There’s something to be said for a well-paced song. The popularity of TikTok has resulted in a lot of songs that play their hand in the first twenty seconds, content to coast for the rest of the runtime in hopes that they’ll strike gold and catch the ear of an influencer. (Can you tell me anything about “death bed (coffee for your head)” outside of its hook? You see my point.) But a song that paces itself, a song that grabs your attention at the start and spends the rest of the runtime rewarding you for it? That’s much more valuable.
“Dragonfly,” a new song by the Newfoundland-based Virginia Fudge, is one of those songs. When the song starts, it’s intriguingly minimal: harmonized humming, as though Fudge’s lips are inches from our ears, before a stuttering beat kicks in. (The hums seem like they should form a loop, but in fact they shift and change with the rest of the song–a neat touch.) Fudge starts to sing, her husky alto providing a nice balance to the sing-song melody. The lyrics touch on feelings of uncertainty in a relationship: Fudge asks “are you in or are we on the outs?” before wryly admitting “all this time, I thought the truth was you.”
The song continues to build, with a piano plinking out the main melody, before Fudge enlists the help of a dragonfly: “please help me understand/how a soul could ever get so free.” Her delivery remains cool and reserved, and it’s clear that her uncertainty isn’t a sign of weakness so much as a reluctance to let herself go. The chorus, then, is the letting go, a blissful cloud of organ sweeping in as Fudge sighs “I may never get to love you again.” She sounds wistful, but not heartbroken: now, like the dragonfly, she can go where she pleases.
Is there a story behind “Dragonfly”? What was the inspiration behind the song?
I have always held an affinity for dragonflies. I find them very beautiful, and they have come to represent change and freedom for me. I imagined this to be true because when they fly, they seem to choose new directions suddenly, but also purposefully. When I wrote dragonfly, I was experiencing distress in my personal life. I had lost my sense of self, and found myself in a constant state of fear/conflict, which was out of the ordinary for me. I felt trapped and lost, and was lost in my relationships too. I admired the dragonfly, because it could pivot away from where it was so easily. I was hunting for that kind of change myself.
“Dragonfly”, along with the rest of the accompanying EP, was co-produced by you and Meg Warren. Could you tell us about how that collaboration went?
I had admired Meg Warren (formerly of the band Repartee) for years. She is a highly talented musician who is also so very kind. When she sidelined away from her career as an artist to become a music producer, I was knocking on her door in an instant. Though we lived in different places, we managed to find seven days together to record over a four month period, during Meg’s trips home from Toronto. We worked long but surprisingly easy days. For the most part Meg programmed the tracks, although the beat for dragonfly came from me. Meg engineered all captured sounds and played guitar, bass and synths. I laid the vocals, acoustic piano and some other synths. Meg was a fantastic vocal engineer which I really needed! I thrive on harmonies but always need a strong hand to hold when I lay the leads. When we had everything we needed, we then communicated about the mixes for quite some time, until things were the way we wanted. It was such a wonderful experience. I felt nothing but support and encouragement along the way, and I can’t remember one difference of opinion between us. I am so proud of what we came up with together, on our own, in just the way that we wanted.
“Dragonfly” has some unique, hypnotic production. Were you inspired by any artists in particular?
Meg heard elements of a band called The DØ during our process with “Dragonfly”. She also said that I typically write pop songs, but choose Radiohead sounds, so I’ll have to say Radiohead as well. Generally through the years, I have been inspired by Bjork, Fiona Apple, Sarah Slean, Beck and more recently Sylvan Esso, Andrew Bird, Andy Shauf, Aldous Harding, and Maggie Rogers.
In addition to your music, you’re also a teacher and a mother. How do you balance those three responsibilities?
I wear a lot of hats for sure. There’s my daughter Lily and my three step-daughters, plus my little kindergartners every day… the dog and the cats….my friends and other family and all the obligations and good times they bring to me….it means that I have to find and make time to record! And as for time to write….I wish that I could pencil that in as easily. But of course good ideas don’t necessarily appear when we want them to, but when the mind is clear or at least focused. The best thing I have found is to take care of myself as best I can and set up all the many parts of my life as well as I can, so that pockets of headspace can be found where ideas can come to the surface.
What are your aspirations for the future?
In the future I hope to gain skills as a music producer. I love to collaborate and want to work with more artists. My co-write “Hope to Bring” (performed by Rachel Cousins) found a sync placement on a Canadian television drama. I am so proud of this and would love to continue to write for TV and move into film as well. I would call that living the dream. It’s a lofty thing to hope for, but I love being a dreamer. So I guess that in short, I really just hope to continue to dream!