Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Soundtrack artist: Self Animation

Nick Delonas is a friend and colleague from back when we worked at Lotus magazine in the late 1980s.

He sent me a video he made of his daughters' band, Self Animation, with the caveat that I probably wouldn't like it, since I'm not generally one for bluesy rock. I played it for Kevin, writer and/or arranger-performer of most of the original music for Castparty movies, and we both immediately liked it.

The stop-start lyrical rhythms of "Dance in the Fire" evoked vintage progressive rock (a taste Kevin and I share), and Nick's guitar shredding was a novel complement to Molly and Kara's girlish vocals—not your average teen music. And a few months later, we found the song really fired up part of Inventory's climactic sequence.

Nick tells the story of "Dance in the Fire":
I wrote the music to Dance in the Fire in the mid nineties. It was originally titled Bone in Pocket and may well have been the first song ever written about carrying a bone, some teeth and a couple of marbles in your pocket. The first recording was me playing the guitar along with a groove I set up on a drum machine with a synthesized bass. I liked the tune, but the drum machine sounded TOO much like a drum machine for my taste.

So, about five years later, when I was jamming with drummer Jim Rilko and bassist Ricardo Rodriguez in my basement, I asked them to play along with that original recording and recorded them doing so. There was one take with no rehearsal as I recall. So now instead of machines I had the feel of real musicians in the rhythm section. That was better.

Several years after that, two of my daughters, both aged 13 at the time, were starting to write and sing their own songs. I began recording them and slowly but surely, that turned into the project band "Self Animation." At some point, during the next four years of recording what became their first CD, I thought that old blues-rock tune would be good for them. So I pulled out the multi-track recording, re-recorded the rhythm guitar, wrote new lyrics, and recorded them singing it. The result was Dance in the Fire as you hear it in the sound track of Inventory.

The lead guitar on the final recording is the very same track that I recorded nearly 15 years ago playing along with the drum machine. The girls were likely singing songs in preschool at the time. Molly and Kara are now both high-school seniors and occasionally find time to perform as Self Animation.

You can hear more of Self Animation's music at their web site, http://www.selfanimation.com/.

Oh, the lyrics are now:
I wanna dance
in the fire
And yearn to burn
down the floor
Dances at night, boys,
light the fires

I wanna breathe
in white-hot air
And through flickers spin
with each spark's pop
As the pulse pounds
heat rises through us

I dance on light
in a flower
Its petals sing
and cry then bloom
In nectar's stream
life's quick is breathing

Girls like to dance
in the fire
They jump spin and burn
on hardwood floors
Dance then each night, boys
Light them fires

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