London-based songwriter Hugo Valentine walks us through his introspective new single ‘Memories’ – a track built on restrained production and tender melodies.
“‘Memories’ is a song written from a place of nostalgia. It encapsulates the longing of one’s adult self to go back to childhood. This feeling, which I’m sure we have all experienced at one stage or another, happens once we have knowledge of what life is really like, and what it is to be an adult, with the responsibilities and difficulties that are presented. I think the real desire is to return to innocence, to a time where nothing really seemed to matter, when things were easier. Tied in with this is the idea that we might appreciate things more, perhaps see things in a different way, pay more attention. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
“‘Memories’ began life as an electronic dance track I worked on, but through extensive performance of the song as an acoustic track, it reached its current form some time later through various stages of development. This didn’t really stop at the production stage, and the process began in the studio with me sitting down with my producer Henrik Fossum and coming up with how to root the track, initially demoing a variety of different ideas. We eventually tracked drums and bass guitar that same day, and a few days later recorded piano on a beautiful grand piano up in North London. I really wanted the emphasis to be around the piano on this track, a real hark back to my classical and jazz roots and my childhood life as a musician. Somehow having the piano as a focal point really tied in with the meaning and sentiment of the track.”
“The feeling of nostalgia in the lyrics and the idea of going back to childhood are reinforced by the fact that a huge part of my early life was spent playing the piano, and these memories and feelings were really reignited during this session. This hugely informed the piano performance, and was also helped by the fact that we recorded on such a truly beautiful instrument. There is a little video clip from this session below. This whole part of the process really brought a lot of things home for me, and in fact has gone on to be a huge part of the recording process for the songs we have been working on since. The next job was to record the strings, again a real throwback to my time as a classical musician (I played the violin for many years as a child/teenager). Though I have laid down some violin parts for previous records (most notably in my recent single ‘Live Another Day’), I felt I wanted to bring a violinist in for this – my violin skills are not put to much use these days so have become a little rusty! My scoring knowledge seemed to still be lurking somewhere in the depths however which proved handy as this is the way most classical musicians work best (see what I did below). Following this, a few mix/ additional production sessions and a lot of childlike excitement and we had a track.”