JUMEAUX Q&A SERIES PART 2 – LIBBY LAVELLA & ANTONIO GAMBALE on THIS WAY FOREVER
First of all, a very happy new year 2012 to you all and welcome to part 2 in our Q&A series on SONGS FOR FLAMEL. In this installment, both members of JUMEAUX have come together to answer a wide range of questions we’ve received about this song. Join us in the comments section below if you have more questions you want to throw at us!
SPOILER ALERT: WELL OBVIOUSLY, WE CAN’T TALK ABOUT HOW THE BOOKS INSPIRED THE SONG WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT THE BOOKS… SO IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE YOUR READING YET, YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO!
Q: How did the idea come about to write a song about the twins?
AG: Well, it was actually a little while after writing Perenelle’s theme, CARRY MY VOICE before we started to talk about writing more songs. As Libby talked about in the last Q&A, at first we only set out to write a theme song for MICHAEL SCOTT’s website for the Flamel series. So from there it was a combination of things – the song turned out to be more popular than we expected, and Michael loved it which was a HUGE compliment for us! Also we just really enjoyed the process of writing together. So, we talked about doing some more songs and the first characters that leapt out at us as inspiration for a song were JOSH and SOPHIE.
As characters, they go through such an enormous development throughout the books series. They’re also a vehicle that MICHAEL SCOTT uses to explore many central themes of the books and wider themes in general – the idea of inseperability and destinies being intertwined, things like that. But there are other dimensions to SOPHIE and JOSH too. Like when they discover their auras and begin to have their powers unleashed, a distance starts to creep in between them. It got us thinking. What happens when you separate the inseperable? What does it feel when the person you’ve always depended on as the rock in your life takes a leap into the unknown and becomes capable of things you never dreamed possible? Will it tear you apart forever? Is it a terrifying thing to be transformed into something new with no way back, or is the really frightening thing to never change and stay the way you are forever? These were some of the questions that the characters of JOSH and SOPHIE raised for us when we started thinking about writing a song about them.
LL: Thanks for this question; I had to think long and hard about it. The truth is there isn’t any rhyme or reason (on my end anyway) why there are songs about one character and not another. So many colourful characters live in this series that it would take us forever to write a song for every one of them, so it was obvious to write about the key characters initially. As Tone describes, the feelings Josh has in the book when Sophie is awakened, paralleled with the feelings Sophie is having about being awakened, create a situation that can only occur in a relationship that is very close. As with love, one can also feel hate more easily in that same relationship. The two are completely intertwined. I find this fascinating and I think Michael Scott did an amazing job of creating a complex psychological undertone in the book between the twins without making it too overstated. It’s a very hard thing to experience two emotions at once, although it is understandable and quite common, but I feel that in modern society it is not completely accepted. For example feeling happiness for your friend who is getting married whilst also feeling jealous that you are not, is complicated, but not unusual, yet hard to manage.
Q: Can you tell us about the lyrics of THIS WAY FOREVER? What was the inspiration behind them and in what way do the lyrics relate to JOSH and SOPHIE?
AG: Libby is more of the lyricist of the group so I’m sure she’ll have a lot more to say about this than me. I’m more the music guy, and also in film music we don’t exactly write a whole lot of lyrics so it’s not exactly my forté! That said, yes we did work on the lyrics together and it was a great learning experience for me. I guess the one thing I’d say is that once we’d made the decision to write the song as a duo, in a “he said” “she said” style, it all flowed easily from there. We both really wanted to explore the idea of two people knowing that no matter what they do, no matter what happens, there is always going to be a connection between them. So a lot of the trading lyrics between the boy and the girl are about this comfort, this reassurance that we’ll always be there for each other. We also wanted to explore the feeling from the story where Josh and Sophie start to be pulled apart. Sophie is awakened first, she undergoes a transformation that she can never undo, and that really inspired us for the lyrics “will I be this way forever?” in the chorus. But it also suggested a really interesting paradox. We see JOSH’s jealousy starting to emerge for the first time ever towards his sister. He sees something new in her (which became another line in our lyrics) and so from his side, he’s also wondering if he’s going to be “this way forever”… but from his perspective he’s scared of the prospect of staying the same old ordinary JOSH. Of being left behind by his sister and never realizing his potential. So basically these were the themes we latched onto in writing the lyrics.
I guess the last thing I’d say about the lyrics before handing over to Libby is that we really wanted to avoid being too literal or specific about the characters and references to the book. By that I mean that yes, it’s inspired by aspects of the relationship of JOSH and SOPHIE and their emotional journey. But it also stands on its own as a song that you can interpret in your own way, to reflect on your own life experiences. And on that note.. over to Libby!
LL: The lyrics have very personal meaning for me. I was adopted, and found out in my teen years (which obviously was just recently ;-)). I had this overwhelming feeling of “who am I?” and “will I be this way forever?” and so on and so forth. It wasn’t that I was unhappy in my family, it was just that there were many things about me that I never understood and after the discovery, there was so much to discover without knowing where to start. So when the twins are introduced to this other side of themselves, well, I can totally relate and it is a large reason why I am so fond of the series.
Q: THIS WAY FOREVER is sung as a duet and the song is about twins. Was this an intentional thing or a coincidence?
AG: Interesting question. It was a little of both. LIBBY is really the singer in the family, she’s the one gifted with the stunning voice and
I’m totally jealous I’m not jealous at all. But since the beginning she’s been adamant that she likes the way my voice complements hers and ordered me to get behind the mic gently convinced me to sing at least some of our songs with her. Either as backing vocals or as a duet in some way, I wasn’t going to get out of it! Anyway, then she made the killer argument: it made perfect sense for us to write THIS WAY FOREVER as a kind of duet, trading lines between each other as a kind of allegory for the twins telling their sides of the story. So that eventually melted away my resistance, because she was of course completely right. Once the lyrics started taking shape, it became obvious that splitting the song into “he said” and “she said” roles really gave us an interesting and satisfying way to explore the themes we wanted to explore about these characters. Also just on a musical level, it turned out to be really nice to weave two voices together, to build up lots of harmonies. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, especially the way the harmonies build up.
LL: Tone is right, I had been harping on at him for years, literally years, to sing a duet with me and after the positive reaction to Carry My Voice it seemed obvious to me that we had to make his voice a part of this project officially. That, and I really like his voice (even though he fought me on this tooth and nail, it took some convincing to get him up to the microphone), and I had a feeling our voices together would create something special. The fact that we are related made me even more curious how they would sound together. As a singer I am really interested in the production of tone, harmony and range, and find it amazing that some voices resonate well together and some don’t. Luckily, I was right. So yes, this was very intentional and I’ve had this intention for many years, well before Michael Scott even thought about writing the series. 😉
Q: I saw on your facebook that one of you lives in LA and the other in Paris. How did you actually get together to write and record your songs? Or did you do it over the internet?
AG: Initially we started writing by talking over skype and sharing ideas. I put down some riff ideas and a few different demo ideas of the starting point for a song and sent them to LIBBY. She kindly told me which ones sucked and which ones didn’t. So, we then ran with the ones that didn’t suck. I put down some basic ideas for melodies that I had, with the first embrionic ideas for lyrics, and we played musical tennis across the Atlantic for a while like that. I sent Libs a guide track, she recorded some ideas on it, we skyped and refined the lyrics and the structure of the song. Then eventually we had the basis of it down. But we both decided that to really finish it off and make the song happen, the best plan was to be together in at least the same country, ideally even in the same studio. So Libby came over to Paris to record. Luckily I happen to work often with the magnificent film composer Nathaniel Méchaly here in Paris. We’ve worked together on many a film score over the years. If you saw TAKEN (the one with Liam Neeson showing everybody who their daddy is), then you know his work. Anyway, he’s a freakin’ genius film composer and it’s a pleasure that I get to work with him. As it happens, Nath was really loving how THIS WAY FOREVER was coming together, he was totally into the groove and vibe of the track while I was working on it at my end in his studio. So basically he was all like – you guys should get together and use the studio during the summer break to record your songs. He said it in french obviously, but that right there was a pretty tight translation of the gist of it. Meanwhile, Libs was running low on shoes and Parisian vintage fashion items, so it was not a hard sell to get her on a plane to come play in the studio for a couple of weeks in Paris in the summer. I mean: Paris. Summer. Hang out and record in a cool studio. Got something better to do? So it was cool, we got to hang out, work together, and we visited a bunch of locations in the Flamel series to get into the mood and soak up the vibes. Good times.
Also (if you’re a music nerd, continue reading if not skip ahead!) it was awesome to record songs with such a fantastic array of gear and instruments. It’s the same gear I’ve used to work on the film scores I’ve done with Nathaniel, but using it to make songs for a change was great fun. On this song we recorded vocals with a stunning vintage U47 mic. And I mean literally vintage – its power supply unit has a special cable made for it because power sockets have changed shape since that mic was made! Also, the Oberheim Xpander, Mini Moog and Pro One synths are classics that I used to read about in magazines as a kid, and we used them a lot in this song. They’re temperamental instruments, they go out of tune all the time and sometimes do weird things, but they make great sounds. You can see us messing around in the studio in our photo gallery if you’re curious.
Later on, when we’d finished recording the song, we asked our friend Andy Page over in London to come on board to do our final mix. If you don’t know what a final mix is, to avoid all confusion let me make it clear that it’s definitely NOT what a DJ does. In case that’s what you were thinking. No, a final mix is when an audio engineer sculpts all of the individual tracks of the song together – the vocals, the guitars, the drums, the synths, the mandolins, the flugel horn.. they polish up all the parts that make up the song and transform it from something that sounds like a sloppy demo into a real, proper song. Actually if you watch our recording sessions in Paris video, you can hear the difference between how a song sounds while it’s being recorded and what it sounds like when it’s fully polished up. Go check it out if you haven’t already.
Anyway, my point is that a good mix by a skilled audio engineer is a crucial thing. So, it was fantastic news for us that Andy liked the song and wanted to work his magic on it. If you don’t know who he is that’s OK, we can help you with that. He was the guy who mixed Alanis Morisette’s album FLAVOURS OF ENTANGLEMENT. He’s also recorded Britney Spears and he even once did a remix of this song you may have heard called “Ray of Light” by this singer you may have heard of called “Madonna”. So it was like, HELLS yeah when he agreed to take on THIS WAY FOREVER! Only the best for fans of Flamel!
LL: Tone has covered this question quite thoroughly, so I’ll just add that none of this would have happened without the following people; Nunzio and Maureen Gambale and Patricia and Cec Churm, who donated mileage points to get me to Paris. Emanuel Georges Pierre who allowed me to stay in his amazing apartment in Montmartre, and to that end, Alex Nahlous who introduced me to Emanuel in the first place. Thank you everybody! It was a dream come true and without your help we couldn’t have accomplished what we did.
Q: What are the lyrics to THIS WAY FOREVER? I plan to sing this at my local singing competition but I fail to find any lyrics online.
AG: This was a question sent in by a fan to LIBBY LAVELLA’s site, she was chuffed to receive it so I’m sure she’ll want to say a big thank you. I know she already sent you a lyric sheet for the song, but I’d really love to know more about you. Where is your song competition being held? We’d love to hear you sing our song, so if it’s recorded or filmed, send it to us and we’ll post it on our blog and share it with everyone, with your permission of course!
I’ll include the lyrics for THIS WAY FOREVER below, but just a word on our lyrics in general: We’re preparing a set of nicely formatted lyric sheets for all of our songs, all in A4 size that will be downloadable and printout-able.
We’ll make them all available on this blog soon They’re available now, included in another post on our blog, so if you’re into lyrics and want to be able to sing along, fire up your printer and go here! We’re also considering the idea of making instrumental versions (aka karaoke versions) of some of our songs available over at our bandcamp and itunes. That way you’ll totally be able to use them as backing tracks for glee club or even to record yourself singing your own version of the song of your choice. Fun times!
Here are the lyrics for THIS WAY FOREVER, and then I’ll hand you over to Libby.
THIS WAY FOREVER
I’m not alone, I look right by my side I find you
You’re not alone, you close your eyes and I’m beside you
And I know, there’s so much light behind the shadows
Will I be this way forever?
This way forever, will I be?
This way forever, will I stay?
This way forever.
You’ve changed, I see something new inside you
It’s so strange, I no longer hear your echo
You leave me here, to watch you rise above the day and night and sun and sky
Will I be this way forever?
This way forever, will we be?
Safe here together, will we stay?
This way forever.
Take me home, I want things back to where they started
Cause I know, you can’t slip away, I’ll always be your shadow.
Will I be this way forever?
Will I be this way forever?
Will I stay this way forever?
This way forever, will we be?
Safe here together, will we stay?
This way forever.
LL: It is quite possibly the highest compliment as a both a singer and a songwriter to receive this kind of request. We’ve had a few of them now and it still makes me infinitely happy. As Tone explained, we’re working on backing tracks for all the songs so everyone can have a go! And yes, yes, yes, please upload all your efforts for us to see and hear.
Q: What were your musical influences for this song?
AG: I think figuring out your musical influences behind one song in particular is a hard thing to pin down. Libby and I both have a list as long as your arm of artists and songs that have influenced us in general. But I think for THIS WAY FOREVER we had some pretty specific ideas. With Perenelle’s theme, CARRY MY VOICE, we wanted to write something in much more of an ambient/cinematic register because we felt that it suited her character. But when we started talking about writing more songs, especially ones about the present-day characters in the books like JOSH and SOPHIE, we felt much more inclined to write in a present-day style for them. I guess you could say that for the historical/mythological characters in the books, we gravitate more towards a dark, moody cinematic sound. Our upcoming song for the MARS ULTOR character, BURY ME DEEP, is an example of this. But for the more contemporary, modern-day characters, we tend to write in a more contemporary, modern-day sound. For me, THIS WAY FOREVER is the kind of song that I imagine JOSH and SOPHIE might have in a playlist on their iPods.
I suppose in a way it’s like a parallel to what Michael Scott does in the Flamel series. In the books, he brilliantly combines the historical/mythological and brings it all together in a completely modern, present-day setting. So, some of our songs are more of a reflection on the ancient mythological world he paints for us, and others are more about the modern world that the story actually takes place in. Hmm. I think I have a tendency to over-intellectualize things. So I’ll hand you over to Libby who I’m sure will be able to give an answer that actually makes sense!
LL: We listened to a lot of Mates Of State and Everything But The Girl and various other duos. That said, I don’t think this songs sounds completely like any of the duos we drew from, I do believe this songs created a new sound and brought about a whole new dimension for Jumeaux. I really love it.
Q: In the casting and out takes video on your vimeo channel with the girl from the THIS WAY FOREVER music video, there is a different version of the song in the background. Where can I get the full length version of this song?
AG: This was a question we got asked in a PM on our facebook, and firstly, thanks for the compliments about that version! I’m really into it too. To tell you the truth, when I was cutting together Linda’s casting/out takes video, I wanted to put some music to it and it was a spur of the moment thing to take the vocals from THIS WAY FOREVER and quickly put together an ambient/orchestral version of the song just as a soundtrack for that video. I’m a huge fan of Imogen Heap (and so is Libby and so should you be too), so I thought it would be nice to try making a version of the song that really featured the vocals up front. I guess I was inspired a little by her amazing track which is in my opinion an all-time classic, HIDE AND SEEK. Anyway, I started out just using the vocals, and then I started playing with some string section and it turned out to work really nicely. I think it will make a great remix of the song. When I get the time I might go back and do a complete version of the song from start to finish in this style. I dunno, what do you think, Libby?
LL: I think it’s a great idea and am all for it. However, I’m more motivated to do new songs, but that is mostly because I don’t really have to do anything for these brilliant remixes, I just sit back and wave my magic wand and wait until Antonio delivers a shiny new version of our work and I smile and feel infinitely proud. I’m really quite a useless diva when you get right down to it.
Q: What are your thoughts on the characters of JOSH and SOPHIE?
AG: I think they’re great characters. I’m no literary expert, but I think I read somewhere once that one of the main roles of the protagonist in a story is to give readers someone to latch on to and identify with. As soon as you start to “feel” who these people are, and get a sense for what they’re up against in the story, well that’s when you become invested in what happens to them. You start to care about them, worry about them, root for them or even sometimes turn against them if they go astray. In the Flamel series as far as I can tell (remember: not a literary expert) there are quite a few characters that you’d put in the category of protagonist. Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel would be protagonists as well, for example. But the brilliant thing about JOSH and SOPHIE is that they’re completely contemporary characters who live in the same real world as we the readers do. Nicholas Flamel is an extraordinary, intriguing lead character. But it’s harder to personally identify with someone who has been immortal since the 13th century because, dunno about you, but I’m pretty sure I’m not immortal. So for me, having JOSH to identify with, seeing him suddenly drawn out of the world we all know into a world where magic really does exist and all of these mythological figures are real, well it totally appealed to my inner-teen. I didn’t grow up in California nor did I have a part-time job in a bookshop, but as a teenager it would have been a dream come true to discover that not only magic was real but that I had kick ass powers waiting to be unleashed. I should probably also own up to the fact that also announce with pride that as a teenager I was a big fantasy and sci-fi nerd, totally into RPGs, D&D included. I even collected D&D figures, had my own set of lucky die and would have gone to gaming conventions if there had been any near where I lived. There, I’ve said it. It feels good to come out. So anyway, somewhere in all of that lies the appeal for me of JOSH. His character is the perfect bridge drawing my inner teen-geek (of whom I am proud) into a world that I always secretly dreamed really was out there. GEEK PRIDE!
LL: OMG! Tone…I had no idea you played D&D….so did I!!!!! But then again, that isn’t very surprising…”the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree mate!”. I have always had a deep (and also sometimes secret) love affair with fantasy and science fiction. Legend is one of my favourite movies to this day, along with Labrinyth and The Dark Crystal. I was obsessed with Piers Anthony and Ann McCaffrey books. When other girls my age were nose down in Judy Blume books, I was obsessed with The Earthsea Trilogy. Thank you for encouraging me to come out too Tone. It does feel really good. Now, what was the question? Oh…Josh and Sophie, right. Well, obvious…Antonio and I are Josh and Sophie….I mean, as if that isn’t obvious. 😉 Seriously, I am amazed at the depth of characters in the series and the brilliant characterization. It really is was my dream as a teenager, to now one day discover I am was magical, having hidden powers and access to warlocks and great sorceresses. It’s no coincidence that Tone and I didn’t feel completely comfortable in our skins as teenagers and at times felt we had to disguise our passions, whereas now we can talk about our interests and hobbies naturally. The teenage years are so unkind, awkward and challenging, figuring out who you are and where you fit in. I think the world that Sophie and Josh are thrown into is appealing on many levels to people of all ages but especially teenagers because often all you want to do is escape, or be someone else.