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Category: MUSIC PRODUCTION

‘Skinny Kid’ song backstory

How an arrangement for another band became the first single from the concept album "After 1989".

Origin

Back in 2009, I was the bassist for a trio in the Milan area. The band was about to present, in the form of live concerts, a CD that we published a few months earlier. Several songs on the album featured sketchy electric guitars on their own, with no rhythm. I revamped one of those by adding bass, a reference drum track, a few keyboard parts. It became a full-fledged song.

The experiment was a success, so we decided to repeat the process for some of the new compositions. The first one was a rough piece, featuring a screaming distorted guitar, playing long notes in what appeared to be a rough undefined verse/chorus layout. In my arrangement, I introduced the drums within the chorus, together with a pick-played bass guitar. It now felt like a proper song, with a refined structure and a bass part that was a hook in itself.

Despite the fantastic chemistry with the drummer, I parted ways with the band a few weeks later. However, I was smart enough to keep the source files of my complex arrangement.

Nine Eleven

After stripping away all the original guitars, I rewrote the piece with a different groove, similar bass and keyboard parts on a new chord structure. It was a solid backbone for something, and I was excited. Next, was blending in a piano sequence from my years as a composer for video games. Originally written right before 9/11 happened, it fit beautifully. Like most people, I’ve experienced that dreadful day on live television, so I decided to make this new music go along with some of the original live commentaries.

I enhanced the piano progression, added a tom roll in anticipation for the choruses and wrote a guitar solo. Finally, I sampled the audio from the footage shot around the WTC where the events unfolded. The song, then re-titled Nine Eleven, went on to become the first single and lead song for my album After 1989, Skinny Kid.

The two choruses, as shown in **Propellerhead’s Reason** above, had an eerie resemblance with the twin towers
The two choruses, as shown in **Propellerhead’s Reason** above, had an eerie resemblance with the twin towers

About the production

Since I wrote the song during different time frames, it went through a diverse set of software and tools.

  • Piano track recorded using a Yamaha Clavinova on Cubase VST 4.
  • First original arrangement created in Logic Pro 7.
  • First version of Nine Eleven was written with Reason.
  • Refactored as Skinny Kid, produced using Logic Pro X.
  • Piano and drums are from XLN’s Addictive Keys and Addictive Drums.
  • Mixed using a multi-buss template inspired by Michael Brauer’s mix technique.

Demo

Towards Sachsenhausen

I’m in Berlin. After boarding the S-Bahn 1 to Oranienburg, I relive the decades that followed World War II. A few miles away, the concentration camp where my grandfather was held prisoner by the Nazi. It’s not easy to try figuring what his ordeal might have been before he managed to escape in the spring of 1945.

Skinny Kid was the first piece that I turned into a proper song when I refactored my album at the beginning of 2019. I adapted the lyrics I wrote for a different tune — now discarded from the project — and re-arranged the structure for a linear narration. The first version of Nine Eleven lasted 8 minutes and 30 seconds. Skinny Kid is now a 3-minutes song with a standard structure. It’s also a personal statement about simplicity, and a desire to go to the core of things.

Official music video

Review By The Indie Buddie

Skinny Kid is a tender delicate number as Simone expresses emotional and harrowing themes through a bitter, icy piano and tense progressive soundscapes. With a steady beat pounding through weaving guitars and ominous rumble on bass, the track projects images of isolation and loneliness by means of sinister chilling twinkles and tender vocals. The haunting backing vocals and lamenting pines on guitar have a chilling element as Simone portrays this harsh experience with sublime instrumentation and vivid musicianship.

Indie Buddie

📖 Read the album analysis

Credits

Performers

Dan Ecclestone / lead vocals
Rachel Goodman / vocals
Gerald Duchene / guitars
Keven Howard Bellamy / backing vocals
Simone Silvestroni / bass, drums, keyboards

Performers (demo)

Simone Silvestroni / bass, drums, keyboards
Paolo Clementi / guitars, viola

Production

Music, lyrics and production / Simone Silvestroni
Music video / Silvia Maggi
Master / Ian Shepherd
Management / Christopher Carvalho – Unlock Your Sound Ltd