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Verse Chorus Verse: Pacific Heights

Thursday 31st March 2016

The story behind the new song from Pacific Heights and Louis Baker.


Photo: Supplied

Verse Chorus Verse sees local artists break down the stories behind their music. For the latest in the series, we asked Wellington-based songwriter/producer Devin Abrams - better known as Pacific Heights - to fill us in on his just-released new single, 'Buried by the Burden'. It comes from his upcoming album, The Stillness, his first release in eight years, which is due out on May 27.


Since first hearing Louis Baker, I knew we should make a song together.  He has one of those voices that instantly stirs the emotion out of you. Something I try and search for within my own creations.

How this song took off initially wasn’t intentional. Louis had come round to my studio to have a quick look into using Logic (a DAW/music production software). My suggestion was to take something that Louis had started, and open it up on my machine so we could look at it how I would normally see things. The idea that we looked at was a simple guitar loop and a vocal part – the vocal part being the one you hear in the chorus of this song.

Naturally both of us took to adding new parts and melodies that quickly formed the bones of the song. We worked off and on together at my studio over the following months until we both reached a point where we felt happy. 

The vocals were all recorded casually and with no pressure. I said to Louis that we were just tracking demo takes and could redo everything later. I believe this setting caught some very intimate moments within Louis’ vocal takes. In fact, the whole production of this song was like that - it was one of those beautifully rare moments you catch writing music, when something very personal and fragile makes its way into a song.  

The song for us has several layers of possible meanings. ‘Buried by the Burden’ as a title represents the core issue of the internal and unseen battles. These battles could be with depression, anxiety, memory loss, grief, or heartbreak. Ultimately these internalised human conditions have a significant impact on us and they’re ones that are often masked. The idea of the song was to try and verbalise/translate these feelings through a piece of music, which would hopefully give the listener a moment of pause and peace. I feel with this song that we achieved that; at least I feel that way when I listen to it.

On top of our feelings about this song, Sam Peacocke who directed the breathtaking visual companion has his own interpretation, which I love.

“The perceptions of memories flowing through our subconscious minds are, for the most part, three dimensional records of events past. Personally these records are always incomplete, distant facsimiles of the real thing, damaged and warped by my own prejudice and cursed by the repetitive cycles of hindsight. In a way, this project replicates the constantly decaying mechanism of memory by way of the techniques used to make it.

“Within these digital memories exists the beautiful, ghostly spectre of a young woman standing alone. She looks away from us and, although the memory desperately attempts to reveal her face, she remains somehow just out of reach, impossible to perceive through the haze of disillusion.”

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