DELANILA’s debut album, Overloaded, is out now. DELANILA is the self-described cinematic experimental alternative project of multiple award-winning “notable cross-genre composer” (The New Yorker), performer and multimedia artist Danielle Eva Schwob, who has garnered international acclaim for her concert music, alt-rock songs and film scores.
The singer-songwriter get to sit and walks us through the meaning and story behind every track on the record. Check below!
I wrote this track with trolls, social media, Dostoevsky and other people’s online ‘highlight reels’ in mind, and wanted the ending to feel like a dystopian apocalypse because the Internet can be a pretty toxic place. The track started off with my guitar part for the verse, which I’d been playing around with for a while, and was originally going to have more of a conventional song structure, but I’m happy that didn’t happen. The main synth in the outro is me on Prophet, the guitar/synth leads are Adam’s and Nick’s.
I Get Bored
This track was written when I was recovering from surgery at home and had a terrible reaction to Percocet. Recovery was uncomfortable and psychedelic yet also boring, and, once the migraine wore off, involved a lot of screen time. The song’s woozy chord progression was inspired loosely by Philip Glass’s Cabin in the Rockies.
This song-in-two-halves nearly went in the trash but Reuben Cainer, who played bass on it, told me it was his favourite. It turned out to be one of mine too. I wrote it during a time when I’d had a project fall through and was feeling a bit stuck. “I’ll take my frustration / to this overblown machine / where constant messages all tell me to keep pushing / until I succeed.” The outro vocal is the most honest thing I’ve done, though unintentionally so and largely thanks to David’s genius as a producer.
Turning on the TV
This song was inspired by a time in life when I was so busy that at the end of the day all I wanted to do was watch TV. It’s got some of my favourite guitar solos that I’ve done, as well as some of my favourite string arrangements. I think the lyric “I think I found god / or something close enough / in syndication and plastic parts” is the best on the record.
Interlude I: Signals
When I listened through all the songs I had recorded in sequence, it was an intense ride so I wrote these interludes to break them up. This one is made partly out of string elements from other songs on the record that I cut up and re-purposed.
Fading On My Own
This song is about guilt, and about the moment before you tell someone something that you know will change the relationship forever. It’s also fictional. The arrangement for it went through many incarnations and it was only when we tried the pulsing 16th note synth that drives the verses that it felt right.
Time Slips Away
This track is about wasting time online and was written during a period when I was working alone at home and staring at a screen a lot. Its lyrics are deliberately repetitive, as life can be. For a while I was stuck what to do for a bridge and outro for it, then ultimately made both of those things out of my synth bass parts from the chorus, which I cut up and re-arranged. The ending is an orchestra swooping from players’ lowest to highest notes.
Interlude II: Overture
The concert composer in me likes to re-use themes, so this track is built out of strings from Turning on the TV that I chopped up and re-purposed. It also samples one of my classical pieces, which is called Mehr Licht.
Overloaded is the title track because its chorus sums up the record: “I’m feeling overloaded / And my brain is numb / But I just can’t move / ‘Cause the screen is on.” I actually wrote most of it years ago, but it wasn’t until I found a pre-chorus and the main guitar hook (which is actually from the demo recording) later on that it worked. It’s my imaginary end credits track for The Matrix.
Always In My Head
This track is about a visual artist I dated a long time ago. The string parts and vocal harmonies on it are some of my favourites and David pushed me to new places as a singer. I listened to a lot of Tool and John Williams while making it, and wanted there to be explosiveness and drama to the build of the arrangement.
Interlude III: People, Machines and the Space In Between
Violinist Jenny Choi is one of my favourite collaborators from the concert world and I’m happy to have been able to feature her in a different context here. The piece loops around in strange time signatures because I wanted it to feel hypnotic and difficult to pin down, while she floats above it.
It’s Been A While Since I Went Outside
This song was inspired by a time when I was sick and spending a lot of time indoors watching TV, and had also been working from home a lot in general. After a while I started to feel like I was spending more time with characters onscreen than actual humans : “I’m never alone / I’ve got friends in the shows / And they’re not going anywhere.” It started off life as a quiet piano song, but once I started adding synths to it I realized it had the potential to be a lot bigger. The chorus also took a while to figure out – I tried a lot of different chord progressions that were a bit safer, but ultimately F#m to C was what stuck. Probably shouldn’t have worked, but it did!