Faithless have opened up about the writing and recording of their iconic 1995 track ‘Insomnia’.
Two months on from announcing their first new album in 10 years, the legendary UK dance outfit revealed to the Guardian that the track was originally nine minutes long and that MTV forced them to change its original opening line (“I only smoke weed when I need to”) to "deep in the bosom of the gentle night”.
Keyboardist Sister Bliss also revealed that the track, which DJ Mag ranked number 14 in their list of "Top 100 Club Tunes" back in 1998, was written in a garden shed. "That was where our producer Rollo Armstrong had his studio," she says. "Being in there all day and then DJ-ing all night was like having permanent jetlag. So I came up with the title 'Insomnia' because I couldn’t get to sleep. Rollo didn’t really play an instrument. He has a condition called synaesthesia where you see music as colours, so he’d just describe how he wanted something to sound. We were very stoned a lot of the time."
One-third of the outfit alongside Sister Bliss and Rollo, vocalist Maxi Jazz, opened up about the lyric-writing process, admitting that he wrote the words in under an hour. "I spent 20 minutes with a pad jotting down my thoughts, finished the lyrics in the studio the following evening, then spent about 25 minutes putting the vocals down," he says.
"[They] are from personal experience, he adds. "I didn’t suffer from insomnia, but I’d just had an abscess on my tooth. It was so painful it would keep me awake. The lines about having no electricity and reaching for the pen in the darkness were also from real life...I had an electricity meter and when the money ran out you’d get six or seven pounds of credit and then – 'Boom!' – the lights would go out. So I used to write by candlelight."
Revisit the video for the classic track below.
Last month, Sister Bliss said clubs and DJs have been "left in the corner to rot" by the UK government in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.