“Modern Life” all started off one day when I went over to my drummer friend Joey Hennigan’s house. I brought a little Casio SK-1 sampler keyboard and Joey played some cool stuff on it. He played that awesome intro keyboard lick. We didn’t do much with it, but a year or so later I found that lick in my recordings and started playing with it.
One of the most experimental tracks on the Modern Life EP, Modern Life featured heavy electronic elements, including highly distorted beats, motion synthesizers and beautifully minimal guitar melodies. The sincere and direct vocals take a special place under the spotlight, echoing the work of artists such as Son Lux or Minus The Bear.
I was busking every night, submerged in the tall Las Vegas buildings. Between the people going to the dance clubs and the buildings, I was living a Metropolitan, futuristic life. I would come home early in the morning and have this residual energy from the crowd. When I drove home I always wanted to keep driving into the sunrise. So pumped from singing, and the people, I just wanted to keep driving but I new eventually the sleep deprivation would catch up. It was a weird feeling. That is where the line “will you try to catch the morning sun” came from.
The instruments all came together easily with minimal tracks. When writing it I always thought of it as a sultry David Bowie labyrinth song. But like I said, most of my busking crowds were coming out of the nightclubs and EDM scene here in Vegas. So I think it influenced the song into a kind of futuristic cosmopolitan feel. I was also listening to Empire of the Sun a lot. It all came together.
My brother Justin Stills played drums on it. I love what he did with it. He gave it such a unique 80s sound with the stop splashes and stuff. It was so original what he did. Mixed with the electronic beats I think it really set it into its own world.