by Tim Heeringa

My Song: Wulfie – Love Won’t Run Away

by Tim Heeringa

My Song: Wulfie – Love Won’t Run Away

Ōtautahi songwriter and producer Tim Heeringa, aka Wulfie, is back with a new tune, synth-heavy electronic pop ballad Love Won’t Run Away. Coming after the June release of his second EP ‘Actors’, the song also marks the debut of newcomer Lauren Marshall, whose big voice beautifully complements Wulfie’s track. NZM asked Wulfie to reflect on the new single which has already found an international following.

If we cast our thoughts back to the year 2017. I had been mulling over life in my loft apartment after breaking up with my rock band [Black Fox Trio] and feeling a bit lost for direction.

I had always wanted to have an electronic project but I didn’t know where to start. So I went through some old demos of mine and found a really simple guitar chord progression that sparked the idea. After years of writing songs about zombies, vampires and werewolves it was time to talk about some more personal issues, so I started thinking about the future and what a love song would look like from my own experiences.

Love Won’t Run Away started as a guitar-based ballad. I had sung over it but it really didn’t sit right with how I heard it in my head. I then tried it on piano, nope that’s not right, then in comes the plugin Serum to shake up my world! I made some really big, sweeping synths that felt a little more ethereal and modern that sparked the rest of the ideas.

I wanted it to hit hard and take you on an emotional journey, whether the vocals were involved or not. I actually released an early version way back then with Emily Browning on vocals but it still didn’t feel complete in my mind. Fast forward to 2021 and it finally found its complete form with an adjusted arrangement and a new vocalist. I never expected it to take years to finish but I guess that’s the creative process, and you can’t rush it!

I had shared it with friends and family to get their thoughts and they offered some thoughts into the arrangement. Apart from that it was mainly my ideas and melodies that I directed the singer on what to do. Of course, Lauren Marshall (aka Loveta) had her own input on how her voice should suit, and what sections needed more power so to speak. She really helped make it her own vocal style and that inspired me to adjust the production accordingly to match her awesome performance.

I wanted a modern love ballad. One where the production aimed to match the emotion in the vocal performance. It needed to be spacey, intense and passionate. I think I succeeded but it’s always hard to tell when you’ve listened to the layers a thousand times already. A subjective view isn’t the most accurate, so I have been relying on friends to give me advice on whether the vibe made sense or not.

The biggest challenge was my perfectionism. In all honesty, that’s why it has taken years to complete. I really don’t rate my production chops, and I would get so caught up hearing famous artists and comparing their quality to mine. I’ve done some serious soul searching and readjustment of my own self-worth so that I can release the song and feel content with the skill set I had at the time when it was completed.

The other challenge was finding a vocalist that could carry the emotion and feeling I really wanted from it. Loveta smashed it and made the whole process inspirational again. I made the song on my own and collaborated with Loveta on the vocals. It was so good to just sit back, hit record and hear her nail every note and harmony we wanted. The song was then mixed and mastered by an artist called Tim Green over in the UK.

My favourite part of Love Won’t Run Away is probably verse two: “Won’t you send me somewhere out of touch, just so you can find me in your arms. Ready for the catch, it’s coming fast. Talk to me you’re in my heart”. To me, it’s a feeling of being so in love, so content that you feel like you’re floating through space when you’re with that person. They hold your heart and your soul in their hands and every moment spent with them transcends time and space.

The second chorus is so powerful to me when Loveta brings in these massive background vocals that carry the melody through in a way I couldn’t imagine when I first wrote the song. I love the intense bass in the bridge when I’m singing. It feels gritty and intense and I’m there for it. The guitar lines at the end of the song are a really nice way to end, and I love that it brings it back to my favourite instrument.

I’m not sure I borrowed any ideas that I can attribute to other artists. There is some slide guitar, the sort you usually only hear that in-country and blues music, but it just suited the soaring synths so it had to go in! The sidechained synths you hear throughout were inspired by artists I listened to back in 2017 such as Purity Ring and Flume, but really those ideas had been used since the ’90s in trance and house music. 

When I write songs I try to write the basic idea in one session then focus on the melody and arrangement, before spending too much time on finding the perfect sounds for each layer. In this case the drums and synths didn’t change much but the vocal arrangement changed dramatically. I sang on the very first demo and the energy and note choices were much more mundane. I wanted to wait until Loveta was in the room to give her take on it so that I could adjust everything else around her. Some of my older songs such as; City Nights, Paralysed and Cured have changed dramatically from the demo to the final version. They were simple folk songs with one guitar track and raw vocals.

I have learned a lot about layer structuring and synth creation from this track. I had made it really hard for anyone to mix it as I had several layers of synths that were so harmonically rich that it was almost impossible to make space for the vocals to sit comfortably on top. Learning that less is more! To let go of presets and to design one sound that can replace five layers of sounds. The other big lesson is what stuff serves the melody and what is just there to sound “cool” but isn’t necessary to the story.

When I uploaded the first take on the song I actually had a fan message me from Germany who was deeply upset when I took it down. They had told me the song was the best thing they had ever heard and helped them through some tough times. They were almost distraught about it and asked me to send them an MP3 so they could keep listening.

I had never had anyone love my music that much before and was my main motivation to finally finish the song. We have kept in touch since then and have had some funny conversations of them telling me to get my arse into gear and finish the final version so they could stream it again. I don’t have a lot of fans yet but I’ve been really touched by the couple that have messaged me to say they love the music and to keep going. It’s honestly the most humbling experience to remember when I’m extra hard on myself and feel like a complete failure, that one person hearing my songs and being impacted by them is the reason I write in the first place.

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