The joy of writing a concept album
It always felt natural to write about myself. It helped to ease my anxiety in the purest way by emptying my heart onto a page. But I knew it didn't have to be forever. I didn't have to stay rigidly within the lines of writing about real experiences or emotions.
Once i'd written enough songs about my life, I felt like I needed a break. A chance to step back and survey where I was and where I was heading. Being a restless creative however, it was intrinsic that I continued to make music. Having written many a novel in my lifetime (all of which were infamously terrible or worse - left unfinished) I already had a penchant for creating characters and stories, therefore I felt tackling a concept album would be an exciting and somewhat natural next step.
I created a character - Violet Royale - whose name was left undecided for many months. She was cocky, self-assured and obsessed with fame and success to the point of near self-destruction. She was a fashion risk-taker who ditched everything and everyone in favour of her dreams. I combined elements of traits I would like to have, along with exaggerated traits of my own and a few i'd most-likely be horrified to learn I had.
With a concept record, I guess you have to decide how far you're going to take it. Will you map out an entire plot for your character, making sure every single lyric fits in with the timeline of the story? Or will you simply write about loose themes relating to the plot, making sure that the instrumentation and song order stays true to the concept. I guess you could say that with my album Double Life, I took the latter route.
The beauty of writing for a character is the additional freedom that comes with it. You can almost put them in any situation, give them any opinion and make your instrumental as crazy as you like, cause hey, the character did it.
One thing I remained aware of however, was the tendency to take the concept too far and therefore alienate any listeners who weren't used to the use of characters or plot-driven songs in my previous work. With Double Life, I introduced a character I could potentially re-use in the future. A story left deliberately unfinished so my listeners could create their own ideas of what happened next. An alter ego I could perform as one day, and an entire new world to explore.
The joy of writing a concept album is the endless list of possibilities it creates.