You remember high-school right?
The first real party, the first real relationship, the first real break-up. The summer that seemed to stretch on forever, the fights that seemed world-ending with people whose names you no longer remember, the parties that were so fun at the time but now you try hard to forget.
No matter who you ask, chances are their teenage years were a turbulent time – full of maddeningly high highs and crushingly low lows. Things can feel hopeless and ecstatic and boring and reckless all at once, and anyone who’s ever lived through it knows how intense it can be.
“Slow Down” feels like an antidote to growing up’s breakneck pace.
Its genius lies in the fact that it sneaks up on you. When you first listen, despite the song urging you to take a step back and breathe, everything in you tells you to do the opposite. You get caught up in the catchy hook of the chorus, in the slow build of the bridge, in the deliciously danceable pangs of electric guitar that catch you off-guard.
At first, “Slow Down” makes you want to do anything but.
That’s the idea. It sidles its way into your summer playlist, becoming the teen-movie soundtrack to barbeques and beach days and unsupervised house parties. The flightiness of the keys and the wailing of the saxophone are both irresistible, and they ensure the track stays upbeat enough to keep you company on the dancefloor.
However, it sticks around for the quiet moments too. Whether that’s the characteristic end-of-a-party comedown, a messy breakup, or the drifting away of the friends you’ve always known that so often accompanies graduating – “Slow Down” fits effortlessly into the background. Then and only then, when you need it most, do you notice the lyrics.
That’s when you realise what it’s been trying to tell you all along.
Victors wrote the song to explore the fall-out that accompanies the bad times, the mental health issues that can spring from lost friendships and lost love. Just as the opening line says, this impact “doesn’t have to be dramatic” – sometimes it is soft, and quiet, and slow. In short: it’s not the kind of subject matter people want to hear about until it becomes their own story.
That’s why I think this song is so clever. By hiding such a comforting but sombre message in a summery indie banger, they ensure it will be heard when and where their listeners need it most. Anyone can dance along, learn the lyrics, get the moral stuck in their head – but the people who really need to slow down will have that advice echoed back at them in a familiar way.
So go ahead and listen to it yourself, but don’t forget to come back here to hear the band’s own words on everything from mental health to melody construction.
How did you get into music and songwriting?
All of us were in previous bands during school so we were always writing songs growing up; It’s just always been a part of our lives.
What is your favourite thing about it?
We love the pure freedom of self-expression and being able to get a message across that we maybe couldn’t communicate in normal conversation. People really feel every word you say when you put those words to music.
Is that the main reason you write?
We feel our songs should always try to tell a story and connect us with people that we wouldn’t normally connect with in everyday life. We also want to better ourselves and evolve with every release.
What part of writing comes easiest to you?
To be honest, it isn’t easy. We often have numerous versions of a song before we end on the final thing, and then other times the whole songwriting process happens in 20 minutes. When it does happen though, it’s the best feeling in the world.
How did you find your current style?
We always knew we wanted a four-piece, with drums, two guitars and bass, but it’s taken a couple of years to find ourselves genre-wise. We went from more rocky stuff to indie rock, to a more 80s synth pop, and we’re still evolving!
How do you think modern listening habits impact songwriting?
Nowadays, everything is so easily accessible, you can have anything straight away with the click of a mouse. That means you have to make an impact in the first 10 seconds.
What is your favourite song of all time? and why?
We all have our favourite artists and songs, but they vary from day to day depending on how we’re feeling and what mood we’re in. Just a couple of examples are;
- “Black or White” – Michael Jackson
- “Cream” – Woo Tang Clan
- “Don’t Dream It’s Over” – Crowded House
- “Disco Yes” – Tom Misch
What makes a good song?
Simple. Any song that makes you really feel something, or that you can relate to in some way, is a good song.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a songwriter?
Don’t force it.
Where do you start when you write a song?
It completely varies from song to song. Sometimes it comes from jamming, sometimes it comes from messing around on a laptop. Most of the time, however, its the music that comes first, and usually vocal melodies and lyrics are last.
Do you co-write? How does it work?
No, we write all our own songs individually between the four of us.
How do you write a melody?
We often try to put some kind of hook in each song to make it memorable but, other than that, we usually just try to write what we’d like to listen to.
How do you write lyrics?
Harry writes most of the lyrics, but usually, the others throw in ideas as well. He has a notes page on his phone that he is constantly adding to all the time, which contains everything from experiences to observations.
Would you rather write about personal experiences or general themes, and which approach comes more easily?
The majority of our songs are based on personal experience and feelings in some way or another because it’s easier to convey feelings across when it’s real. We usually try and write what we know.
Which is more important to you, lyrics or sound?
We believe both are equally important. You want to make people move physically and dance, but you also want people to listen to what you have to say. Our songs are usually upbeat and dancey but with deep emotional lyrics, which we find to be an interesting juxtaposition.
What emotions do you want your music to inspire?
As long as people are enjoying it and connecting with it and are wanting to share it, that means the world to us.
Do you write with your electro-pop sound in mind, or do you write acoustically and translate the song to that?
Yes, we write with the final song in mind, however, we can start with just a piano and a vocal melody.
What role does production play in your writing?
It’s extremely important for us to get the right production, to the find the right person to capture exactly what we want. Two people can produce the same song and have completely different outcomes.
Do you tend to start with a main goal to write towards, or shape the track along the way?
We start with the main goal, but the smaller details like instrumentations and vocal melodies come towards the end of the writing process.
What was the first part of “Slow Down” to be written?
It was the chorus instrumental. Matty (drums) wrote it on his first by himself and then brought that idea to us and we all jumped on board immediately.
Is this about a specific relationship/story, and would you be willing to share?
It’s not about a specific relationship exactly, it’s more of a generalisation of real-life situations and experiences – personally and within our society.
How did the spoken intro line happen, and how does it play into the meaning of the song?
We knew from the beginning that we wanted a spoken line at the start of the song because it was a different artistic choice that we hadn’t explored yet. We also figured that an American accent would be better, so we got in touch with a friend of Simon’s, our guitarist. As we were trying to think of the words themselves, Matty, said ‘it doesn’t have to be a dramatic line’. We enjoy that it’s self-aware, but also completely open to interpretation.
Can you walk me through the meaning of the second verse? In particular the line: ‘you’ve been onto this your whole life?’
Again its open to interpretation, however my personal approach with these lyrics was to refer back to past lyrics. Saying ‘Acting all like she’s dressed in white’ in Tonight, and then in Slow Down, ‘dressed in black’ could show a transition of character. ‘You’ve been onto this your whole life’ shows this transition was inevitable.
How would you describe the main theme of the song?
People often keep things to themselves and let negative feelings and stress build up rather than talking about it and, in doing so, they make things ten times worse. Mental health is a massive issue that doesn’t get talked about often enough and ‘Slow Down’ is about taking a step back, realising you’re not alone and that everyone goes through things. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and ‘Slow Down’ explores just one example of what can stem from mental health issues.
What’s your favourite part of “Slow Down”?
We like that ‘My minds a place where mistakes are made’ is placed in a dreamy atmospheric middle eight because it emphasises the idea that it’s in your head. It was also the first time we’ve worked with a sax, so that was cool.
What do you want listeners to take away from it?
It’s a combination of bringing important issues to light, and also a sense of where we are evolving and progressing to as a band.
What’s next for you in terms of upcoming music/shows?
We’ve got new material coming out this year that we’re really excited about, and a few festivals over the summer with still more to be announced. Just check our social media for any news!
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