Song by song breakdown of The Name Above the Title
I chose this song to start the album and set the tone of the entire project. It basically introduces the album as a whole. The hook explains that I kind of lost my way a little bit, but making this album helped me discover who I really am. I don't have any big blogs or labels behind me as I write this, and I thought that all of this was important to introduce before starting my story. This whole creative process just felt so surreal as it was coming together, and I wanted to capture that.
Travis "Kold Kut" Moore (my producer) and I were digging through old records one day early this past summer and we found this sample. It's an old 80's song that we sped up, and then chopped into different sections. After we made it, I put on my computer and drove around my hometown to write it. I ended up writing the chorus to this song in a Walmart parking lot, and finished the verses in my room. Alex Hall heard the hook, decided to sing over it, and we immediately loved it.
This song is essentially meant to represent the first few years of high school. I feel like that's the first time when you really start to find yourself and make lifelong friends. It's a happy go-lucky song about just being YOU and not having a lot of worries. Everyone's daily routine is different, but it's that routine that shapes you into who you are.
I was going through old records in my room and found the piano sample and showed Greg Barrow (another producer of mine that I lived with in college). He added the jazzy guitar at the beginning and the brass chords a few days later. I initially recorded the bridge to this song before there was any instrumentation behind it so we were a little confused on what to add. I had a keys player named Reuben come in to play real organ and it was magic from the start. He was truly feeling it while playing which made it unique. Finally I had Patrick Harshbarger come and finish it with guitar. This song was one of the more fun ones to make.
I say it in the first line, but this song represents my life from 10th-12th grade. But more specifically, it's about meeting your first girlfriend/love. I think there's always someone from this time that we've lowkey (or highkey) had a thing for. This song is about that time where I felt that feeling.
We sampled the song "Wedding Bell Blues" by The 5th Dimension to make this song. If you go listen to it, you can see what we did. This was actually the last song we made for the album. I came up with the hook one night in my room to another beat that I originally had for the album, but didn't think it was cool enough. I wanted to make a song that metaphorically represented the girl/situation I'm talking about, so that's we set out to do. The same day we made the beat, I wrote my verses, critiqued it the next day, and then knocked it all out.
'All For You' finishes the same story that 'Sounds Like You' started. No longer was I in lust with the girl, but I actually fell in love with her. This song represents being in love.
Conceptually, this is where the album starts to get a little deep/complicated. 'Sound Like You' is about making a song that sounds like the girl I like. This song is a response to that. For instance, when Sara Kays says, "Got a body full of rhythm and music in my head." She's responding to the previous song in a flirty way. 'Sounds Like You' is the song that gave her those feelings, and in this song she's noticing them. This was a song that Sara Kays already had written, and when she played it for me I loved it. So we reworked some of the parts of the original such as a new bridge and it became what it is now.
'Postcard' represents the start of a new chapter in my life: my freshmen and sophomore year in college at DePauw University. I got to college and started engaging in new habits, (i.e. drugs and alcohol). I was no longer with the girl from the previous two songs ('Sounds Like You' and 'All For You'). Rather, this represents the break up. Of course all break-ups are rough, but leaving this situation made me much happier. Hence, why the song is a happy spin on splitting up.
This was actually one of the first songs I made for the album. I made this a long time ago (like late 2015). It's a sample as well, and I'm sure you can figure out what it is haha. Initially, I had two verses and also sang the hook, but I sent it to CallMeKarizma and he laid a verse down for me. After that, I sent it to Spencer Sutherland and he sent me back his hook which truly completed the song. I loved making this song especially because is a story in and of itself.
This song follows 'Postcard' for a conceptual reason. Postcard's catch phrase was "this is my postcard from paradise." So, this song is meant to represent that paradise as it starts off with the slow chimes/choir. The song is almost like a daydream, or when someone tells you to "think of your happy place." This song illustrates the happy place I found myself in throughout my last few years of college.
This song logistically was a nightmare lol. Basically, a guy from my college gave me a beat and I liked it. I wrote the song, and then had a children's choir come in and sing on the chorus. However, I found out that the guy just gave me an instrumental to a song that was already out, so I had no choice but to remake the instrumentation. It was originally me and the children's choir on the hook, but I sent it to Devvon and he blessed it for me. Finally, I was in the studio working on something else and Mark Battles (317 'till I die) came in. I played him a few songs from the record, and he eventually ended up on this on. I started working on this song in April of 2015, and was the second to last song to be finished for TNATT. Long process, but worth it
This song follows the happy-go-lucky spirit of the previous two. This is meant to tell the story of what a night at the bars is like in college. It's about going to the bar a little lonely, your friends leaving you, and then you trying to find someone to go home with. It continues the college theme of the album.
This song came together the quickest out of any of them. I came up with the piano part when I was driving in the car and hummed it in a voice memo. I played the memo for Greg and then he played it on the piano. I had my friend Connor come in to play live trumpet on the song, and then my DJ, Brad (DJ B Smooth), came in to scratch. At first, it was just me on the hook, but Sara Kays sang over and it sounded incredible. This song didn't take more than a few weeks to finish, while others took years.
'Downtime' was the first song I finished for the whole album. Ironically, I finished it at the same time that it's meant to represent in my story. This song is the final episode in my college career. In my senior year I didn't really care about my class load, so when I wasn't doing music I had a lot of downtime. Hence, this song was made in that free time. The song is about dream chasing, and that's exactly what I was doing as a junior/senior in college. I was on the road every weekend, and in class/studio during the week.
I had the idea of this song long before it even became a thing, and I knew the direction I wanted to take it. I had written all the verses/hook to this before any of the music was made. Weirdly enough, my dad and I had gotten in an argument and I left the house and wrote this song in a McDonald's parking lot. The song got started by Greg making the piano loop that continues throughout the song, and then my friend and producer Jacob Goodnight and I programmed the drums. A lot of those drums ended up being cut by another producer, but some still made the final version. I had Connor play live trumpet and Patrick Harshbarger play guitar again.
This song starts the next chapter in my life, Post-Grad. I graduated college this past May, and I kind of got hit with a 'Dose of Reality.' I went from a party atmosphere at school, to living with my mom and dad saving money to finish this album. There were times I remember thinking to myself, "Is all this worth it? What am I even doing here?" So I reflected, and realized I can only worry about things in my control. That's what this song represents.
This song came together in a similar way to 'Downtime.' Greg came up with a piano loop and the sax part that plays throughout. I then took the unfinished song to Travis and he helped with finishing the production for the song. Weirdly enough, I wrote this song while driving to and from the studio. My school to the studio was about an hour and 15 minute drive, so I had a lot of alone time to think and be able to write.
As I said in 'Dose of Reality,' I had to take some time to reflect. This song actually represents that reflection. After I graduated, I had to figure out what I was going to pursue. This song is me looking into a mirror and coming to senses with who I am. I finally came to the conclusion that no matter what I do there will be people that both like and dislike me. But the only thing that matters is that I stay me.
This song was originally a really upbeat piano song. But we had a really hard time finishing it and making it the way wanted to, so we scratched the original idea. We came up with this new idea and I immediately knew this is what my story was missing. One night I had a really hard time sleeping, so I got up and wrote most of this song. It was at like 4 AM. After I recorded my part, we took the original hook and pitched it up and placed it at the end. Then Greg came in and laid down all of the accompaniment parts.
This song is meant to represent maturity. I noticed there were some habits and tendencies I needed to change if I was going to a better person, and I worked through them in this song. I finally found my rhythm. I wasn't worried about what anyone thinks or tries to do to me anymore.
This song was one of the slowest to be finished on the album. I found the sample (Ingrid Michaelson) and sped it up. We had to chop it up to make it have a tempo because her original would fall off time. Greg played most of the instruments in the first part, specifically all bells. Weirdly enough, I wrote this one in a Walmart parking lot as well. After I did those vocals, the last thing we did was add the last part of the song. Hard to believe, but all we did was sample the same song as the first part but in a different way. We took tiny blips of her original song and chopped/spliced them all together. Lastly, Greg played the final piano part and I ran my voice through a vocoder singing the same thing as the hook.
'Night Light' finishes the story and takes us all the way to "release day." It represents the end of one story and the start of another. I had a lot of people questioning my decisions and also had some self-doubt, but this song is overcoming all of that. It's kind of saying, "cheers to the past, and cheers to whatever's next."
I've had this beat for so, so long. Longer than any of the others. I just had never really spent a lot of time working on it. I took a drive at like 1 PM one day to write music and all of the sudden it just hit me. So, I literally stopped on a country road, put my blinking hazards on, and wrote the whole song. After I recorded all of my parts, I brought in Connor to play trumpet and a gospel choir to help bring the song to life even more. The sample part is a pitched up song of Harry Nilsson's fittingly called 'Turn On Your Radio.' Like I said, this song closes this chapter and starts another, can't wait to keep making records that matter like these.
****** Thank you for listening to my story. ******