Synthwave is a nostalgic, largely instrumental genre of electronic music. We provided a three-part guide to synthwave here. In a new weekly series, we look at songs that have defined the genre and interview the creators behind them.
College, the musical guise of David Grellier, was one of the very first acts on the synthwave scene. His album Secret Diary released in 2008, is truly an album to fall in love with. However, many know College through his work on the Drive soundtrack; his collab ‘A Real Hero‘ is perhaps the most well known synthwave song.
This week we look at his 2014 song ‘Save The Day’, a sweet track that sounds a bit like drizzle on a warm summer afternoon. Nola Wren sings with a clarity, a childlike innocence that rubs well against the dreamy soundscape. It’s an elegant song, with masterfully arranged synth loops and romantic, poetic lyricism.
We spoke to David and Nola about the track.
1. How did you come to write ‘Save The Day’?
DG: “I composed ‘Save The Day’ to pay tribute to the stalker movie genre of 70’s like Dressed to Kill or Klute. Nola wrote the lyrics with this universe in mind.”
NW: “The first time I heard the instrumental I noticed how the lead arpeggiated bass-line had a haunting, ominous quality to it, but then the higher synth part that picks up in the chorus had a charming sweetness to it — almost like a twisted, disco-paced lullaby.”
“I set out to write something from the perspective of someone who isn’t exactly a hero, but isn’t necessarily a villain either.”
2. How would you describe the story of ‘Save the Day’?
NW: “When David asked me to collaborate with him on his EP in 2014, he told me it was going to be called Save The Day. For inspiration, he had referenced several 70’s and 80’s thrillers such as Klute, Dressed to Kill, and Eyes of Laura Mars.”
“On some level, all these films deal with the idea of having a secret life, of danger hiding in plain sight, and things not always being what they seem. They also featured female leads who more or less subvert the audience’s expectations.”
“Truth be told, I wrote the majority of the lyrics while riding on the subway coming home from work late at night in NYC. I would listen to the track on repeat in my headphones.”
“This was a time that I often felt most vulnerable and paranoid. But between my ears, I held the power to rewrite myself into the different role, a role where I didn’t need anyone to “save” me. In other words, maybe I’m the one who does the saving. Or, maybe the creepy guy who’s harassing me should actually fear me.”
“There are definitely some clues sprinkled in the verses that hint there’s something a little strange about this person who is singing about doing heroic things, all the while demanding your blind trust and urging you to hurry up and not be afraid.”
Read our previous Secrets of Synth with Speed Limits here.