Singled Out: URN's Cast in Amber
Our song "Cast in Amber" is actually a sequel to a song that we released on our second album called "Etched in Stone". I should preface that "Etched in Stone" has an interesting back-story in and of itself, as I originally wrote that song with a gothic rock band I was in during college, prior to URN, called Sacrosanct. Michelle Belanger, who most people would know from being the blind-folded psychic on the reality show Paranormal State and has come into great success as a writer, was my singer in that band and it ended up becoming a fairly popular song for us in the circuits that we played back in those days.
Regrettably, Sacrosanct would never record any material as, well, we were in college and we placed our priorities on actually graduating. (Yeah, we were nerds.) My grandmother had passed away from cancer around that time and that was the primary muse of my writing that song. She was very special to me and most of the music I write is a catharsis from some darker or negative emotion that I'm experiencing at that time and am trying to purge it.
I would eventually release that song ten years later once URN had established ourselves and I brought Michelle into the studio to do guest vocals and we both felt a sense of closure and accomplishment. I adjusted the lyrics so that it focused more on the loss of a loved one in general, leaving a stark emptiness in a person having to move forward.
Now, "Cast in Amber" takes on the opposite perspective, giving an even more somber focus. It is from the perspective of the person that has passed on and is retrospectively looking back in hope that the impression they left for their loved ones is a positive one.
So one would ask, "how can you write from a dead person's perspective?" The obvious answer is that you can't.
I, like millions of people who were living in America at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, had gone through a great deal of loss in both my personal and professional life. It catapulted me into a massive despair and I spiraled to view my existence as one colossal punch line.
This was all in my head of course, as my life at that time wasn't good by any means, but it was worth living. Nonetheless, I had considered suicide at one point and "Cast in Amber" would be in a way, not so much a suicide letter, but the words I would express if I did actually end my existence.
The song really was built around the melody in the interlude, which derived from a vocal exercise that I came up with when I was taking classical voice lessons at Columbia College in Chicago. In the initial version, I sang the part a cappella (and still do when we perform the song live). However, when we were in studio recording the song, we had our violinist at the time play the part and we felt it just really gave it a whole new dimension.
We felt so strongly about the song, this is why we made it the first single off our new release and filmed the video for it based on the lyrical narrative that song tries to portray. It is our intention that the listener would find solace in a time of despair and to hopefully re-discover the beautiful gift that life is.