Meditative, soul-feeding, and like hot stones down the spine: Callan John knows how to soothe the mind through music. His latest single A Home She Made is a treacly testament to the indie-folk romance of a well-crafted acoustic song. Diving deeper into the musical mood board of this soporific track, John has put together a playlist to numb the pain.
From Angus & Julia Stone to Bon Iver and back, Callan John details the most inspiring indie classics behind his latest song, in his own words.
Bon Iver – Blindsided
The inception point of A Home She Made probably goes back about 10 years ago when a few mates and I were invited up to a friend’s remote little family getaway on the NSW North Coast. One night, everyone else went to bed but the host and I decided to stay up to watch the sunrise. As we sat on the headland sinking tinnies, waiting for day to break, he introduced me to Bon Iver’s seminal album For Emma, Forever Ago and I remember being viscerally moved by the raw, melancholic, reflective mood it evoked within me.
I can’t say that it was intentional, but I think I might have been subconsciously attempting to channel the brilliance of Justin Vernon when writing A Home She Made. I did, however, very consciously use Blindsided as a reference point when trying to communicate my vision for the song to producer extraordinaire Tim Carr (Matt Corby – Brother) during recording earlier this year at One Flight Up Studios; particularly for the soft constant kick drum, the acoustic guitar, and vulnerable vocals.
Angus and Julia Stone – Babylon
When writing A Home She Made I was a love-sick little puppy missing the girl of my dreams who was living on the other side of the world, and I was listening to a lot of music that amplified those emotions (because we all enjoy a cheeky bit of masochism sometimes, right?). This included the dulcet tones of Babylon by Angus & Julia Stone and, since I’m a firm believer that my creative output is a direct product of my environmental inputs, I think this song was undoubtedly another subconscious influence on A Home She Made.
It was also another conscious point of reference used during recording, but this one was all about the vibe created by the intro’s warm, intimate acoustic guitar and the sustained cello notes, which you might be able to compare to the bass line in the instrumental break of AHSM.
José González – Heartbeats
Released in 2003, this timeless tune was another influence on the writing of AHSM and another reference track used to double down on the warm, intimate, nostalgic vibe I was going for. I loved the guitar work in this song and the fact that the only elements are guitar and voice — not even a single harmony — speaks to its overall strength. I also loved the chorus effect on González’s voice which seems to give the song a sort of entrancing and lullaby-like quality, which I also wanted to capture in A Home She Made.
Ziggy Alberts – Gone
I’m indecisive at the best of times, so it was really hard to choose a couple of reference tracks for Tim Carr to use when bringing my song to life. So in addition to the three I’ve just described, I showed him Ziggy Alberts’Gone (The Pocahontas Song) for its blend of that subtle constant kick, acoustic guitar, and chorussed vocals, but had I known his view on the mandatory wearing of masks during a pandemic, I might have taken it out.
I also threw in Matt Corby’s Big Eyes (which Tim actually produced in 2011) for another vibe and vulnerability reference, along with the gorgeous When Your Eyes Speak by Indigenous Australian singer/songwriter Aodhan, as well as Novo Amor’s Vantablack for its hauntingly beautiful harmonies.
You can listen to all of these songs on CallanJohn‘s relaxing L89 References playlist here: