Little Sable Point Lighthouse

What is the origin of this song?
I’ve been fascinated by lighthouses since I was a kid growing up in California, & living in Chicago as an adult man with a driver’s license, I often drive around the perimeter of Lake Michigan into Wisconsin & Michigan where there are dozens of beautiful old lighthouses to see.

When I’m writing songs, I often start with a simple drum loop & a few chords & see what kind of feeling they give me. The lyrics to this song developed almost subconsciously as I repeated the patterns that became the song’s structure. The rhythm of the song reminded me of the revolving lamp of a lighthouse, so that became the central image of the song.

I chose a real lighthouse in Michigan for the title because I liked the way the words Little Sable Point Lighthouse sounded, & I thought it might be interesting to write about a lighthouse that had been recently deactivated from the perspective of a person who remembered when the light was still in use. The two halves of the lyrics represent a before & after.

How was the recording session?
Like most Advance Base material, I recorded this song in my basement on a Tascam 424 MKIII cassette 4-track. I recorded this song quickly using first takes during one of the rare instances when I had the house to myself. The tracks (sampler, drum machine, keyboards, Omnichord & vocals) were recorded one at a time using the same tube pre-amp, an Electro-Harmonix 12AY7 Mic Pre. Once the recordings were completed, I digitized the individual tracks & several submixes to finish the mixing & editing in Audacity. My friend Matt Bachmann mastered the song.

What were the references, influences or musical inspiration?
I don’t recall if there was a particular piece of music that inspired this song, but I had the Peter Weir film Picnic at Hanging Rock in mind when I was finishing the lyrics. The song is based on a Joan Lindsay book that I haven’t read, but I love how haunting & ambiguous that Peter Weir’s adaptation is, & I wanted to give my song a similar creepiness, but with the optimism of persevering with unanswered questions that might have once seemed unbearable.

What do you like most about the song and why?
Honestly, I just like that there’s a lighthouse in it, because I like lighthouses.

What did you most enjoyed of the writing, production and recording process?
I love the feeling of getting lost in the music & time passing unconsciously. It’s my meditation. As much as I love using music to communicate with an audience, I also use music to communicate with myself. The more I write, the better I understand myself.

What was the most difficult part of the process and how was it overcome?
With three other people that I love very much living with me in my house, & with my various other interests & professional commitments, it can be hard to find the time to record Advance Base songs. My life feels very full, which I’m grateful for, but finding the right moment & mood to completely invest myself into recording is a rarer occurrence in my life than it was when I was younger & had less going on. Working on music can feel selfish, so I don’t often give myself permission to go hide away in my basement with my keyboards & 4-track.

If you could have invited anyone else to collaborate, who would it have been and why?
I never envisioned anyone else’s involvement in this recording. It was a pleasure to write & record it on my own.

What is the biggest challenge to present this song live and how has it been solved?
The song was written & arranged with live performance in mind, so if anything, the recording was more of a challenge than the live presentation. I’d already played the song live a few times before I was satisfied that it was ready to be recorded.

Recommend us a song that you have heard lately and that you like.
“I’ll Be Yours” by The Carpenters.