How I missed home and crossed the ocean – Spotify Playlist inspired by ‘How I Missed Home’ by Max Aurora
What do you think of when it comes to music inspired by the ocean?
Is it sounds doused in reverb? Sea shanties? Surf rock? ‘My Heart Will Go On’?
To me it’s about the contrast of vastness and closeness (and of course reverb!). It’s also an exciting dreamy feeling of potential I felt from the ‘Maidentrip’ documentary, which I tried to capture with ‘How I Missed Home’, and have further explored with this Spotify playlist entitled ‘How I missed home and crossed the ocean’.
I spent a good while tweaking this playlist so that the songs flowed in a way that satisfied my love for the ocean. The first section is about the intensity and immediacy of desire that the ocean can carry.
A track that exemplifies this feeling is ‘One for the Road’ by Welsh post-hardcore band Funeral for a Friend. It’s from ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’, their 2007 concept album about a fisherman lost at sea trying to get home. I interpret the song is told from the fisherman’s wife’s perspective as she ponders the weight of her desire to talk to him when he is so far away.
The lyrics read like the painful longings of a diary, within a catchy pop-punk melody surrounded by a sound that goes from huge guitars in the chorus, to dreamy guitar in the verses. The track ends with the repeat of ‘you never lie’ sung as if someone is trying to scream it across the ocean.
In the next section of the playlist, the mood gets less epic and more introspective. If you know anything about mixing, think a low pass filter smothering the frequencies. A track that shows this is ‘At Sea’ by Australian artist Ali Barter, a hidden gem off her 2014 EP called ‘Community’. The song uses the idea of being buried out at sea as a metaphor for a struggle to communicate in a relationship. Swirling with reverb-heavy synths, the lyrics are full of intense but beautiful imagery:
And I wait at the edge of an island
Cut my feet on a beach made of diamonds
And I run, and I’m ready for the silence
The vibe then changes wildly for the last section, focusing on that bittersweet euphoric feeling I feel encapsulates the image of a sailor staring out into a vibrant twilight, thinking about home as they crash through the waves. Gang of Youths’ track ‘unison’ is a prime example of this, with lyrics that move along like a series of thoughts and epiphanies laced in poetry, which are connected to songwriter David Le’aupepe’s desire to connect to home, culture and family – alive and passed away.
When we get to the final two tracks, we’re hit with the most cliché of sailing songs, ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’ by Split Enz, which doesn’t need much of an introduction. The track has several interpretations: for me, it’s underscored by a sarcastic/mocking tone of the mindset of the English colonialists who invaded Aotearoa, the melancholy outro then representing a glimpse of the feeling left behind from the damage of the colonialists.
And finally, we end with ‘Hello Earth’ by Kate Bush, the final track of her 1984 album ‘Hounds of Love’. This track ends the concept section called ‘The Ninth Wave’, which tells the story of a woman lost at sea. It’s a huge track, laden with mystery and awe. I won’t say much about it other than recommend reading the lyrics while listening to it.
And now we move on to a quick music video playlist! I’m going to talk about some music videos and films that vaguely inspired the vibe of the ‘How I Missed Home’ video. Check them out, plus a few others, at this link.
‘Maidentrip’ – Documentary about Laura Dekker
I’m starting with the documentary that inspired the song, which was mostly all filmed by Laura as she travelled around the world. I found it a very raw and inspiring documentary, particularly as I watched it during the depths of Melbourne’s lockdown.
‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’ – Split Enz
This one is the most obvious influence, from the dramatic vintage introduction to the fake smoky swaying ship set, and campy outfits, plus the references to Aotearoa. All these elements added to the idea of creating a video that feels like it could be on a stage at a theatre.
‘This Woman’s Work’ – Kate Bush + other 1980s videos + ‘Twin Peaks’
There is a certain aesthetic in this video, and many other 80s music videos, that I’ve always been drawn to. A kind of surrealness that comes with capturing a dreamy melancholic feeling, while not trying to be realistic with acting or staging. It’s quite hard to explain, but the video of ‘This Woman’s Work’ is a fine example.
I love the way it carries this feeling through the sets and beats, almost like a play. Some other works that capture this feeling are ‘Cloudbusting’, also by Kate Bush, ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting, ‘Voices Carry’ by ’Til Tuesday and TV show ‘Twin Peaks’.
‘Heavenly’ – Sputnik Sweetheart
I discovered Sputnik Sweetheart (who are from my hometown of Canberra) from seeing this video one night watching Rage when I was recovering from long covid. I was transfixed by the video, and how the pulsating mournful energy of the song combined with the vintage dreamy aesthetic, all tied together with thoughtful editing and use of colour.
All elements that helped me discover what I think can make a great video.
‘Knees Deep’ – The Beths
Bonus video – This video taught me that a good simple idea connected to the song can make a great video, regardless of the budget. I always have such a big smile on my face after watching this one!
Check out Max Aurora & The Southern Lights, and their new release ‘How I Missed Home’