I know there’s nothing worse than an artist banging on about their work, so please, just listen to the song if you don’t want to know the ins and outs!
But if you are interested in how I made it, I’m happy to describe my process as I’m learning all the time. Basically, it’s the product of me working out my USP’s (unique selling points) which I guess are a love of dance music, a voice that sounds a bit like a satnav (due to years of voiceover work), and the ability to play the violin. I’ve also worked with refugee and asylum seeker support networks, and through that work have met many amazing singers. And in particular, Nelson Gomez who came to some music workshops at St Augustine’s support network in Halifax and then performed at the Howard Assembly Room’s first Theatre of Sanctuary Open Mic night back in October 2021.
So an idea came to me for a song that would be a nod to how funny it is when your satnav says “Arrived!” when you’ve arrived somewhere that you already know. And then I broadened it into trying to capture that lovely feeling when you arrive into a party or club and your friends are there, some great music’s playing and you know you don’t have to be anywhere else for a while, and you can just enjoy yourself. So that led to the warm washy synth chords and whooshy noises. And I felt like throwing in a ‘Mind the Gap’ which I always think is rather a nice, and very British, caring kind of statement.
I also knew that having Nelson singing from the perspective of someone who has gained refugee status in the UK would give it that double meaning of how people feel when they arrive somewhere safe – something that I think we don’t always appreciate we’re so lucky to have.
So I started by using the letters in the name of the song to define the bassline, which in ‘Arrived’ are A, E and D. I imagined the song as a journey starting in the minor key, but then brightening into the major, so it starts in A minor with some rain noise in the background, and then later the main chords reappear now in A major, the rain has stopped and the birds are singing. Then when I shared it to my dance music course colleagues (big shout out to Altar Studios, especially Alex and Rick who taught me all I know about dance music), lots of them got a real train vibe from it, which I hadn’t realised. So I added in a lovely Amtrak train noise (they’re much nicer than UK train horns, and it gives it bit of a Jim Jarmusch Strangers on a Train vibe), and added some live strings which is me overdubbing myself which is quite hard to get in tune – you don’t realise how much you adapt your tuning to everyone else when you’re playing live.
Having shared where I was up to with Nelson in Soundtrap (a great music collaborating app), he went away and came up with the most beautiful lyrics – ‘You are free, free to dance, free to smile’ with harmonies, recorded into his phone with an external mic. He also repeated the spoken words ‘You have arrived at your destination’ in his lovely radio voice (he was a DJ on the radio back in El Salvador).
And it was all put together in Reaper, using some sounds from the Helm plugin and various free samples. So we hope you like it. Thanks for reading / listening.
And we believe in sharing music so if anyone would like to remix it, we would love that. Here are the stems for anyone to download and use.
You can download the full track here
And here’s an article from St. Augustine’s newsletter about our song with some more words from Nelson