“So… I guess this song is about a previous partner?”
I’ve been asked questions like this a few times now since Unsubscribe came out, and so I thought I’d explain where the song came from – and reassure the world that my marriage is fine, and definitely not the subject of this song!
In the early days of my songwriting, every song was pretty much directly from my own experience. Examples include my Sass & Grit songs No Time Blues and Just ask Mama. Some of my more recent songs are still reflections of my own life – for example, Labour of Love from the current album. However, I find that as I continue to write, the process is changing somewhat. Every song draws on my own experience and feelings, and every song has an emotional truth that resonates with me. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the sequence of events in the song is about me or is drawn from my own life.
The initial idea for Unsubscribe came from a conversation with my three boys during a bushwalk. I can’t remember what we were discussing, but I remember Stuart saying, “I’m unsubscribing from this conversation.” And I realised in a flash that this would be a great idea for a breakup song. I came up with a chorus idea, with a melody and a few lines of lyrics (some of them still remain in the final version), but then the song sat there for some time. This ‘composting’ stage is a very important part of the process for me. As the idea sits there in the back of my mind, it is gradually growing and maturing. This is the longest stage for most of my songs.
When I came back to Unsubscribe, I was doing a songwriting course while getting through Sydney’s 2021 lockdown. By this stage in the lockdown, I was definitely starting to identify with the idea of escaping – not from my own relationship, but just from the isolating and restricting life we were all struggling with, which was taking a toll on my mood. So these feelings and a real longing for freedom filtered through into the song.
And writing the assertive lines was incredibly cathartic. You know that experience of leaving an unpleasant conversation and then thinking of a whole lot of great rebuttals that you should have come up with at the time? I put all of those words and feelings into this song. I guess I was standing up to covid and telling it where to go! I’m not sure it really listened, but I felt a lot better afterwards.
In the music video, I was trying to capture the sense of freedom implicit in the choruses and ending (and heightened by the fabulous flugel horn solo played by Jeff Barnsley) by using the scenes in the convertible. But I didn’t want to ignore the suffering that came before the escape. And please do remember that if you are suffering from domestic or family violence, you can call 1800 RESPECT for help.
Despite the name of the song, I’d love it if you would subscribe! You can support me by listening on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music or any other streaming platform, and by saving the song and adding it to your playlists. You can follow me as an artist on any of these platforms to find out about new releases. You can join my mailing list, and subscribe to my YouTube channel! The next song is just around the corner, coming out on September 14th… I’m looking forward to sharing it with you!