Mike Hadreas has been making music under the name Perfume Genius since 2008. In May 2017, he put out his fourth album, No Shape to widespread critical acclaim. In this episode, Mike breaks down the song Slip Away. I also spoke with producer Blake Mills, who also plays on the track, and recording engineer Shawn Everett about the unusual way the song was recorded.
For more, visit songexploder.net/perfume-genius
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Listening to some exploiter, where musicians take apart their songs and piece by piece tell the story of how they were made. My name is
Rishikesh. Your way
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MIKE Hadrian's has been making music under the name, perfume genius, since two thousand aim in may,
two thousand seventeen he put out his fourth out no shape to widespread critical acclaim in this episode, MIKE breaks down the song slip away, ass, a spy
with producer blake males, who also plays on the track, and
recording, engineer sean ever it about the unusual way the sun was recorded
this perfume genius on song exploded athletes and carry about its make from perfume genius. Before I wrote
slip away. I was writing very different songs for about a month as running really dark wordless.
Chanting overrun drones and they were very kind
form less and creepy the last
was more of an electronic like
in tongues. At least that was the subway enjoyed performing the most. So I thought when alleges to that for forty five minutes.
and then suddenly. One day I made this on, there was the keyboard. First, I had em a keeper, some kind of like
Jam right and have worked yet has just a moaning, but it was much pop here have like a chorus and that felt more.
the direction ass to go, and it was felt way, infinitely more exciting and even strangely, more uncomfortable and challenging than other concrete you're supposed to make.
It wasn't purely intuitive. I like thought about the court
so it card to go to next. I thought about having a bridge and, of course, and I used to think those cancel out the spirit if I
worked too hard. I always thought the emotion would be lost, but
that kind of changed army with writing this album and I felt like a enhanced the soul of It- are the work
Putting into mapping the actual structure arrangement out
it's funny, because the demos called band
because I am I know now. I wrote this imagining the sort of lake stadium anthem,
a new eventually when it wants to be prepared exactly like that and to have
you know the instruments be a little more subversive than just a straight up rock cut,
the song to sound american- and I want
the language to be mine, but be weirdly universal, unlike classic american pop song way, a kind of one of that sort of springsteen spirit. To like a lot of
like a rock dude that just like here's, my big fat, album, it's amazing and then
gas is we left? They don't need it
explain, nobody's asking them questions about like their home life or anything there. Just like you're, a genius. We love it, there's
specific kind of confidence to it in sway
here too it that I feel is far from being so. It felt kind of thrilling to steal some of it by producer,
I sent him all my demos and he sent me back pages of notes that were really thought fallen. Exciting I could just tell before we even
broken that he understood the spirit of that. My name is blake mills and I produced and performed on the perfume genius record
the demo for slip away it to me. It sounded like you know
in writing this song from a place of guitar based music like bruce Springsteen,
but even though the pattern felt like a guitar figure, it had a
a kind of lopsided next to it whims
when is played on on keys and everything's. All down strokes like that it doesn't
sound as smooth as guitar, but I like the idea,
if it not just reading,
I got rock n roll song
and so we are trying to find an instrument to play on that was sort of identifiable that was removed from the family of guitars. That's a level.
the reason why we worked in studio. We did, as I was just filled with instruments,
had never seen before or heard
from all over the place, and so it felt like a magical is like em
fantasy movie. When you go to like an old book store and pick up an old book you'd like actually go into a different world when you open it is that kind of field being
and in that room.
Tracking in never been used on an record before it was a sin
Collecting dust turned out to be this weird
guitar shaped bearer,
Molly. It's like a sea
piece of metal times and view strike them in the sense of this particular one hand
pick up in it, so you could plug it into an app
the bureau plugged into
rolling jazz chorus, the to speak.
In the end, there modulating the signal back and forth both employment and pitch. We might be
camp in stereos, so that we could then
send one of those speakers all the way to the left side when others, because only to the right searches widens dead,
underwater chorus effect, the verse
a series of algorithms and it goes to guitar that is tuned down and I'm,
tapping, the string, some hitting it lee instead of strumming it just sort of this progressive way of playing guitar with
That's a very like blake mills say that your thing, I don't know how you fucking shit, that there's a technique to it to get it to not have a defined a tack needed to just be this kind of his little clouds of notes that happen and kind of like a slow, strobe effect,
I think, he's the only one that can play in that way.
You know this song could easily have gone forlorn band rock and roll
and I wanted all of it to be prepared in a more subversive way. I think,
We wanted to stick a little knife and every little thing services.
Is a little bit off. I think that that communicates
spirit a lot more. I think something is too beautiful or too kind and gentle her sweet. It becomes background music and I feel like if there's a little bit of dissidents.
It makes everything more, lasting and even enhances the joy it was so.
foreign press, to create a world. What that does too
empower mike and the things that he writes about and his interpretations of this world and his experiences in
swirled trying to remove the sense
familiarity every so often
I just feel like helps to keep
seeming kind of magical. This song, it sort of
joyous in free in a way that I had never written before and it
Almost confusing efforts and came out very easily, I can tell those good or not.
It was very for it.
Can I do this? Is this me is good. Our people gonna want I'll, listen to it
Think that's part of the reason why I felt scary to share and felt more m uncomfortable than all the darker things is because it was truly how I was feeling in the moon,
pretty baby. It's about
love and like physical, oven, spiritual.
Love in the face of other people telling
what's wrong or not natural or not all right or
You know, even in defiance in rebellion against yourself thinking, you're, not capable
that are worthy of it and just a lot,
being so powerful and in real and true that it can't be shaken,
broken by by any of those things.
I had been getting shit for being gay before before.
kiss anyone. I had been told repeatedly that
There's something wrong with me in that new. I want to kiss that makes me bad. Those people telling you this day
eventually translate into you. You keep it with you, mister
bring it to yourself. I didn't work
ashamed of myself in tow.
So tell me I should be, but that's why I felt like ghosts.
for me to write the song and write more songs with that essence to it you know maybe
not fully. There haven't shaken all of it.
that's what I need instead of firm other things. There is writing before.
As the last one was very angry and was very much singing at those people out. Whatever my oppressors are, you know is directed at them,
And these sons are more for me and for my family,
my friends in the people that are already listening. I dont really care about convincing anyone else anymore or
Changing their minds, I just feel more.
Just the right now and existing on my own and with it
We went out and a happier way released
here too. It should definitely love song about this,
I've heard of eight years, so yeah
for sure it's all of them.
It's one I wish I were heard when I was young. You know, because that kind of I write brown then wait for me right for me when I was twelve
I write for other twelve ruled that need you know. I mean it.
my song, but I try to carry a bunch of
when people with me when I raining Alan is mike's boyfriend, an collaborator and piano player in life, banned there like an old married couple,
Your alan's, been around MIKE he's, probably like out of all of us, he's probably makes biggest fan, but he's had such an exposure to mike that he's like he is.
With any new any bullshit so like we were all I ask, is amazing and islands like how know about that. If I buy it on this line, you know it's a
so he was like the voice of reason a lot of times and, and I think, really pushed to get the best out of MIKE
Every man is ireland,
a lot of rules and stuff in ways that I treat my voice at home certain eat.
use that are used in certain parts of my
I said, aren't like so much better.
I go in the studio tried a kind of shapes, some of that off those.
All sort of bullshit rules, anyways
a kind of rely on my boyfriend. For some of that too, to keep me in check, I don't ever want to make stuff or treat my voice. I don't want to be
fraid of aid or try to make it sound like something. It's not. You know I dont want to try to cover up any of the breaks in my voice.
every single day. One point me buddy and carry burns
my name shall never it, and I recorded and mixed the perfume genius record we recorded most
The record on this by normal head norman microphone. It looks
if you like, a human head lake,
whole torso and head and the microphones were placed in the
here's the man again and I believe as like that consistency and weight of a human head and mathematically built
represents the way sound
moves around a human head. I should have recorded this
In our view on the ban on my head right now in front of the head now, I'm to the side of the head. Now I'm whispering behind the head,
am. I sprang into the ear now, I'm whispering into another ear,
I just kind of gotten it and then the perfume genius thing started and when I was talking to blake about it
you really want to create different worlds and explore a different kind of side territory and just imagine as a special field of like where
are you- are in this kind of wild places that make exists.
So I was I've only got bring his head. I just got his head
and then I brought
down and then immediately when we started using. It ended think it is almost every instrument on the record we just use,
To be honest, the moon was kind of off putting because it made my vocal some increase,
but clear and very proud
sent in the mix and
the headphones. It sounds like I'm singing in the center, sometimes of your head of the lake, the listeners head just so,
oh clear, which is took some getting
used to, but I I knew it helped communicate the songs more
oh yes, sir reverb are sounding a little more distant, are having me
mystery around my voice, so that was a new thing for me to be so present, and I think that the dummy compounded
because it's almost like, I was singing directly to someone, but I eventual
one in some more coral, a beautiful parts to it- some
the more dreamy in official the weather,
to say, they'll never break the shape. We take that such a poetic way to talk
about a relationship is in these two pieces that create one shape, that that is the form and that you protect one another. For the sake of this thing that do both make,
that you can't have, without the other, it's actually a thumbtack piano in the regular piano. But if you open it up
doctors, their little thumbtack so when they hit the strings, has a harsher more like harpsichord, like some
The whole idea of the song is that the universe got so big and so beautiful it kind of when all the
we back around to breaking to the point,
kind of dissolves in that's. Where something
can a distant creeps in, thank think because being able to get that sort of free,
I'm enjoying laughing and then you're like snap back into reality or your version of it. That's not as kind and I think that sounds a lot about kind of stealing those moments when they come up and reacting icing to my sacred, even if they only last for two and a half minutes when I first heard that first big break at the song where everything is turned off two hundred and eleven and everything comes on. It was a really great moment. I,
I mean Alan sort of terry I'd. I wrote a lot of love songs about early september, because so many signs of or are about the beginning of love early young love- and I
to write some music that the second
a beautiful it in sacred love can be that's been around for longer than maybe doesn't seem as dramatic, but has just as powerful and worthy.
Dramatize hitting. Does it so easy, the longer you're? With someone in the more?
Mr consists get better to take it off for granted its not aiming nature. To be grateful, unfortunately,
I wish it was by my brain- is just too quick that I'm I'm never really.
fully caught up with, what's happening, always like twenty minutes ahead of myself, so I
Trying to make myself be more in the moment, be more patient kind.
about some of the more magical things that are happening, that maybe I don't pay close enough attention to and now
her slip away by perfume genius in its entirety, because it seems to me an caravan sat down and carried it. Take.
visit song exploded dot net for link.
To buy this track and to learn more about perfume genius and to watch
slip away. Music video. This happened
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I think we essentially just started there just to get the juices flowing
sorry, I just said juices flowing they went up
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Transcript generated on 2022-06-07.