Q: “The Day the Sky Fell” is featured in the short film, “The Day the Sky Fell.” What role does your track play in the short film?
MITCHELL: “The Day the Sky Fell” is a short film that was created by my friend(s) at Missouri State University, about a young man stuck in his hometown working at his family’s funeral home business, and the first dead body he works on is that of his ex-girlfriend, who recently passed away years after she left him for a man twice his age. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to write a song for the film, of the same name, which serves as the soundtrack to the emotional climax of the film, when the main character returns home and is left alone with his thoughts after seemingly the most emotionally draining experience of his life.
Q: What are some of your songs that are featured in film? Did you draw on any of them for inspiration?
MITCHELL: This is the first song that I’ve written for film (though, I am in talks with my other filmmaker friends about working with them in a similar capacity). So, while I wasn’t able to draw upon other experiences like this for inspiration, it was a great opportunity to draw upon some of my biggest musical influences, like The Front Bottoms, that hadn’t yet shown up in my previous work, as well as step outside of my comfort zone, in terms of the writing process.
Q: Did you have a different artistic process for writing a song featured in a short film?
MITCHELL: – I typically write songs that are very personal to me, based on what I’ve been going through over the years, or what is weighing me down at the current moment. Though, for this project, while I could relate to the themes of the short film, the lyrics are a retelling of the short film and its script, and in turn, are based on someone else’s story. Because of this, I spent a longer time writing and rewriting the lyrics, and focusing in on every detail, to make sure I told the story right. When you’re telling somebody else’s story, there’s more pressure to do said story justice, so I had to make sure these were the best lyrics I’ve written, because of that. Thankfully, I had some help along the way to make that happen.
What sets my music apart from others is that while I write the melodies/lyrics and sing, I can’t play any instruments, so I rely on my talented friends to help me fully bring a song of mine to life in that sense, as well as help me on melodies and lyrics as needed. My friend Mason Tomlinson was vital in the early stages of the song, helping me narrow in on the aesthetic I wanted to go for, as well as wrote one of the overlapping lyrical passages towards the end of the song (“I held you in my arms when our bodies were warm, I held you in my arms as your body went cold”), and my friend, Mat Wiegert, wrote and played the guitar on the song, who did such a beautiful job that the song wouldn’t be what it is without his contributions.
I also want to shout out my friend Jacob Baldwin, who did a great job producing/mixing the song!
Q: There are many layers to “The Day the Sky Fell,” especially as the song continues to build. Can you explain this artistic decision?
MITCHELL: Something else that set apart the writing process for this song from other songs of mine, is that myself and my guitarist Mat were writing along to the final scene of the film to perfectly time it out, and a lot of what went into building the song towards the end was based on that emotional climax I previously mentioned. The long guitar intro sets up the character’s transition into his emotionally isolating final scene, the spoken word in the middle was meant to illustrate the anxious/depressing/existential thoughts going through his mind (the film was dealing with such heavy themes that it was hard to write a melody around that section of lyrics, so the spoken word served as both experimentation in my musical catalogue, as well as trying to frame these finely-tuned lyrics into thought patterns this character would be having), and the three passages layered on top of each other towards the end were meant to illustrate how suffocating your thoughts can become after your emotional levee finally breaks. I especially tried to convey this through screaming the main melody in the background, which calls back to The Front Bottoms, one of my favorite bands, who typically utilize screaming the main melody as background/harmony vocals to illustrate the emotional depth of their lyrics, and as a creative way to convey the singer in their most raw and vulnerable state.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you learned while creating and producing “The Day the Sky Fell?”
MITCHELL: I think the biggest lesson I learned in creating “The Day the Sky Fell” was the importance of experimentation. It’s important to establish your unique identity and style in your music, but after you find that, whether because of success or habit, you can find that you’re repeating yourself. I never want to get stuck in the rut of writing the same song over and over again, and while it may not appease a mass audience you find from a specific style of song, I think your longevity as an artist depends on how willing you are to change and experiment. Doing so could open doors to new audiences, and lead to either improving upon the style you’re most known for in ways you didn’t initially consider, or take you in a new artistic direction that is more beneficial for your career overall. So, whether that means writing about someone else’s story instead of your own, including/emulating different styles of singing/playing, or varying the topics you sing about, it’s important to keep your artistic juices flowing in different ways, and I encourage any and all artists out there to experiment whenever possible.
Interviewed by Sarah Scott