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How did bringing in 3 new members transform Changelings? Jay Penaflor takes us through the debut LP

Dream pop connoisseurs Changelings took things to the next level on their debut album Poppyfields, which hit shelves last December. Wavy, mellow and introspective, it was the perfect introduction to the new Changelings; a fierce four-piece ensemble.

We recently caught up with Jay Penaflor, initially the only member of the band, to chat the new cuts. Where did each track come from? Where did his influence lie? Here he is, running us through each song one by one.

changelings poppyfields

What went into every tune on Changelings’ debut album? As one became four, Jay Penaflor went to new and old worlds to create Poppyfields.

Changeling

If it weren’t for the name of this song, my solo project wouldn’t be called what it is today. This was the first song that the band and I rehearsed for the debut album. It also seemed appropriate to have the track kick off the very beginning of the album, because it felt like the connecting bridge between Poppyfields and my last solo EP Human Abstracts.

From what I remember, the music and lyrics were written very quickly. I knew from the start it had to sound like a Wild Nothing song.

Spectrum Quiz

I remember this song having a more upbeat tempo, before deciding to slow it down and give it a more mellow vibe. Around that time, Tame Impala’s Currents had just been released and I specifically chose this song to try emulate the ethereal and hazy soundscapes that seemed to flow through that particular album.

The lyrics are about trying to shed the labels that people put on you. It shares a common theme with the fourth album track, There’s A Place.

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Golden Blazer

The main influence for this track is pretty straight-forward – The War On Drugs. It’s me putting on my Springsteen/Dylan voice while being aided by a pulsating motorik drum rhythm and atmospheric synthesiser pads. The highlight of the song has got to be the interstellar-sounding guitar solo performed by my lead guitarist Tom.

There’s A Place

It seemed fitting to release this song as the first Changelings single as it seems to represent the essence of the whole album. It was written during a period when I was writing a lot of dream-pop/indie rock material. I had this song around for about three years and it felt great to finally release it and have it on the debut album.

It’s basically me trying to write another Wild Nothing-like tune. I knew it had to be melodic, and it also had to evoke a sense of escapism and dreamlike charm. This ‘place’ that I continually mention in the track refers to a mental state of being.

Up Is The New Down

I can easily see this song on one of Best Coast’s earlier EPs. It just felt like the album needed something lo-fi and garage pop-sounding. I had the melodic idea for this lying around somewhere and it seemed like it didn’t need a chorus or a bridge, so I left it as it was. Everything in this song was performed by me, which was a totally new experience. Playing drums was quite enjoyable.

Nostalgia

Another tune performed all by myself. This song depicts a coming of age kind of situation – feeling like you’ve been thrown into the deep end of life all of a sudden and longing to get back to how it used to be, when times were simpler. I feel like most of the time I’m caught in a war between the past and the present and I wanted to write a tune that personified that feeling.

Musically, I was trying to be my own Mac Demarco or Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The track sounds like a tripped out children’s song, which felt like a nice juxtaposition with the song’s melancholy subject matter.

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Breakneck Lovers

I wanted a song on the album that stood apart from the rest of the tracks. This one is sort of the ‘black sheep’ of the album. It’s a sixties-inspired Beatles-esque kind of tune, that deals with the confusion between lust and love and forgetting to draw the line between the two extremes.

Reckoning Year

To conclude the album I dug out an old melodic idea that I had lying around for ages which I rewrote as an electronic beat-driven song. Much of the rhythm section was sampled and looped, while the rest of the instruments were overdubbed afterwards. Overall, it’s a nice little upbeat, dreamy kind of song that people can groove to. Imagine if Radiohead’s 2011 The King Of Limbs was in the vein of dream pop – that’s the only way I can describe this track.

 

To catch Changeligns live before the next release, head to the Workers Club in Fitzroy on the 31st of May. Changelings will be there, supported by Polykite and Eddy Dillon.

The band will also be selling cassettes of Poppyfields for $10, so be there early to get your hands on one.