In our new music feature Origins, musicians give fans an inside look at the some of the inspirations behind their latest song. Today, July Talk tell us how they found their “Identical Love”.
“I want to be changed/ I want to be rearranged,” go the first lines on July Talk’s new album, Pray for It. The words set the tone for the whole effort, as the Toronto rock outfit set out to find renewal in rebirth — both for themselves personally and their band’s sound. Both types of restoration are denoted in the LP’s latest single and opening track, “Identical Love”.
Though known for their snarling indie rock, “Identical Love” shows July Talk operating with a gentler touch. Synths beat like a pulse in the chest of someone slowly reaching out to their lover in a profound moment of truth. A glorious sax solo lets you know the risk is worth it, as the lyrics find dual vocalists Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay embracing a major change. “I want to be transformed,” they sing in unison. “As we try to define identical love.”
Take a listen below, followed by July Talk’s detailed explanation of the song’s Origins. Pray for It is due out July 10th, and is now available for pre-order.
A ‘New’ Used Guitar:
The first thread of this song arrived in an AirBnb apartment in Brooklyn. We had gone down to NYC for a week to hang out in the summer of 2018. Spoon and Grizzly Bear were headlining the Prospect Park Bandshell and our dear friend Jon Box had arranged for us to chat with Britt Daniel about the possibility of him producing some tunes for our new record. I remember walking into a guitar shop and seeing a black and white Danelectro on the wall. I had left my little travel acoustic in Toronto in the rush out of the house and so I really needed something to write with (we were neck deep in writing new material at the time). I had always revered those guitars, even though they’re super cheap and can be a bit wonky tuning-wise. I guess it was because there was this band called Army Girls in Toronto around the time we started July Talk and the lead singer, Carmen Elle (also of DIANA), played a Danelectro custom. She was so rock n roll, and got an incredible tone out of it, making me yearn for one every time I saw her play. So I ponied up the $350 and it was mine. I remember hearing a Nirvana story that Krist Novoselic had a habit of buying Kurt a guitar whenever he was too strung out to be bringing new songs to the band. I guess he would immediately write like ten songs, the minute he was holding that new instrument. I agree that something about holding a new guitar in your hands seems to push some inner button in your soul. Opens you up or something…
Sea Major Seven:
For whatever reason, I started finger picking this C Major 7 voicing back at the apartment, and it felt so fluid and inviting. There was something about the summer heat and how the ocean meets the Hudson and the East River and surrounds this giant living, breathing organism of NYC and Brooklyn. The chord seemed to present the energy of that morphing water that surrounds the city, constantly transforming and reinventing itself.
EEN Dorkety (July Talk Guitar Player):
When we got back to Toronto, the lyrics started to form around my experience of the trip. I started playing it on Wurlitzer to expand the chordal movement and sent a recording to EEN (July Talk guitar player and recording guru) of me playing through it, just me and the Wurly. We started talking about a direction to build it out and referenced Todd Terje’s brilliant cover of Robert Palmer’s classic Johnny + Mary, with Bryan Ferry on vocals. I left our rehearsal space that day after sending it to him, and I swear it hadn’t been twelve hours before he sent back this beautiful dance arrangement of the song. All of a sudden there were these pulsing synths and vocal swells, and these heavy tom fills that just took the song into a totally new groove. It was an incredibly inspiring day, I remember screaming in ecstasy as I listened to it for the first time. In hindsight, I think the experience opened up our creative relationship in a way that’s palpable now, so I’m grateful for that.
The Rejection of Standing in the Hetero Normie Life Line:
The lyrics started to form around this one thing… You know you will have to challenge your love if you want it to challenge you back. Your love should change you, surprise and rearrange you. You have to challenge it to become a transformative love that makes those around you feel remarkable and new, like absolutely anything can happen at any time.
The day I came back to the apartment with the guitar, I couldn’t stop singing these words over and over as I strummed the old second hand strings. I love everything about my partner, including the fact she isn’t straight, and this was a time where we had decided it was important to honour that queerness in our relationship. It was a time when we started to realize that the shape of our love could transform in whatever way we wanted it to. It had grown strong enough to be challenged.
An Unplanned Collaboration in the Final Hour:
So, in early 2019, we had finished the majority of the record and we were getting it prepared for mixing. We had finished recording “Identical Love” the previous fall with producer Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck. As much as we loved the version, there was a need to establish more dynamics in the arrangement, as the beat drove through the whole tune and it felt like the song needed a bit more room to breathe. By total coincidence, our friend Maximillian “Twig” Turnbull emailed Leah and I because he had heard we had worked with a mutual friend on an arrangement of another tune on the record. It was a serendipitous moment, as we had revered his work on many projects in Toronto over the years (from U.S. Girls to Badge Epoque Ensemble to Slim Twig) and desperately needed some fresh ears to help finish this song. We sent him the stems and asked if he had any ideas, and he came back with this beautiful, patient arrangement. He brought Dennis Passley in to play a saxophone solo in the bridge and encouraged us to have Leah sing the second verse. A last minute session to execute these changes with him and Graham took the song from a “might-not-make-the-record” tune to the opening track, setting the tone for all the other songs to come. The song went on a hell of a journey, over a year from finger picking three second hand strings to being fully realized in its release today. Sometimes it takes a little longer for a song to find its home I guess.