How To Dress Well
- Posted on Oct 15th 2012 3:00PM by Ian Gormely
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Talking via cell phone as he crossed the border from the States into Canada, Krell describes his debut, 2011's Love Remains, as a sonic presentation of depression. As such, his voice spends much of the record inaudibly muffled.
"When you're in the throws of melancholy, the scream is suffocated and turns out to be a whisper," he tells Spinner.
Going down a different path, Total Loss is about mourning and melancholy.
"There's this head above water feeling," he says. "You have a relationship with loss that leads to the future rather than being forever stuck in the moment of that loss."
The line "You were there for me when I was in trouble" appears twice on the record; the first time, in the opening track "When I Was in Trouble," then again on "Struggle." Yet Krell has remained somewhat coy about its double meaning.
"No one has really pulled that out yet," he says. "This is the first time that I've given an answer to an interview question that wasn't totally canned."
The repeated line refers to "two very different kinds of loss," he says. "Once, I'm singing to my mom and once I'm singing to my best friend. My mom is still alive, but she's very unwell and my best friend was very well and young and vital and just died."
Krell explains that his friend Brian died suddenly in his sleep.
"He was my best friend for years. He was in and out of mental institutions and when I heard what happened, I assumed he had taken his own life. But he hadn't. He just died spontaneously. He lived really hard and I think he just used up whatever, 78 or 85 years of life in one quarter of those years."
He describes Brian's passing as "more violent and sudden and unexpected." His mother, on the other hand, "is still very much alive." Her ongoing illness, which he doesn't specify, is "the living process of losing them, and almost in a way that you've become accustomed to losing them over the course of the loss."
Krell, and the listener, finally find some resolution to all this pain on album centrepiece "Set it Right," a song recorded on the one-year anniversary of Brian's death. After pummeling listeners with the song's intense (and loud) first half, the music pulls back and Krell finally finds his moment of clarity.
"The bridge came up and I didn't know what I wanted to sing," he says. "I was just going to freestyle in the booth and see what hit me."
The result was a soul-bearing truth: "Jamie, I miss ya; Mama, I miss ya; and Dad, I miss ya..."
"I just had this intuition of all the people who are still in my life that I don't often get the chance to honor on record and tell them that I miss them," he says. "That felt very appropriate. The positive lesson that I learned from the loss of my friend, one year later, [was] how to cherish the people in my life."