Album of the Month - September 2018
Stranger Today - Track by Track
Ahead of the release of their debut album, Our Girl's Sophie kindly opened up for the first time about the inspirations, laughs and loves behind Stranger Today.
Our Girl was the first song I ever wrote, the first song we played as a band and the first demo we ever recorded! We recorded it in Brighton with our friends Gus and Kris who play in The Magic Gang. I was quite nervous to hear it after we’d tracked it, and I remember standing in the corridor listening to it play back for the first time, through the wall. I got a twist of excitement in my stomach, and also of relief that I thought it sounded okay. I really wanted to make music, and I’d never heard a song I’d written recorded before so it felt exciting.
Being Around’s a super fun song to play, it always loosens us up/eases us into a set. We had 12 days to record the album, in a beautiful studio called Eve Studios just outside of Manchester. It was amazing, but quite daunting knowing we had so much ahead of us to do, so we started with Being Around to ease us in. Nearer to the end of the studio time when we were adding backing vocals, we all lost the plot a bit and Lauren kept singing ‘being a ram’ instead of being around. Try singing that along to the song, it makes it a lot more fun.
In My Head
This song feels a bit different to the rest of the record. It’s a bit less guitar based - the bass and drums are driving the song the whole way and I feel like the vocals and guitar almost sit on top. It feels good to play! We struggled to finish it and so stopped playing it for ages until one day about a year later, we were in a sound check in Leeds supporting The Japanese House, and we just started playing it without thinking and it finally felt right! It’s been like that ever since. It’s my favourite to play live now!
I Really Like It
This is a happy one! It’s about my girlfriend - I wrote part of it when we were just friends, and part of it after we got together. When I first played it to Josh and Lauren, we all got weirdly teary, and I remember Loz saying that she could tell it was really important for me to write. I think it was! It felt kind of necessary, and really fulfilling and nice to create.
We had a good time recording this one. It’s got a long instrumental section at the end of it that we played round in the live room for ages, thinking we’d just fade it out or cut it off early or something. But Bill (Bill Ryder-Jones who produced the record) then played loads of amazing guitar over the top of it, so we kept the whole thing and just kept layering and layering. We love what he did, it's now our favourite part of the record! It ends with this distortiony explosion noise which Lauren said reminds her of the general feel of being in the studio. Bill and I messed around with a lot of feedback and strange noises, which buried into a song can work super well, but out of context sounds a bit mad. The guitar amps were in a room below the bedrooms, and they were incredibly loud so if you went to bed early, and we stayed up deliriously making noise, then that’s all you could hear for hours reverberating up the stairs, and out of context it sounded pretty creepy.
Two Life has a big noisey outro which we made up in our second ever practice together. I made up the rest of the guitar and vocals on my own in my house in Brighton a few months before, so it was nice for the exciting instrumental part of the song to come together the three of us, almost separate to the rest of it! It sort of took on a new life that way. Bill added some sweet noisey sounds on this one too, mainly created by rubbing a screwdriver on the guitar strings, running through a load of distortion.
Level is one of the oldest songs on the record. I wrote it after an important relationship in my life ended. That change informed a lot of the songs on the record actually. I lived in a big house in Brighton opposite a park called the level, and we had a basement that we called the dungeon because it was so dingy and dark down there. It was great though, we had a kit and a bunch of amps set up, so it was amazing to be able to rehearse and write in there! Most of the people in our house played music so there was almost always some sort of noise coming through the floorboards. I was studying at the time and I remember working in the living room, and running downstairs to the dungeon whenever I had an idea for a song. Level was too scary to play loud when people were in the house though, so I’d wait until everyone had gone out and then play super loud round and round until it became what it is. This song means a lot to me, and it’s one of those ones we never have to practice or think about if we haven’t played it for a while, it just comes very naturally.
This song was written not long after Level. It came out in one go one night! Most of the songs on this record were written at night, it’s a good time to make things up; everything just feels so still and quiet. When we recorded Sub Rosa in the studio, we started with the guitar and vocals live first, and then we added the other instruments. I was exhausted and it was late when I recorded it, which I think suited the song a lot. It also meant that because I was just playing without too much thinking, the song pushes and pulls quite a lot. There are pauses that aren’t necessarily planned or in time, but I remember Josh recorded the bass over it in one go, and got it completely bang on and everyone in the control room went ‘weyooo!!’ at him being a one take wonder. Luckily he couldn’t hear us so I don’t think we put him off.
I Wish It Was Sunday
I Wish It Was Sunday is a real mixed bag of emotions. The title came from the feeling of just needing more down time, and wanting to pause everything that was going on around me and have time to relax and be happy. I was going away a lot around the time I wrote that, lots of things had changed in my life, and I was in a new relationship that I just wanted to be wrapped up in all the time.
This song’s about feeling panicked but trying to stay calm and focused. I feel like that feeling can come in waves - it feels hot and scary and you feel like you can’t get away from it. I’d never had it before this point and it was quite overwhelming. We recorded the song super late one night, and I remember playing and singing in the little booth next to the control room where everyone was sitting (probably falling asleep), and it was dark and the atmosphere was totally right for the song, but I kept messing up! Bill came in and told a really crude joke, which totally loosened me up, and I think we ended up keeping the take I’d done just after that.
Boring was the first Our Girl song Josh and I ever played together! I remember we were in the dungeon one day figuring out an Anna Calvi song together, and then we decided to try Boring. Josh started by making up the bass line in the second verse, which is so melodic and lovely. Soon after that, we met Lauren and started practicing, and she made this awesome tribal sounding beat for the instrumental at the end. I remember being a bit surprised by it and Loz was like ‘trust me, it’s gunna be good’. And I love it so much now! People often say it’s their favourite bit of the song. Because of that instrumental, it’s a super fun song to end the set with. We’ve always ended it that way, we tried once or twice to end with another song and it felt really wrong! So it was a natural choice to have this song close the record.
Our Girl will be performing instore at Rough Trade East (20th August), Rough Trade Bristol (21st August), and Rough Trade Nottingham (23rd August).
LPx2+ - Limited Edition Orange and Black Colored Double LP. Includes 9-Track LP of Bonus Tracks and Demos. First Few Copies Come with a Signed 12x12 Print.
CDx2+ - Includes 9-Track CD of Bonus Tracks and Demos. Limited Copies are Signed.
LP - Standard LP.
CD - Standard CD.
Tape - Standard Cassette.