We asked Loquat’s lead vocalist, Kylee Swenson, to give us a few words on the story behind each of the band’s tracks on their sophomore release, “Secrets of the Sea.”

“I would like people to listen to the stories,” she says. “I hope people connect with it in some way.”

“Harder Hit”

Our drummer Christopher was going through a rough patch in his life, precipitated by some pretty awful circumstances. A couple close friends died, his apartment burned down (he was carried out in the middle of the night by a fireman), he lost his job…. After that, it was like he expected and almost invited bad things to happen him. The only way I could think of getting through to him was writing this song about creating a path through all the obstacles. It’s like trying to get through a really dense forest. You have to break some branches to do it.

“Who Can Even Remember?”

Years ago, I lived in this amazing little town in Germany called Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It was like a fairy tale with the mountains and the emerald lake and the cows being herded through the town before sunset. Everything about that time was like a dream. Then I moved back to California, and reality set in. This song is basically about being young and naƒ¯ve and trusting people too much. As time passes, you gain perspective, and many of the crappy events from your past don’t matter anymore. And hopefully you are a little wiser and don’t make the same mistakes you once did.

“Sit Sideways”

My friend Noel’s dad died a while ago, and it broke my heart because I could see that he was really in pain about it, but I couldn’t do anything to help him. Shortly after, about 30 of us went on a houseboat trip to Shasta Lake, and I wrote this about us distracting Noel and his wife. I’m not suggesting that drugs and alcohol are a solution to any of life’s problems, but in times of intense grief, it’s good to have a little reprieve, and getting drunk with a bunch of your friends on a houseboat can temporarily relieve the pain.

“Big Key, Little Door”

I’ve had a few too many moments where lack of confidence got the best of me, and I’ve had to give myself a lot of pep talks. This is one reason I loved Alice in Wonderland. In this song, I picture myself as Alice when she’s in the long hall trying to figure out which door to take. Every decision she makes is wrong. She shrinks and can’t reach the key on the table; then she grows and can’t fit through the tiny door. Finally, she starts crying, shrinks again and is swept under the door by her own tears and washes up on a beach where she meets a bunch of talking animals arguing about something. It’s all about fearlessly taking a leap into the unknown.

“Comedown’s Worse”

Some people I know, including myself, have short fuses. Driving is one of those things that can make people go crazy and do stupid things. But in general, when people set you off, it doesn’t pay to engage or light the fuse. Most of us will regret letting the volcano blow. We all need to chill out a little, step back and understand that-albeit in a somewhat cheesy way-Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t worry, be happy”) and Richard Carlson (“Don’t sweat the small stuff [and it’s all small stuff]”) were right.

“These Kinds of Friends”

When I was about three years old, my mom had a really serious brain disease called Encephalitis, which kept her in the hospital for a long time. My dad was either working or at the hospital, and I was an only child, so I remember being alone a lot. I had a nanny, but she didn’t like me too much, so I would spend my time walking around my neighborhood in South Minneapolis talking to the birds and the squirrels. Even as an adult, I sometimes still prefer those kinds of friends to people, and I love people, but you know…sometimes you need a break. Sometimes your cat is a better friend to you than anyone else.

“Go Hibernate”

A lot of people assume all our songs are about romantic relationships, which is pretty far from the truth. But here’s the relationship song: My husband (and Loquat bass player) Anthony and I both have fire-y personalities, and there are times when he makes me want to light the house on fire and run screaming. The ironic part of this song was that, on New Year’s Day, we were watching March of the Penguins, and Anthony was so moved by it, he decided that day that he would ask me to marry him. And I decided that day to write song about how insane he makes me. But the conflict resolves in the end of the song, with me coming to my senses and calming down.

“Clearly Now…”

Every once in a while, someone will say something or write something about you (especially with the Internet being a forum to air out people’s dirty laundry publicly) that will make you feel like you’ve been stabbed. This is about growing a thicker skin. Maybe if the shy kids in junior high and high school listen to this, it’ll help them to toughen up a little. I pretty much hated 7th grade to 10th grade because I was so sensitive, and the other kids were so shitty.

“In My Sleep”

A few years ago, I got a message from my friend Keith. I immediately thought, “I can’t believe it’s been four months, and I haven’t talked to him.” Then I found out that it wasn’t my former bandmate Keith Krate who called me but another friend…to tell me that Keith had died of an overdose. It really broke my heart. I felt guilty for letting too much time pass and not being a part of his life when I should’ve. And I just felt sad that one of the funniest, most talented people I knew was gone. For the next two weeks, I kept seeing something in my kitchen, peripherally. I started to freak out because it felt like he was there. And I started having nightmares about ghosts. This was my way of making peace with him.

“Shaky Like the Flu”

The last two songs are inspired by the movie Big Fish. In this one, I’m speaking to the son of the apparently delusional father who kept embellishing his stories to make his life seem more interesting. When the father dies, the son realizes that not only was there a lot more truth to his dad’s stories than he thought, but his embellishments were part of the reason people loved him. In the bridge, I bring my own life into the mix, talking about how my great-grandfather and grandfather had just passed away, and they were “off the pier and rowing,” on to the next phase (an afterlife, if you will). It’s tough when you realize a whole generation of your family is almost gone.

“Spiral Stairs or Escalators”

This is part two of my ode to Big Fish. I used to hate it when my dad told me to “lighten up” (mainly because he sounded angry when he said it). But being lighthearted is a good thing. Also, it’s hard to figure out your path in life early on. When I was a kid, I always thought I’d have my own house with a backyard, but here I am living in one of the most expensive cities in the world (San Francisco), and I can still only afford to rent. No matter how much you plan, life doesn’t ever turn out exactly how you thought it would. But you gotta run with it and just try to be happy.

About The Author

Elizabeth Raftery is senior editor of Blast. Follow her on Twitter.

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