The Story Behind “Burst”

“Burst” was released to the world as a music video yesterday – this song is very near to my heart and I’ve been feeling super vulnerable for the last two weeks gearing up for it.

I wrote this song when I was at my most raw and I wanted to capture what was going on inside my head.

During the worst parts of my depression I noticed there were two distinct “inner dialogs” going on.  One was sort of an over-perky cheerleader – “You can do it!  This won’t last forever!” and the other was over it and ready to call it quits – “Why bother?  This is just what life is.  No one will even miss you.”

They ended up balancing each other out most days – on raw, awful days the dark voice was stronger.  On good days when I could function better the light voice was stronger.  And one day after another that was what my life was like until the depression started to lift.  (Yay therapy!)

Since the album, Tectonic, was capturing this whole journey we’d been on since my world exploded I wanted to somehow capture this picture of my day-to-day.

Two voices – but not a duet.  That was important.  Because they weren’t working as a team.  In fact, most of the time it didn’t feel like those two voices were even aware of each other.

Not a duet – but two voices.  So I got the idea of composing a single piece of instrumental music, then writing two different songs with it – performing them both at the same time.

But how in the hell am I going to do that?  Immediately my virgo-composer-music theory brain went into overdrive.  I had to stop myself.  If this was really going to sound the way it did in my head I had to take my well-trained-brain out of the picture.

I knew having two songs at once was going to be a lot to listen to – so the instrumental part had to stay pretty simple.  I found a chord progression that captured the mood and left it rather repetitive – changing from section to section by changing octaves instead of breaking up the rhythm or modulating keys.

I did a home recording of the piano part and then used that as my structure.  I wrote the dark voice first fitting it into the piano part without changing it.  It wrote itself very quickly.  The lyrics and melody practically flew out of me.  I recorded each bit immediately as it came – barely taking time to even write down the lyrics.

The dark voice probably wrote itself in about 10 minutes.  As soon as I clicked “save” slammed my laptop shut and got up from the piano.  When I write quickly like that I tend to do it in a bit of a daze – so my natural tendency is to then put whatever home recording I’ve made (sometimes just voice memo on my phone) on repeat until I “know” the song.

But if this experiment was going to work I couldn’t know that song at all. In fact, I had to forget it completely.

So I ran in place for a second and then turned on a movie and started washing dishes.   I straightened up a bit and sang along to the music in the movie and basically just messed around for about an hour.

Then I turned everything off and stood totally silently and tried to remember the song I just wrote.  I tried to even hum the melody.  And I couldn’t I had no recollection of how it went.


I went back to the recording and muted the first voice leaving just the piano part.  I concentrated on the positive voice in my head – got out my paper and pencil – and turned the piano part on again by itself.

Again – this voice came out very quickly.  I ended up second guessing myself more on this one because the positive voice came out sometimes sounding what I would consider “cheesy” or “cliche” but – it was what it was.

I also recorded this voice section by section as they came – not really giving myself a ton of time to stew on each bit.

When I was done (SAVE) I took a breath.  I got a cup of tea.  My gut said this was going to sound like a disaster, but it was honest and raw.  I unmuted all the voices and hit “play”.

Holy crap.

Not only did it work – it actually sounded EXACTLY like what was going on in my head.  I immediately started bawling.  Like, ugly-crying.  Like, super sobs.  I was exhausted.  I filmed a quick video for my Patrons and then immediately went and laid down.

That was all I had in me that day.

For the album we traced my footsteps and built the song the exact same way.  (My home recording was too low-quality to use)  I recorded the piano part first, then the dark voice, then the light.

Mike fell in love with this song the first time I sent it to him as a crappy home recording.  I didn’t have a name for it and asked him to do the honors.   He named it “Burst”. He still says it’s his favorite song on the album – and he doesn’t even play on it.

I am so freaking thrilled at how Richard Spagnola, our engineer and co-producer for Tectonic, ended up moving the two voices front and back – side to side.  He really took the whole song to a new level that I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own.

And then Ryan Klassa took it one step further and came up with the concept, shot AND edited this gorgeous music video.

Everything you do takes a village, people.  Especially climbing out of depression.

So that’s the story – I’d love to hear what you think!


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