Los Angeles-based Singer/Songwriter and Multi-Instrumentalist December Fades pays tribute to the Black Lives we've tragically lost with his compelling and powerful single, "Say Their Names."
Able to draw in a broad fanbase through his inspirational, cathartic, and universal-friendly sound, December Fades lets his unhindered creativity shine within every piece while coming through with messages for listeners to take away and speculate.
With his recent moving single, "Say Their Names," December Fades spills nothing but the truth within his heart-tugging lyricism while exploring the sonic depths of dark Pop music. Not to mention the natural warmth and softness of December Fades' vocals, he offers a highly passionate performance while singing of the pain and trauma that our black community has undeservedly experienced.
"Say Their Names" beautifully opens with December Fades' soothing vocals while repeatedly singing the song's title. Overtop of melancholy and saddened piano melodies, the song begins in an incredibly raw, organic, and natural way.
Once short electric guitar bursts start to flare, whopping bass-like synth's power through underneath an escalating string section, shaping the song to be a modernly orchestral and cinematic piece.
Diving deeper into the song, the track's strong focal point is December Fades' striking lyrical message that pushes through with the sour truths of racism while fighting for justice with compelling lyrics like "8 and 46, no, he did not deserve this...we all see their lies, we stand by your side."
What makes this piece all the more moving is hearing the raw and biting grief that December Fades exudes merely within his voice.
We highly appreciate such a deep and meaningful piece regarding the ongoing black lives matter movement, as December Fades' single "Say Their Names" reminds us that our fight for justice is long...long overdue.
We adore each and every aspect of your meaningful single, "Say Their Names." What pushed you to do more and create a powerful single regarding the ongoing black lives matter movement?
I was in shock and disgust after watching the murder of George Floyd. He was killed in plain sight in the middle of the day by the very people that are supposed to “protect and serve.”
Watching the witnesses plead for the cops to STOP, yelling “He can’t breathe!” was truly disheartening and disturbing. Each day after, more videos of police brutality or the murder of another black person would appear. I just couldn’t take it anymore and felt called to do something about it. It was a rude awakening that burst my safe little bubble. It was a serious dose of reality that revealed a world riddled with corruption. The only way for me to deal with feelings this heavy is through music; quiet the noise and nonstop turmoil inside by picking up a guitar or playing the piano.
To create is to escape. Some of my best songs have come from the most painful moments.
Speaking on the broad and dynamic instrumentals/production within "Say Their Names," how did you formulate the sonics to offer a melancholy tone that escalates to be incredibly strong and stimulating?
Once I finished the foundation of the song - the melody, lyrics, chord progression, and form - I thought I was going to keep it bare bones. In order to allow the message and lyrics to be heard clearly, I was originally going to keep it pure and simple by only having voice and piano. At first, my mind was set on that idea. Finally, I decided to keep an open mind and allow myself to just explore. It started off with light sprinkles of instrumentation tucked way back in the mix.
After implementing some very expressive sounds and ideas, I realized that the production was actually accentuating the emotion and the message, so I ended up with the opposite of what I originally intended. It became a huge production with percussion, marching drums, strings, choirs, effects, and a dramatically dynamic bridge. The production paints a blend of beauty and sadness, hopelessness and hopefulness. It’s infuriating that these tragedies happened, but it’s beautiful to see people come together in masses to support each other; to make a difference, and peacefully protest. To keep this short I’ll only mention a few of the sonic production choices I made.
One of the aural elements, the repeating beeping rhythm underlying the hook, was based on Morse code. It’s code for SOS, which ships used for signaling extreme distress. It’s also associated with the phrase “save our souls.” I took a sine wave, muted it on and off to rhythm, added saturation, reverb, and delay to give it the color, depth, and dimension. I had to adjust the rhythm slightly to make it work. It ended up becoming an essential theme. I also utilized a sine wave in the outro to make it more tragic.
It represents the flatline you would hear from a heart monitor when someone’s heart stops beating. I also wanted the song to be grave and haunting, so the verbed out delays almost sound like lost souls responding. In the bridge, I wanted to accentuate the fight and the uprising, so I added crescendoing marching style snare drums and bass drum. I used a war drum instead of a normal kick drum throughout.
Your lyricism within "Say Their Names" is immensely descriptive and powerful. What was your songwriting process like when writing such an influential and meaningful piece? Did you face any challenges when writing your lyrics?
I wanted to tell Breonna’s, George’s, and other victims’ stories. I wanted to give the victims a voice while opening people’s hearts and minds. Reaching people through music can break down some of the walls they have built up. Taking the listener through an emotional, musical journey is much more effective than arguing. This was my opportunity to provide awareness and give them a chance to reconsider the reality.
Honestly, lyrics are probably the most challenging part of a song for me. I usually take my time to find the perfect, impactful, guiding words that trigger emotions. The lyrics usually need to steep and brew for long periods of time; however, with “Say Their Names,” I actually had more lyrical ideas than melodic ideas. I felt called to write and the words flowed freely. I explored and refined some things, but many of the original lyrical ideas remain as the foundation of the song. “8 and 46” for example, was one of my very first ideas. It’s a bit cryptic, but I’m referring to the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that Derrick Chauvin kneeled on George’s neck, which is a huge part of Floyd’s story.
Another foundational lyric, “say their names”, became the theme, the hook, and the title of the song. I knew I wanted the first verse to be about George Floyd, and the second verse to be about Breonna Taylor. Normally I keep choruses pretty consistent, which is the nature of a chorus, but with this song the chorus is like an extension of the verse lyric, evolving with each story. “Say Their Names” was my way of paying respect to and honoring the victims - telling the story of these stolen souls while calling out the evil, rotten apples that found their way into the police force. In the pre-choruses and bridge, I allude to the root causes; systemic racism, blatant racism, ego, and qualified immunity.
Even though this song is basically a memorial, I decided to drop some hope on the bridge. I’m basically saying “we hear you, we see what’s happening, we see the corruption and lies. We’re with you, we fight by your side.”
Could you tell us more about your brand and how you use your platform to shine a light on topics and events that need attention? Is this a typical occurrence for you?
Honestly, most of my songs have been about love or heartbreak, so releasing a song like this is a new step, but an essential step for me. I have a few more songs in the works that shine the light on different topics in need, and will likely release them in 2021.
I want to bring people together with my music. I hope to bring awareness and healing energy to people around the world, spreading empathy, open-mindedness, kindness, and love. Some of the most beautiful things can come from tragedy.
What has been keeping you inspired in 2020?
Although 2020 has been a crazy shit show, a lot of good things have come from it. For example, most of us have gotten to slow down. We’ve gotten to put on the brakes and reassess. Last year, I was non-stop on the go, and was often so distracted by work, social media, and other BS, that I barely had time for music.
2020 has given me the chance to reflect and re-evaluate. It helped me figure out what’s important- what I want and need, and what matters the most. I’ve been able to pause and appreciate this moment and find gratitude in just being alive and healthy. I finally found the time and courage to finish and release new music! I hadn’t released anything in over 3.5 years!! - Mainly because of fear, perfectionism, excuses, and non-stop distractions. Because of Covid, I was forced to slow down, confront a lot of emotional baggage, and then overcome it! I hope you’ve all had a similar experience.
May we all find the light in this time of darkness. 2020 has been bittersweet. This dark time has allowed us to come together and to fight for justice. All this frustration, sadness, anger, and fear has transformed into unity, strength, hope, and courage. Now the world is much more aware of the problems that exist and we are beginning to make changes for the better!
Photo by: Jerry Singleton