their new album due for release in February 2020…
Everything in life comes and goes, as do we all. I lost my mother when I was 25 years old. I was very close to her, and it has been a long and winding road getting to a place of accepting her passing and understanding that it is part of life. I wanted to put that understanding on this album, so I set out to find a way of making it accessible to our listeners, while still being close to me, to my family.
In the song, I speak through my father’s experience. I tell of how he, from Chicago, and my mother, from Dublin, met in Munich by random chance in an elevator. I tell of places that have been vital to both me and my family: Mullingar, Ireland to Gig Harbor, Washington. The lyrics of this song are super-specific to my life, and yet there is a universality to them that I think makes it possible for a home to find their own meaning in the song. I often strive to do that in our songs, because adding specifics makes a song so much more meaningful that one full of generalities.
I totally wrote this song as a piano ballad at my house in Berlin. I sent it to the guys and they loved it. However, it was somehow too straightforward to put a quite melancholic concept to a sad piano track. We were on a writing retreat at a house formerly owned by Berthold Brecht on a lake outside Berlin, and Craig picked up the acoustic and started playing the song in the very rhythmical, palm-mutes way that you hear on the track today. It was such a break from what I had envisioned the song to be, but I immediately fell in love with what he was doing and there was no going back from there. It gave so much more meaning to the lyrics because there was a contrast between them and the music that made the song much more impactful.
In The Studio
We took our initial demo to our producer Nikolai Potthoff and he immediately had these wonderful ideas on how to add soundscapes and textures to the track, ones that we knew were missing but couldn’t bring to fruition ourselves. We kept the initial Elliot Smith-style doubles lead vocals, which were already a new vibe for us. Nikolai and Claudio then went forward in adding shimmering reverbs, spring reverbs, and delay tracks from an old Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo. Nikolai also pushed us out of comfort zones by adding slight bass bombs on the kick to drop the chorus harder, and we pushed him to embrace the organic element of percussion in a track that could have easily gone into a heavier drum beat. We wanted to keep this one light, but grooving.
All Things Go is a super-meaningful song to us all, and we are very proud that it’s the first track off the record. It’s a transition from our more stripped-back folk-rock past to the sound that listeners will discover in the rest of the album – a sound that we are very excited to share with the world in February.
All Things Go is out now. Find out more about the band at mightyoaksmusic.com