In the midst of a pandemic and recent protests calling to end police violence, musicians are still creating new songs to help people process emotions they may be feeling. Daniel Heffington, a singer and songwriter from Virginia and Will Chapman, the drummer for Tennessee-based alternative indie rock band Colony House, released a collaboration back in late April. The song, “Voices,” was written by Heffington, but Chapman gave the song a new twist by remixing the musical foundation and arrangement. “Voices” provides a raw glimpse into the negative emotions one can experience, making it relevant to the current climate.
The Red & Black spoke with Heffington about creating this remix with Chapman, the challenges they faced and why being a musician is important during this time.
The Red & Black: How did you and Will Chapman get connected and decide to collaborate?
Daniel Heffington: We connected on Instagram a couple years ago because I was a fan of his and we struck up a couple short convos. I then heard he was doing remixes and asked if he would consider remixing one of my songs. He was down, but I wanted to make sure I brought him in on the right song. After I released the original version of “Voices” in January, I knew that it would be the perfect track. He was down with the idea and we were ready to go right when the coronavirus lockdown hit.
R&B: What was the writing process for “Voices”? How are the lyrics meaningful to you and how do you think others can relate to them?
DH: I wrote “Voices” from a personal and raw place. It's about the negative narratives that fight for dominance in my headspace so often. It's not a song with a bunch of tidy answers—it's more of a line in the sand and a rallying cry that enough is enough. I think it connects with people because we all have our own versions of the same process. I think it would be awesome if this song can unite a bunch of diverse individuals with a common resolve to resist the internal "voices" that insert negativity, anxiety and condemnation into our hearts and minds.
R&B: “Voices” has many different sounds and it seems each time one listens to it, they discover something new. How did you and Will incorporate both of your styles into this song?
DH: Exactly! That's one of the things I love about it too. And the credit for the vast majority of the sounds and tones in the remix goes to Will. I had heard his remix work for bands like Switchfoot and Judah and the Lion and I knew that I loved his instincts and wanted to give him free reign. His remixes have this larger-than-life ‘80s soundtrack vibe blended with modern production elements and crazy glitches that just somehow work. Makes them feel nostalgic and current at the same time. I was blown away when he sent me back this soundscape of beautifully dirty drum tones and moody synth pulses that was stark, dark, and insanely satisfying.
R&B: Was this collaboration a learning experience? Does being a musician take on a whole new meaning during a time where there are no concerts and recording is more difficult?
DH: One hundred percent. I think this time has brought music back to the basics for a lot of people. Suddenly there's a whole lot less of the sexy rock and roll perception that can accompany professional musicians. But the beautiful thing is that in those very non-glam moments, music still snuck up and captured my heart like it did when I was a kid. A lyric or a melody still has the power to revolutionize my day. And it's been very inspiring to see that music holds strong even when the commercial aspect grinds to a halt. It's deeper than the charts and playlists.”
R&B: As a musician, why do you think it’s important to continue making music during this time?
DH: Because music is part of how we make sense of our stories, process our surroundings, and grieve the hard things. It's also part of how we dance in the face of bleak circumstances. There's a defiance in creating something beautiful when our more reptilian instincts would have us glued to the headlines or hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer. It's certainly a privilege to have the choice and not be sick in the hospital or something, but I think the world benefits when those of us who can choose to create something beautiful that, strictly speaking, is ‘unnecessary’ for survival.