If you read our interview with Katie Nicholas, you’ll know she’s recently released her debut album, ‘Dizzy’. We love this album. A lot. What struck us about it though was just how personal an album Dizzy is – and so when it came time to review it, we decided we couldn’t do it any more justice than Katie Nicholas could herself…so we asked her to go through it, track by track, and let us know what it meant to her. So in an Essentially Pop first, we hand over to Katie.
So all the tracks on my debut album Dizzy (and any track I write) are normally based upon my own experience… which is probably a risky thing to confess! I find as soon as I feel something or am inspired by a life event, I rely on writing a song to articulate my often confused feelings. I used to get plenty of writers-block but since changing my outlook on how I use “songwriting”, I no longer feel the need to think too hard about what to write, instead I try to get things off my chest or use what’s around me. It can sometimes surprise me as I often tend to lock up what I truly feel, so it’s strange to watch my subconscious ideas take shape so freely…
The earliest track on the album, and one which I wrote for my boyfriend at the time. My homemade video for it ended up taking off virally on YT when a producer shared it, hitting 100,000 views.
It was very genuine and real song for me! I was a very cheesy romantic seventeen-year-old back then and I had always wanted to write something for my boyfriend. I had found the guitar part prior to the final lyrics but it took me a few goes to find the ones that felt right in my eyes. It always felt too generic and typical to begin with.
It started to click when I combined the things we love – my fascination with the stars (you’ll find many references in my songs!) with his love for the TV show, Big Bang Theory. With that and a scientific link, I ended up playing around with relevant words such as radioactive, Isaac Newton, gravity and equation… Not to miss the obvious pinnacle of the song, “Chemistry” – to describe how we fitted so nicely together!
I’ve always felt that Chemistry helped me realise early on that I have a very stylistic way of writing and it allowed me to have faith in my formulaic approach.
People often ask who rattled my tail feathers on this one because it’s quite a fiery one! Again based on personal experience, which was then accentuated and dramatised, I initially was hooked on the term “kid in a candy shop”.
I guess this visual song had already been moulded in my mind with a prominent image of a mouthwatering greedy kid who wanted what he wanted, and once he got it, was on to the next!
Almost two years on from writing Chemistry, I was still using my visual and stylistic formula of writing songs, meaning I was combining an overwhelming amount of food references and classic saying such as “kid’s don’t play with your food!” and play of words on “putting my heart at steak” along with “no more wine on the date!”
Again it was something really fun to write which was triggered by a realistic encounter. I now feel bad for writing such a damning song, as it turns out I was wrong about that person.
The fastest song I ever wrote… it poured out of me like I was letting the fizz out of the bottle! I was feeling extremely cold and strange at the time and A&E is truly as honest as it gets – though at the time, I could never explain it people fully. I was nearing the end of very long first relationship and was clinging on though my heart wasn’t in it anymore. So in some sort of cardiac arrest, all I could feel was numbness and confusion.
This triggered a panicky manic song with antagonistic happy music to disguise those pretty fatal feelings – or lack of feeling. To soften the blow however, in the verses are flashback scenarios where the girl showers her love to the boy but it isn’t reciprocated… then the tables turn – but too late; her feelings are gone and heart is empty!
Theme-wise we’ve got capillaries, hearts and an A&E scenario. I always envisioned it as some sort of psycho ward she was in… for being a sociopath or something haha!
So this goes back to struggling to deal with a relationship, like some sort of see-saw. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but does it seem that when you’re feeling one way, the other is feeling the exact opposite? A bit more subtle with linking themes, I talk of polar opposites, turning tables and difference of interests to support the simple chorus of “you once loved me, the way I love you. Now I love you, you don’t love me”.
Call it Chemistry part 2! Dizzy is a sickeningly sweet love song, linking to Sweet Talk with references to all things sugary and fairground themed.
Again as cheesy as it sounds, it’s true (well, the feeling and intent).
I basically felt sky high because I previously thought that after my first love I couldn’t fall again… but then it happened! So to amplify that, I was also ecstatic to have those distant feelings again. So being logical with it, I again dramatised and accentuated my new found inspiration to write a love song.
I wanted it to be visual, capturing a vivid image of a fairground first date… while using roller coasters and a trill on the “dizzy” melody to mimic the rides and the feeling! … The intent was almost childlike to capture the escapism and memory of first love. *sigh* I really do make myself cringe sometimes.
So leading on from Dizzy, I had fallen in love again… but at a cost! I couldn’t have the person I loved due to circumstance. So to express this situation and link it logically, I introduce my fairground themes in Sweet Talk and Dizzy to Carousel.
In my head I had an extremely clear image of two people dancing to a waltz like a traditional wind-up jewellery-box… The idea is that two people have loved each other all their life but moved on due to circumstance, and while they often bump into each other, they remain respectfully silent of their true feelings, dancing politely and gracefully.
The chorus however is where it peaks, and both are declaring their love on a never-ending spinning carousel, but they will never reach each other cause they are on the other side! All very “dizzying”…there’s even a dizzy reference at the end of the song in the melody part.
Boots is all about empathy and using the classic phrase to “walk around in someone’s shoes” to relate to someone. Like Sweet Talk, again I was feeling fiery that someone had walked over me, so it triggered a stubborn pop song! Boots was also a personal reference for my favourite cute little boots that I would always wear and I even animated the video with little graphic versions of the boots! People tend to ask where the gnome reference came from? I have no idea.
I wrote this after Chemistry, and like A&E and Love it’s when a relationship goes out of balance. It’s weird looking back on this one, as I seem needy and confused here, and nowadays I tend to think I’d deal with situations differently. Technical Glitch is taken from my lyrics – I also had this prominent image of a sewing machine glitching… probably as there are themes of needle and thread, feeling strangled and a fear of losing what I only knew.
Finally a song that isn’t about love! Though you could say missing home is a different sort of love. I moved to London at eighteen leaving my family in Liverpool, and I had a dreadful time in the first home I moved to. All I’ll say is that I lived with very perverse people and instead of being strong, I went into my shell cause my confidence was shattered. Looking back on it, I’m thankful for it, I was too soft and I’m much less of a push over nowadays… but yikes! At least bad times triggered a nice song about home and the morals that were instilled in me as a kid!
Last track on the album to mirror Chemistry – like the ending of something that started so sweet and upbeat, to a mellow track about the final phase of a relationship that taught me a lot of things. Me being me, had to go and put references to stars and a Chemistry “meant to be” link. I also began to think of those naive coloured school textbooks lined up with the subject title scrawled on with permanent marker… but that’s another tangent.
Anyway, it was a personal song to me that almost didn’t make it to the album… initially for fear of hurt feelings, or it seeming too indulgent/boring (I have a tendency to have that pop in my head).
Like a final plea, it’s about dealing with the disbelief of how something that once brought you joy can just disappear because of your own change of heart and mind – but I guess that’s called growing up!
“Come on heart, I want to be in love.
Dream of those stars that once connected us above.
Somehow they’ve shifted, and shattered in the sky.
No longer destiny, or meant to be,
Just a broken beautiful history”.
I wasn’t sure why I called the album Dizzy at first… but I think I see why now. It was clearly dizzying the feelings I had felt while struggling to come to terms with first love and what follows that. Funnily enough, I never wanted to write love songs, but that’s just what happens when you write honestly!