Singled Out: Vajra
I thought this song was going to be the simplest song on the album, and it turned out to be the most complicated. It was like meditating a mandala, circling around and around, going deeper and deeper into a vortex to reveal the song's truth.
I started writing this song during Diwali in my bedroom in India (mainly because it was the only room in the apartment that had a/c). At times isolated and lonely, I started thinking about my past relationships and how everything seems to go so well at the beginning and then slowly disintegrates - that the image that your partner portrays at the beginning of a relationship isn't necessarily who he really is and that the real person emerges in time.
Sonically, I wanted to explore the struggle of maintaining one's identity in a relationship while giving and relating to one's partner (in other words, looking at the layers of each partner and also looking at the layers of the relationship between the two of them) while also exploring the slow disintegration of a relationship.
The song started off as an experimentation of a moody, atmospheric lullaby of layered synth sounds and a simple bassline. For some reason (and this doesn't usually happen) most of the lyrics and the main vocal melody came quickly. I wasn't happy with the monotony of the song, and so I started to work on the arrangement. I added a loose drum beat, an overlay of tablas, and a flute outro to the chorus. I wanted to convey the chaos of a fire and the calm aftermath of the burning, so I worked more on the second chorus and a breakdown of disjointed chaos leading to an unsettling calm and finally, a transformative final chorus. When I returned to the States, I sat down with Blake (Fleming) and we fleshed out the simple drum parts that were there, which added another layer of intensity to the song. After that was done, Doug (Wright) and I did the same thing with the basslines and then Will (Dahl) and I worked on the guitar parts. After all this was done, I revisited the vocal melodies until I felt they were right. I experimented with my vocal tone in the verses and choruses and tried to emotionally parallel that of the life of the relationship and its disintegration and transformation. With the verses, especially, I wanted to affect a soft, gentle siren with a hint of something darker below the surface, which is realized in the formidable chorus. In the end, I suppose the song is kind of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, a paradoxical yin yang of emotions. We just hope that the listener will feel something.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!