Episode 027: The Kiss
In which we discuss Falco, Yngwie Malmsteen, and waltzing
We have family in Austria and Germany, so we travel there a fair amount. There are tentative plans to one day retire at least part-time to the city of Graz in the south of Austria. Wonderful place.
So much art there..music, paintings, theater, opera, you name it. And so much history, just walking down the street. Like many European cities. Unlike here in the USA, where when something is more than 10 years old we knock it down to build something new.
I wanted to write music somehow related to Vienna, which is kind of daunting. There’s been a little music associated with the place: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. Mahler. All of the Strausses. Schoenberg if you like. Even some jazz with Joe Zawinul.
Heck, Falco is from Vienna. That’s pretty badass.
How to choose a painting as inspiration when there’s an endless supply of renowned artists like Schiele, Moll, Moser, etc.?
I had to go with the man himself, Gustav Klimt. I try not to do all überfamous paintings here, but sometimes you just have to go with an end-of-level boss fight.
Klimt’s timeless The Kiss it is!
I don’t use any set templates for these beats. It’s not like when I sit down to start writing on Monday morning I say, “well, this one will have a quiet intro which will lead into the main theme…” or anything like that.
I knew this beat had to just keep building though, keep adding new parts. George Saunders says: Always Be Escalating. Doesn’t always work in music. I think it did here, though.
Also needed a waltzing feel. The beat isn’t in three-four time, but it does gain a triplet feel about halfway through when the strings enter. One could theoretically waltz to it, I think.
On the drop, the sound of the whole beat changes: new drum kit, different string sound, and a big raucous '70s-style synth lead. The original plan was to go for a much more melodic part here. A whole new melody. But as I started recording the part, something snapped in my brain. Suddenly I started playing some kind of '80s-high-school-I've-been-listening-to-too-much-Yngwie-Malmsteen kind of solo.
When I was finished I actually started laughing out loud. After I listened back to it, I decided it was perfect.
One take. Done.
Had to capture the exquisite colors somehow. And the patterns…the swirls and squares and spirals and blocks and rings were yelling to me for a good grid. I used mostly gold colors, with some brown for their hair, and some red and green for the flowers to brighten it up a bit.
You’ve doubtless seen The Kiss in books, online, plastered across swag…but if you haven’t seen the life-size couple embracing on the wall of Vienna’s Belvedere Museum in person – if you haven’t gotten up close to look at how the couple’s clothing blends into one another, to feel the emotion pouring through the gold – you’ve got a new bucket list item.
Fun fact: painted in 1907-1908, The Kiss was originally seen as pornographic by certain sects of society. Even though nobody’s naked. Or having sex.
One year Denise and I spent New Year’s Eve in Vienna, and as one generally must, we attended the New Year’s Eve Gala in The Grand Ballroom of Vienna City Hall. Sounds fancy, right?
We knew lots of Strauss and other waltzes would be played, so we needed to learn how to waltz. Unfortunately, we decided the time to learn was an hour before the ball in our hotel room after watching a 30-second YouTube video. Waltzing at midnight would be easy, right?
It was not.
We got out there and were summarily trampled by the greatest professional walzers in the world. The Gala is like Cannes or the Oscars or Comicon. It is THE thing for people who love to waltz. And are great at it.
We were not.
But someday we will be…
Until next week, thanks for reading Polyester City. If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment by clicking the link above. If you know anyone who likes Music and Art and Stories [and waltzing], which is pretty much everyone, please consider sharing by clicking the link below.