Follow Us on Twitter

Maps - Track by track guide and audio clips

James Chapman, aka Maps

Compiled by Jack Foley

AS THE sublime debut album from Maps, We Can Create, is finally released into record stores, James Chapman guides you through his album:

So Low, So High:
This track basically started to develop from a sample. It’s not often I work like that but I guess it inspired me a lot. I built the beats around the main loop (it’s from Mark Wirtz’s Theme From A Teenage Opera) and a melody came into my head pretty quickly. I was listening to My Bloody Valentine’s first LP a lot around this time and I think it effected this song sonically. I think it’s a really uplifting track and I thought its intensity would be great to start the LP.

You Don’t Know Her Name:
I was kind of working on two ideas at the same time with this one. I had this great weird little riff that I made on my sequencer, which starts the track and happens through each verse. I also had the melody for the chorus going round in my brain- I thought ‘this is really poppy’, but I wanted to make it more psychedelic. I joined the 2 ideas together and it worked really well. I wanted to make the chorus’ as huge as possible and worked with Valgeir to make the build in the middle a real rush of euphoria.

Elouise:
I wrote this song around one of the hottest summers I can remember – I think it’s got that kind of vibe to it. When I was in Iceland we added some really cool strings and brass, and they lift the whole song even more. I went to see The Chemical Brothers in Brixton when I was getting the ideas together for this track. We stayed up all night and through the next day. Along the way I met a woman who had been through a lot of horrible shit in her life. She was a great inspiration to me that night and a lot of the lyrics are for her. It’s a song about never giving up basically.

It Will Find You:
This is the newest track on the whole LP and it was pretty much untouched from my 16-track recording. I spent a lot of time trying to create a really tight groove, but at the same time making it slightly unnerving. The beats of Kieran Hebden were a great influence on this track, I was listening to a lot of his work at the time. There is a strong theme of escapism in this song. I wanted to make it a trip for the listener. I’m really glad it was a single because it’s one of my favourite songs on the album.

Glory Verse:
I wrote this song a long time ago. Valgeir and I started the recording from scratch in his studio, which was a totally new experience for me. I’d never really started recording something from a blank slate in a studio before (I guess you’re always thinking about how much money it’s costing!), but it turned out really well. I was always conscious of ‘holding back’ for the main part of the track. It’s quite sparse until the very end section and I think this helps to make the vocals feel more personal. That was what I was trying to achieve with this song.

Liquid Sugar:
The chorus for this track took a while to write. I got really caught up in trying to write the best melody I possibly could, and for it to work well with the chords I was playing around with. I spent quite a few nights changing what I had written slightly to see if it helped to add more emotion to the chorus. I also had this cool little backwards guitar sample which I wanted to use. It fitted in with both the verse and the chorus, so I ended up using it throughout the whole song!

I still felt something was lacking until I added those tremolo guitars in the chorus- they really helped to make it sound ‘big’, and for me they seemed to trigger the right chemical feelings in the brain. Valgeir also helped to add the strings near the end onwards. They’re quite subtle but seem to add a lot to that end section.

To The Sky:
I played around with this guitar riff quite a bit and built the chord sequence around it. It originally began with just the chorus, repeated, with the music buliding up each time (there’s actually a version of that kicking around somewhere) – but then I thought it would be cool to take it further so I wrote the verses, making it more of a song-like structure. It ended up pretty poppy. The lyrics were kind of based around me messing something up pretty badly. I guess most people have been in a similar situation at some point.

Back and Forth:
I love the main keyboard riff- it actually came about by a mistake! I was fiddling around on my sequencer, pressing random buttons and it seemed to create these sounds that I hadn’t meant to make. But it sounded good! We worked on this one quite a bit when I was in Iceland- adding new beats and generally giving it more ballsiness. There’s a great fuzzy synth line from one of Valgeir’s keyboards (some kind of Moog, but I can’t remember) that really adds to the electro feel of the track. There’s quite a lot of weirdness going on which I like, the vocals are more of a mantra on this one.

Lost My Soul:
I wrote this track a while ago. It’s quite a simple song, but that can be a good thing I guess. The vibe is quite bittersweet but it’s pretty anthemic by the end. I actually played the violin on it and you can hear me tuning up in the beginning section. I never got round to taking it out- ha ha! We didn’t feel the need to do a great deal to this in Iceland- it was always meant to be simple and I think it works well that way.

Don’t Fear:
The original version of Don’t Fear was about 10 minutes long, but it got cut down quite a bit over time! I always wanted it to have a huge vocal build up in the beginning section and to kick in real hard with the drums. I actually recorded the vocal line first, which was a bit of a weird thing to do, then I played chords over the top. I wanted it to sound like a hymn I guess. The song starts off quite dark but it ends in a kind of euphoric hope, which I tried to explore in a lot of this LP. It’s definitely an optimistic song. The lyrics repeat throughout because it was all I really wanted to say at the time I guess.

When You Leave:
I think this is actually the oldest track on the album. We added a lot of new sounds in Vageir’s studio and made it as huge as we possibly could. It’s a pretty emotional song for me. Takes me back to quite a dark time. I guess the lyrics explain some of that.

Maps, We Can Create

Want to know more? Watch these introductory films…

Snippet 1 of 3 Minute Trailer (Video)
Windows™ High | Windows™ Low

Real™ High | Real™ Low

Quicktime™ High | Quicktime™ Low

Snippet 2 of 3 Minute Trailer (Video)
Windows™ High | Windows™ Low

Real™ High | Real™ Low

Quicktime™ High | Quicktime™ Low

  1. Nice article…
    Brilliant Album…
    i felt that four-tet/mbv vibe on a few tracks

    john kiernan    May 30    #