Monday 19 October 2020

WATCH: Novo Amor - 'I Feel Better'

Just over a couple of weeks until the new Novo Amor record is out... I'd say how over the moon I am about this (because I am) but in a very very exciting turn of events, I've had a stream of it since early September. Madness. In such a bonkers year, doing little other than travelling back and forth on public transport to my (busy and understaffed) retail job and with no gigs on the horizon it takes something special to bring some much needed joy, and having this record two months before release is just the ticket. For the last album, I'd heard and loved a couple of singles and it was more a case of "oh, that new Novo Amor album is out, I should listen to that..." whereas this time I have been eagerly awaiting this for months. To have listened to it many times already, before Ali's almost 3 million (!) monthly listeners on Spotify get the chance, is really exciting. 

Ali just shared I Feel Better, the fifth single to be taken from the record (my favourite is yet to come - you're going to love it) with a video directed by Lisette Donkersloot. The director has shared this quote about the video - "I was inspired by several things. One being a Spanish performance artist and of course the track which I’ve really come to love, but mostly I wanted to capture the idea of recovering from heartbreak and betrayal. This paradoxal feeling where you on the one hand are dying to reconnect/feel affection but simultaneously are equally afraid to let anyone new in due to trust issues and the fear of getting hurt again, so you continue to shut people out and suffer in solitude. In my opinion this represents a universal feeling so I wanted to tell it from a gender fluid point of view. I am super grateful and pleased to have collaborated with Ali, he respected my vision from the get-go and gave me a lot of creative freedom."

When I was thinking about sharing the track to the blog, I came across Ali's post. I intended to pull a quote or two from it, but feel inclined to share the whole passage. It's rare to see an artist opening up so much about the creative process, and the struggles that ensue:

I felt an incredible rush of joy and direction when I initially wrote the piano and chorus melody. At the time it felt like this song would define the album, which hadn’t been written yet. I thought it would set the tone for a more positive and joyous step forward, but months down the line the record grew this backbone of indecision, jumping from feelings of self-affirmation to self-pity, from joy and celebration to feelings of boredom and anxiety. It’s not something I really wanted, but those feelings naturally manifested themselves within what I was creating. I think that spectrum of emotion appropriately mirrors how it feels to make an album, at least for me anyway. It’s a mess and can cause a lot of grief. It gives you life, then drags it back out of you. It gives you happiness, the best days, the worst days, and makes you question your purpose and abilities. These words feel unnecessarily dramatic when describing nine months of just making music, but hey, that’s how it feels. 

By the end of the album recording, the song felt like an outlier, another one of these ideas that didn’t really need to be heard. I’d worked on it too much. It felt like I was making it worse with every day of recording. It felt like the album had shifted too far away from this uplifting piano line that I’d gotten excited about months before. So, I was ready to throw it away until my friend and collaborator Ed Tullett stopped me. He gave me encouragement to at least see it though and try to make something we could be happy with. I think he (thankfully) saw more importance in this song being on the album than I did. Like most of the other tracks on the record, we worked on it together and it’s a much better record because of it. The song, while still feeling like a bit of an outlier, actually came to represent so much of what this record is for me, this range of emotion and indecision, the building up and tearing down of ideas, this clash of happiness and sadness and affirmation from others. As the song sings - “just tell me that it’s alright and I'll be fine”.
The new record Cannot Be, Whatsoever is due for release on 6th Nov - pre-order here.

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