Finnish duo The Impersonators recently released their new single "Cloud Nine" and to celebrate we asked Tom Tikka to tell us about the track. Here is the story:
I suppose "Cloud Nine" happened like most songs Antti and I write. We just began working on it. It was time to write the next single, so we were toying around with ideas, hoping one of the new songs we about to knock off would turn out to be a worthy successor to our previous singles "Sad Cafe" and "Circus", both of which had done rather well for us.
Perhaps, the thing that was different about this one was that it was one of those tracks that existed in my head as an idea even before it was written. For a while, I had felt that the time had come for The Impersonators to release one or two bona fide, radio-friendly pop tunes and the fact that I hadn't written one in a long while made the prospect of writing such a tune a very exciting idea.
The long and short of it is that "Cloud Nine" is the type of song that's reminiscent of the stuff I wrote for Carmen Gray, the band I was previously involved with. It's got a big chorus and that's what my brother Lappe and I did for Carmen Gray, we wrote songs with big choruses. We had to do it. When you're working with a big label like Sony/BMG, they tend to expect a hit single from your pen every now and then. It wasn't always fun, there was a lot of pressure involved but the upside of all the stress was that both Lappe and I became a lot more disciplined in terms of our songwriting. Instead of waiting for inspiration, we began writing new melodies daily. That way, a killer idea would pop up every once in a while. I know this is not the most romantic notion of songwriting but to survive in the music business you've got to learn to be practical.
The thing is, I have been a bit reluctant to write anything in that vein for The Impersonators. I don't really know why. I suppose when Carmen Gray disbanded, I wanted to create a unique identity for our little duo that was separate from anything I had done before. As a result, I went through an awful lot of trouble trying hard not to sound like the old band. It was actually my sixteen-year-old son, who has now for some reason discovered my old songs on Spotify who came to me and said, "Why don't you write a song like you used to. I love the new stuff but I'd also like a few more of those ear-grinders." At first, I was a bit cheesed off but thanks to that comment, I went back to the old Carmen Gray albums and gave them all a spin.
It was a fun trip down memory lane. The old albums sounded great. I was particularly impressed about how naive and natural the writing sounded and came to the conclusion that if anyone was allowed to write a tune that sounded a bit like Carmen Gray, it was me. So ultimately, I decided to give it a whirl. I pretended that I was writing a tune for Niklas Nyman to sing and I thought "Cloud Nine" came out sounding rather authentic. Of course, we gave it an arrangement that fit The Impersonators. However, from the standpoint of writing, that's how an idea of the new track was born.
While the above is true for the melody, lyrically speaking, "Cloud Nine" is a love song. It's based on a beautiful poem Antti sent me about a couple growing old together, you'd have to ask him about the inspiration behind those lines. My contribution to the lyrics was inspired by a therapy session! I wrote the words for the chorus of "Cloud Nine" while driving home from the shrink's office. It was after a difficult session, during which I was made to reflect on what my role has been in pretty much each and every one of my relationships. As I was reliving some of the most traumatic events of my life, I came to realize that I've always been the so-called "designated driver," the one who abstains from getting what he wants so those around him can be content. That's what the chorus is all about, consoling someone after you've had a row about who calls the shots in the relationship, "If you're way down low, I'll give you sunny skies." You know, giving in and being a gentleman, even though you should really make a stand and assert yourself.
As the song was inspired by a therapy session, I figured that this is what the music video should be about as well: psychotherapy. Only instead of the focus being on the patient, we decided to make the video about the psychiatrist, someone who is strained by dealing with his patients' issues, locked inside his mind, struggling with his many troubled and twisted egos, attempting to pull himself together while between sessions.
Once again, the core of the script was mainly the brainchild of my wife Elina Suominen, but this time we turned to Tuomas Palola for help to complete our ideas and also to film and edit the final product. I knew Tuomas from the times of Carmen Gray (he made music videos for "Gates Of Loneliness" and "Fall In Love") and was very happy that he wanted to jump on board this project. Shooting the music video was a lot of fun. I enjoy hanging out with Tuomas and obviously, the prestigious Falkman Atelier, in which the therapy session-clips were filmed is a spectacular room.
Before closing, I want to give special praise to our producer Janne Saksa, whose contribution to what we are doing is indispensable. He has always been very sympathetic to what we are doing and has a unique ability to give our music exactly the right treatment. We're very lucky to have him in our corner.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below