6 Records That Shaped The New Kyle Falconer Album - Part 2
Updated: Apr 21, 2021
Kyle Falconer is a solo singer-songwriter and founding member of Mercury Prize-nominated band The View. No Love Songs For Laura, featuring the singles 'Laura' and 'Stress Ball' is available to pre-order now on the official Kyle Falconer store. Last week we dived deep into the first trio of records that informed and influenced the studio sessions of Kyle's latest album. In the second instalment of this exclusive interview, we present the final three.
4) Come On Over - Shania Twain (1997)
This is one of my favourite albums from when I was a kid. It was out in 1997 but this hit the UK in maybe 1998. I’ve got older sisters and they’re both singers so they always got me into music like that. Being away from The View I felt like I was able to start writing more ballady songs like 'From This Moment On' which is just the greatest song. I actually covered 'Black Eyes, Blue Tears' on this covers thing I did (Almost Pleasant EP - 2019).
It's always been an album I loved that you don’t get the chance to play when you’re on the tour bus in The View. I’ve written a song called 'Don't Call Me Baby' which is in a country vein. When I met Frankie (Siragusa - producer) we’d only ever talked a couple of times on the phone. We sat down and had a drink and I said "what do you like?" and he said Shania Twain and I was like "yeah, let’s get that on!" So having a mutual love for her was a cool thing. I thought "oh, I’m in the right place here" because it was a bit nerve-racking thinking he’s come all the way here, I've paid in advance and it might not be the right guy for the job, but he ended up being great.
TM: When you identify that you’re both fans of Shania Twain, then you can both reference points of that record that you would like to bring to the project. Does talking about a record that you both love and appreciate make it easier to translate what you want to bring to it?
Yeah definitely, we had funny wee things when I'd say "we want to Shania Twain this up" and he’d go "OK Dude I know what you mean". We did a song called 'Mother' on the album which is kind of slow but when he asked “how are you feeling with this song?” I said I wanted it to be a Shania Twain 'From This Moment On' kind of thing. Not a lot of drums - completely stripped back - and all about the voice and he was like "gotcha!". I could just leave him for a few hours and play acoustic and then I came back and it was all atmospheric. Stevie 'Ando' (Anderson) from Dundee actually played the acoustic and then we got some timpani drums on and that was all from the love of Shania Twain.
It's just great when you meet people and they admit they're into Shania Twain. Especially in this day and age, guys find it hard to admit, especially when it’s a rock band. It’s like "come on guys, if you’re into anything, you’ve got to admit you're into this."
TM: There’s a thing about great pop music where, as the years go by, the classic pop starts sounding even better than when it came out. People want to be cool and want to say they don’t like pop but Shania Twain is a name where you can’t argue with that quality of production and level of success.
Yeah man, totally. I’m a big fan of Mutt Lange, her producer and her old husband. He did all the Bryan Adams stuff and that was a thing in school as well. You were into Oasis and The Beatles and The Stone Roses. If you were out on Friday night with a bottle of cider and you drop some Bryan Adams everyone's "oh no!" and I’d be like "no, he’s good!" and they’re like "get out! You’re not in the circle anymore." But I still like him, so...
2) Don't Believe The Truth - Oasis (2005)
This is not my favourite Oasis album, but I think that there's a lot of stuff here in the guitars. It’s not as Oasisy, as it was more compressed. I think this album’s sounds more Americanised than their other ones - it’s not as British - and when I was saying I wanted my record to be rocky and funky but not too rocky, Don't Believe The Truth was the one we were listening to. 'Lyla' and stuff like that.
I remember when that album came out being quite disappointed with it. I thought 'The Importance Of Being Idle' was an important song for Oasis and was a great tune. I did still love that album, it was just one of my least favourites. And yet I keep going back to it as references. The guitars are softer. When Noel’s usually a big "dum dum dum" here it’s a "ding ding ding", so when we used electric guitars they were always in the background.
TM: It's similar to you and The View in some senses: when a band is so defined by a sound, that represents them. Obviously, with Oasis it's a big wall of power chords so when they go out on limb and do sometimes different, sometimes it takes a few years to appreciate it. You mentioned 'Lyla' - I can hear how on hear on 'Stress Ball' it’s a pop sound but you have the guitar present in there. Can you see similarities between what they were doing on 'Lyla' and what you’re doing on 'Stress Ball?'
Yeah, I don’t even think we put that through an amp. I think it was straight into the DI’s. Normally it would be <Does Amp Feedback Sound>, the amp would be squealing and it would be hard to differentiate or define any note. It’s a lot cleaner, that is the kind of vibe.
Whenever I would tell Frankie a reference he would go "oh, I've got ya!". It’s not like someone where they would just go "OK I’ve got ya!" then do whatever they want; he’s like the greatest musician I’ve ever worked with. It's funny because of all of the top producers I’ve used, Youth, Owen Morris, all these great guys are brilliant, outstanding. But I think Frankie being a similar age to me - I’m 33, he’s 38 - I’ve never really worked with somebody where it felt more like working with your with a brother. You know when someone’s a wee bit older than you, you've got elder respect. Even though you’ve been in the business for years, you still feel like you’ve got to pay them respect and you can’t speak out of turn cos they’re the guru.
With Frankie it made it more free and it wasn’t like there were rules with other studios. I remember with some producers there was no drinking in the studio. I was like "but I’ve just paid you 50 grand!"
TM: If you’re making a The View record with Youth you’re making a Youth Record or at least Youth’s making a Youth Record with The View. Do you feel with Frankie, you and Frankie were now making a Kyle record? Yes. That’s what it was! We were both the band. On the No Thank You album (2018) I played everything on it. Absolutely everything. I wanted to do a McCartney thing. Just a bit of self-obsession and once you get that out of the way you’re like "why did I do that!?" It could have been so much groovier. So I specifically said, "Frankie, what do you play, what are you great at?" He said, "I play everything dude, whatever you want me to play I’ll do it!" Some of the drums we’d play in five takes. Even one fill it would be played five different times but it would be five different hits at the same time. That’s what gives it that sound. Rather than just putting a wee bit of delay on it. It was just cool. I’ve never done that before. It was just awesome man, I loved it.
3) Record Collection - Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. (2010)
I’m actually on this Mark Ronson album - this was great times! I toured this for about five years in total and it was pretty good because I only had to do the one song! When I met Alex Greenwald from Phantom Planet he used to tour with this band as well so that’s where I met them. So we co-wrote a few songs but only one of them got on the album.
That was a bit deal for me, all the synths and stuff with Mark Ronson. Alex taught me all about the synths so when I met Frankie there were a lot of references about songs on this record. I said I wanted to use those kinds of synths like on this record; it was Mike Snow and this album where I got all the synth sounds.
TM: When you say it was the Mark Ronson band approach to the synths, is that a thing in terms of the way that synths are modelled or an approach to recording them? What was it about the synths that were different from what you’d done before?
Well, because they were lead synths. I would play the guitar on stage and there was a couple of guitarists, Mark plays the guitar sometimes. But it wasn’t guitar-led so we did things with synths that influenced what I wanted to do on a couple of songs. Total like 80s vibe <mimics synth> It was all based on 80s cheesy synths with big drum pads so I was putting the videos on and saying to Frankie "I've never used a synth in my life until I met Alex, I want to use THESE ones". Because he’s an actual tech-head he was like "OK I need to find out what they are". So we were googling the videos and he was zooming in. But then we found out that all of Mark's cases are just actual cases and different inside the box!
But that was another thing - using a synth for the bass. So what I would normally do is play the bass and sometimes we’ll do sub-bass on it like a low synth. But here we lead the tracks with just synth bass and never used the actual bass guitar. That all derived from listening to this.
TM: There's that thing we keep hitting on. There's chart music from the 60s - guitar, bass, drums and organ - then there’s a time in the 80s where everything goes very electronic and very synth. And now it feels like over the last 20 years there’s this attempt to take the best of both. And that relates back to the Mark Ronson stuff. In Amy Winehouse production, the brass is very retro and some of the touchpoints are very modern and it does make you think as a listener "how is this updated? How has this kept its authenticity?" We’ve heard 'Stress Ball' and 'Laura'. where else does the album go? Is it generally a similar vein or do we go to different extremes and different lights and shades?
So the next song - I don't know if I’m allowed to say what it’s called but it’s the next single - it's the most different song I’ve ever done and I think people are going to be like "oh what’s going on here, wait a minute" or they might be like "wow, this is great!"
Either way, there’s going to be a bit of shock after it because every friend I’ve shown it to has said "woah - that’s totally RnB", so let’s call it RnB!
As you were saying you’ve got all these different sound from the 60s and 80s and you put them all together. I think that with this album, once you hear it all the way through, you'll hear the first few songs and say ‘they’re completely different, that’s mad". But then when you hear all thirteen of them, the sounds start recurring and they’ll be references to the second song. That’s what I like to do. There’s a lot of songs where I’ll try and make it out like it’s about one thing, but it’s about something else.
TM: The song as a concept is something they talk about a lot in hip hop - you have one song and its narrative is built on a recurring metaphor or theme. The meta idea of the song referencing itself.
It's always been something I’ve been addicted to in writing because I learned it through Neil Finn from Crowded House. And Del Amitri. I used to listen to them when I was a kid. They were my two bands. I always loved The Beatles and Oasis but there are also bands that always last like Del Amitri. I remember when he goes "You were the last to know..." I went "WHAT?! OH!"
I’ve done that in this album where there are a few relations between the songs. I’ll drop it at the end. I’ve just always wanted to just send listeners a wee Easter egg.
No Love Songs For Laura is available to pre-order now on the official Kyle Falconer store. All instruments are played by Kyle Falconer and album producer, Frankie Siragusa. Everyone who pre-orders the new album will automatically receive access to regular and exclusive Making Music content from Kyle. Look out for our latest Kyle Falconer Making Music Update this Monday 19th April!