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‘Skinny Kid’ song backstory

How an arrangement for another band became the opening single and lead song for Minutes to Midnight’s concept album ‘After 1989’.

Simone Silvestroni's avatar


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 was published a few months earlier. A few songs featured sketchy electric guitars on their own, with neither rhythm nor structure. I revamped one of those by adding bass, a reference drum track, keyboard parts and sound effects. It became a full-fledged song that bared little resemblance with the original.

The experiment was a success, so we decided to repeat the process for some of the new unpublished compositions. The first one was a rough piece, featuring just a screaming distorted guitar, playing long notes in what appeared to be an undefined verse/chorus layout. In my refactor, I introduced the drums within the chorus, together with a pick-played groovy bass guitar on a different harmonic sequence. It felt like a proper song, with a refined structure where the bass was a hook in itself. The author didn’t agree with me that this was now a brand new version and that we should have shared writing credits.

Despite a 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 the guitar, I rewrote again the piece with a similar bass on a different groove, new piano and synth parts on a reimagined 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, titled Nine Eleven, later morphed into Skinny Kid, the opening single and lead song for my album After 1989.

‘Nine Eleven’ instrumental demo

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.

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

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 for ‘Skinny Kid’

Performed by

  • Dan Ecclestone / vocals
  • Rachel Goodman / vocals
  • Gerald Duchene / guitars
  • Keven Howard Bellamy / backing vocals
  • Simone Silvestroni / bass, drums, piano, synth, sound effects

Credits for ‘Nine Eleven’

Performed by

  • Simone Silvestroni / bass, drums, piano, synth, sound effects
  • Paolo Clementi / guitars, viola


© 2019 Simone Silvestroni.
℗ 2019 Minutes to Midnight (sound recording copyright).

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