Blog 6: That's No Way to Live
Confusion is the word of the day. Or it was until I sat down at my desk to listen to a new song called ‘That’s No Way to Live’ written by young person Ruairidh Whitmarsh with the help of professional musicians Albi Taylor and Craig Angus.
We can all get caught up in the chaos and mayhem of everyday life. And if you desperately look at the person sitting next to you and subsequently at the world around you, you might have realised that you unwittingly opened Pandora’s box. That’s right, chaos lurks everywhere; your job, the news, the world, even your room. And when buying loads of takeout or binge-watching shows on Netflix doesn’t do the trick anymore, give “That’s No Way to Live” a listen.
The song encapsulates a lot of the frustrations we’ve all been feeling since lockdown; looking at the world outside and having the sense of eternally rolling a boulder up a hill. So what’s a way out of this senselessness? Maybe it’s about channelling those frustrations and in the words of the song, “dream and scheme and see what we can come up with”.
We can only stay exasperated for so long. It’s time to come up with eclectic solutions and temper them with irrational conviction. Any scheme is better than no scheme and an optimistic attitude is always better than a lethargic one. And when all these crazy schemes come together under one banner, we have the perfect anthem that we can use as we sing and spin and paint the chaos away.
In your own words can you tell us what the song is about?
Ruairidh: ‘That’s No Way to Live’ is about looking at the world and its problems and finding a way to keep yourself going by listening and looking at nature. It’s also about writing and singing what you wish the world could be like, to try and find positives and get more upbeat.
What inspired you to write this song?
Ruairidh: I was influenced by many things, the American mismanagement of the Covid19 response, seeing people always on their phones, BLM protests, being frustrated with the lockdown and also just sitting in an allotment listening to birds.
What have you learnt from working with Craig and Albi?
Ruairidh: It was fantastic to work with Craig and Albi! Something new that I learnt through this collaboration is how to write a song over zoom and to take ideas from many places. Another thing is how pleasant it is to work towards a common goal.
There’s a transition in the song when you go from “That’s no way to live” to “That’s the way to live”. Can you tell us what the reason was to write the song this way?
Ruairidh: We had written most of the song and kept the original chorus but we wanted to have it more upbeat at the end. So we changed the chorus to “That’s the way to live” to make it fit better with the mood. Also the chords change there to major, so it works better as well.
What sort of music do you usually like to listen to and did any particular artists influence you when making this song?
Ruairidh: I normally like to listen to all sorts of music including Jazz and Punk (but not very heavy screamy metal). I was inspired by the band T-Rex, Bob Dylan’s vocal delivery, The Beatles, Jona Lewie and the song “We Will Rock You” by Queen.
How was it for you Craig to collaborate with Ruairidh?
Craig: Working with Ruaraidh was a real pleasure. It was my first songwriting collaboration with Ensemble, and also the first time I'd really met either Ruaraidh or Albi, but we got on very well from the off. Our first two sessions were mostly spent chatting, about the food our families cooked, about how we'd been passing lockdown, and eventually we got to talking politics and from there the direction of the song was easy. The lyrical content all derived from freewriting exercises the three of us did in our meetings. I'd initially thought a music hall, Beatles Sgt Pepper type thing would have been great - but Ruaraidh mentioned something about T-Rex and I took that as an invitation to write a glam rock, power pop type piece inspired by Marc Bolan but also Big Star, one of my favourite bands. In fact the song sounds quite a lot like a few different Big Star songs.
Albi really drove the second half of the song, the transition from ‘dream and scheme’ to the more positive ending. I wouldn’t have got to that more optimistic place without her.
Ruaraidh's enthusiasm was infectious throughout and it really feels like a true collaboration in that you can hear elements of all of our personalities in the song. I'm looking forward to people hearing it.
Listen to this brand new song from Ruairidh, Craig and Albi and if this doesn’t get you up on your feet, I don’t know what will. And don’t forget to buy our debut album No Place Like It. You can find it here at https://bit.ly/3t5pD3W