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WPGM Commentary: Marie Naffah Wants To Feel Alive On ‘I Want More’

My name is Marie Naffah and my new song “I Want More” is an ode to the things that make us feel alive.

I moved to Madrid last Summer and built myself a ramshackle studio out of a pokey wardrobe. I needed to write my next EP. Every day, I’d shut the squeaky sliding door of the closet, (with difficulty some days when the sun shone and the vermouth called). I knew one thing when approaching this record – It would be called Trains.

I’d spent the previous fifty days taking trains around the UK. I’d had the crazy idea to play 50 Gigs in 50 Days to celebrate the return of live music after months without it. By the end of the tour, I’d traveled three times the length of the UK by Great Western Rail. I really should learn how to drive.

But I love trains. And it’s on these trains that the first part of the creative process happened. The reflection time you get on long journeys is really important for me. If you get a window seat, it feels like you’re the star of a movie watching things go past. Windows provide a kind of romance around travel and dreaming. I scribbled a lot of things down in journals on those trips. Those scribbles became the basis for my next EP.

So, back in Madrid, I leafed through the pages of my journal. Early on, between gig four in Shrewsbury and five in Huddersfield I’d written the words “I want more, I want more, I want more!!!!!” frantically. I’d been referring to having more of a specific feeling – a pang for electricity, buzz and spontaneity that I associate with live performance. I’d missed it so much – it’s hard to explain how much.

Reading those notes, I compared the state of pure angst, apathy and pointlessness that I (and so many others) felt in lockdown and the pure elation I felt performing live again. That’s what ‘I Want More’ is all about. It’s about wanting more of the things that make you feel alive. That make the world sparkle.

The first verse has the line ‘I put the tip of my tongue on the side of a gun and I tempted fate’ which relates to how riveting it can feel to take a risk. The pre chorus which says ‘It’s a phase’ is referring to the kind of thing that parents say when teenagers act out. Because that’s how I felt when I wrote it.

I felt like I was rebelling against boredom, monotony, repetition, in a sort of teenage outburst. I wanted more and I wasn’t going to settle for ‘fine’. The chorus is meant to be a shake of the shoulders, an outburst where I’m explaining that “life can be bigger than this so stop drifting through it!

The second verse is almost a sleepwalk… with lines like “drive me home from the fairground where I wander aimlessly” and “think how a carousel is just a hamster wheel with a ticket machine“. I wanted to play around with this idea of boredom, and passivity.

I think this song teeters on desperate and hopeful. I love this kind of balance, or conflict, in my music. I hope it gives my listeners permission to dream.

I took inspiration from a lot of really different music when making these songs. I originally wrote this just on an acoustic guitar because I feel like that instrument makes me say what I want to say. You can’t hide behind drums, or layers, you’re standing there, bare-faced, ready to tell your story.

I listened to heroes of mine like Leonard Cohen, Bernie Taupin, and The Beatles. I listened to loads of wonderful modern Indie chicks like Angie McMahon, Molly Payton and Big Thief. I listened to power-houses like Tina Turner and Sharon Van Etten. It’s a mix of everything. I want to thread classic songwriting into a fresh sound – and soul, it has to have soul.

Although this song is not directly about the pandemic, there is something comforting in the knowledge that most people in this world have experienced a lack of something they love. If I provide people with even a tiny sense of release, I’ve done my job.

Watch the video for “I Want More” below and stream it everywhere else here.

Words by Marie Naffah // Follow her on Twitter + Instagram

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