“Let’s Just Dance … a healthy dose of my own production influences, along with a really fun collaboration.”
Los Angeles based duo, Ships Have Sailed, open their powerful new video for “Let’s Just Dance” with genuine moment between friends, sharing their opinions on what’s next. Underneath the jabs lies a subtle, yet profound theme to follow your dreams, be yourself and don’t let anything get in the way. Simultaneously, the setting evokes live in the here and now moments, and what follows is an anthem filled with melodies and rhythmic layers to support that.
For Will Carpenter and Art Andranikyan, the new music is a bit of a departure from their previous acoustic-based, ‘Whispers’. This past year, Carpenter found himself exploring and blending a mix of relative genres. The result in songs like “Let’s Just Dance”, is a beautiful explosion of sounds, instruments, techniques and voice that take you on a rather transparent journey.
I recently caught up with Carpenter, who here, takes us inside the both prolific and simple songwriting process of Ships Have Sailed.
Given the blend of your genres and influences — how does a song start for you? Is it writing on a piano or an acoustic guitar?
Each song is different…they tend to pop into my head at weird times, so most actually start with an awkwardly sung voice-note and some text notes to myself. A lot of ideas come to me in public places, so I’ve learned to try to be as inconspicuous as possible when voice-noting, but I’ve gotten some really weird looks from people on airplanes, restaurants, parks, etc… Once the idea is documented, I usually revisit it and determine whether it should start on keyboard or guitar. Honestly, the songs themselves tend to make that choice!
Where do you tend to write? Do you have to be in a certain environment or place? Do you prefer to write alone or collaborate?
Once the idea happens, I usually revisit my voice notes once I’m back near my home studio, which is a really comfortable place for me to write. With that said, I don’t have to be in a studio — I do collaborate with co-writers at times, and so sometimes we’ll just be in someone’s living room, or outdoors somewhere. I think for writing, the setting isn’t always so important, but rather the energy you’re feeling for the song.
With one of your newer songs, “Lets Just Dance” — can you take us inside writing that song? How did it start and what was the process? Were the lyrics the last thing?
With “Let’s Just Dance” the first half of the chorus was the initial idea — it just started repeating in my head one night as I was trying to get to sleep…around 2am. It wouldn’t leave me alone and that part of the song is super repetitive — if you can imagine it just repeating over and over (without the b-section of the chorus) it was almost annoying how persistent it was, but I realized if I was going to get to sleep I had to document it, so I went into the studio and just did an open-air scratch of the idea with an acoustic guitar and my voice and was able to go to bed. The next morning, I went in and listened to the scratch and the second part of the chorus just kinda finished itself, but I was a little uninspired when I was trying to flesh out the verses, so I brought in a friend of mine (Robert Gillies) who is an amazing songwriter and asked if he wanted to help out. We started just by talking about life and the verses just kinda came out easily after that. This song, it’s really been about the different collaborations which have all served to make it what it has become, it’s been amazing watching it grow and change!
You open the video with a powerful scene amongst friends, one I can certainly relate to. What was your aim there? And why that subject matter?
Well, honestly, the treatment and concept for the video isn’t something I can take much credit for. I did have an idea for a concept when I reached out to Jaala and Michael from TalkboyTV (the folks who produced and directed the video), but we didn’t end up using it because ultimately what they came up with was much more powerful and when I read the treatment they sent me after spending some time with the song, it just felt like the right story. I think it is really relatable, and I also think this type of nostalgia, uncertainty and emotion captures exactly what the song itself is about.
Transitioning from ‘Whispers’ which was acoustic based, how did you land on the sound of your new record?
‘Whispers’ was really the diversion for us actually. If you look at our first EP ‘Someday’ and our full-length album ‘Moodswings’ you can see that we started with full production rather that starting stripped down, but ‘Whispers’ was the result of having a couple opportunities to actually play stripped down acoustic shows and realizing that our music really did translate that way as well…so we decided to do an EP that was completely acoustic, and it was really well received by our fans. With that said, with both ‘Up’ (our single from last year) and “Let’s Just Dance” we wanted to get back to our more full-sounding vibe, and so that’s what we’ve done, although in slightly different ways for both tracks. I would say the sound for “Let’s Just Dance” is a healthy dose of my own production influences, along with a really fun collaboration with Wally Gagel, who’s produced such artists as Zella Day, Family of the Year, etc… again, the collaborations wound up being key in finding the direction for this track!
What were some of your biggest influences and inspirations?
Far too many to count! I have a huge range of musical tastes, spanning from the classical era, and all decades of pop music from the 1950’s all the way through today. Lately I’ve been revisiting my 90’s ‘Grunge’ roots…perhaps because we’ve been unfortunately losing a bunch of artists from that generation lately, and I’ve been getting nostalgic. With that said, I love all my old faves, but also love discovering new things…nothing is off-limits as far as what I listen to or what I allow to creep into the influences for Ships Have Sailed. I really like to keep the creative process as open and free as possible.
Did your culture in Los Angeles play a part in inspiring your new music?
I definitely think not only Los Angeles, but the lifestyle of an aspiring artist really informed the writing for “Let’s Just Dance”. Certainly everyone has a different dream, but music has always been that start I chase, and it definitely plays into the theme for the song, and LA generally has so many ‘dream-chasers’ it’s hard not to be inspired there, you know?
What are you most looking forward to? What’s on tap for Ships Have Sailed?
This year is going to be a creation year. I’ve got a ton of ideas I need to be developing, so there will be a lot of time to play in the studio and work on whatever’s coming next. Haven’t quite decided what that will be, but there’s definitely some new music in the early stages of being created.
I loved answering these questions, thank you so much for the opportunity! And for anyone reading who hasn’t heard our new single, we’d love it if you checked it out and then get in touch over social media and let us know what you think! One of our favorite things is receiving feedback from our listeners, it’s a really valuable part of the creative process for us, and we do respond personally…looking forward to connecting with you!
~ Will Carpenter / Ships Have Sailed
Check out the new video for “Let’s Just Dance”
If you enjoyed, please recommend below and sign up for our newsletter