Writing by Bel Kil
We’ve all been stood up or disappointed by a friend before, this was the essence of my new single Backup Plan, a pensive track that explores the emotions of being disappointed by a friend or loved one who repeatedly stands you up for better plans.
The song came about when I was walking home from the studio on a balmy Friday afternoon, excited to have a beer with a friend, only to receive a text saying he couldn’t make it. I thought, ‘bugger you,’ and before I knew it had sung most of Backup Plan into my voice memos by the time I got home.
I was a lot more focused on guitar and bass tones with this track than in the past. It was nice to take a step away from producing more electronic songs in Ableton and go back to how I used to write with a guitar before I knew how to produce.
I wanted to capture a slower, contemplative, dreamy and slightly psychedelic feel. I started with the guitar chords and built the production around there, using midi drums originally and my guitar as the bass. I added virtual strings, synths and layers of vocals. I played around with panning and effects. I worked backwards, producing the whole track in the box and then overdubbed my friends, Tristan Courtney on bass guitar and John Vassallo on drums, to achieve more of a ‘live feeling’.
In a way, the outro feels climactic and chaotic, but it’s intentionally ordered chaos, the way my head was feeling as I reasoned with myself and didn’t let the disappointment get me down. I wanted it to feel like a journey. The song starts out reflective, but by the time we reach the peak, there’s this epic hopefulness.
For me, I’m a bit more of an “in the moment” kind of person, especially as I have a habit of throwing myself full throttle into projects or things I’m excited or care about. I’m also not one for making plans in advance, I definitely take each day as it comes, which is great in some ways but in the case of Backup Plan, I had been working hard in the studio recording and mixing my EP, neglecting my social life and by the time the weekend came round I was exhausted and counting on that drink with a friend. It was just a little thing, but sometimes it’s the littlest things that count.
There are times I would have let it get me down, but I wasn’t going to this time. Singing the words to this song began as a light-hearted vent. By the second verse, I was drawing from different experiences of a letdown, reflecting on those moments and how we have the power to either feel down about it or turn it around.
We all have those friends who can feel a little flakey, but I think we also need to be giving and patient. A friend may be flakey. However, they’re also an incredible friend in other ways. I think it’s important to take these experiences with a grain of salt. Despite feeling like I was their backup plan at times, the friend who inspired this song is a great person and loyal when it really counts. They’re also a lot of fun and, in some ways, like a sibling to me.
I guess, like any relationship, talking is so important. We all have our flaws; I have plenty, and sometimes we just need that wake-up call or, in my case, writing a song about it to get it off my chest.
I think at the end of the day, we can only be in control of ourselves, and we can either get down about plans changing, or we can try and have a positive outlook on things. Communication is key, and there may be a really good reason a friend bailed, and if there isn’t (in your eyes), then you should definitely talk about it!