Bastille’s Dan Smith recently sat down with Billboard to explain how he and his band created “Joy,” and how their ReOrchestrated Tour gave new life to the track that was originally written a few years ago, which felt “a bit too positive” to be a Bastille song at first — until it made sense.
Smith tells Billboard that he was working on a few demos in his bedroom a couple years ago when he had some time f from touring around Christmas. He came up with the chorus melody and the line “oh joy, when you call me," but he admits it felt “really happy” for a Bastille song.
“A lot our music is, I guess, dressed up in euphoric sounding music and production but actually is, at its core, incredibly depressing and pretty dark,” he says. “So it felt like a lyric that sort stood out as being a bit too positive. But it's fine cause we dressed it up in a very depressing setting.”
However, during last year’s ReOrchestrated Tour, when the band were joined by an orchestra and a gospel choir, they began to look at their music in a slightly different way.
One vocalist, in particular, who left an impact on them was gospel singer Bim Amoako, who features on the final version “Joy” and, according to Smith, helped the song suddenly “make sense.”
“Every night on tour, she'd have some bits where she ad-libbed by herself and we were all just so blown away by it,” Smith recalls. “So it was like, I need some that on this song, cause it makes me feel happy when I hear her voice.”
As for what “Joy” is about, Smith states that it focuses on waking up on the kitchen floor at the end a “huge apocalyptic night” when anxieties come flooding back over you.
“And then it's about getting a phone call from that one person who is able to set your head straight and pull you back from the brink,” he continues. “And…take the piss out you and reframe everything so it doesn't seem so bad.”
He also notes that while the message the album Doom Days is to find solace by disconnecting from your phone for a bit and “losing yourself in friends for the night,” he does recognize the irony in the fact that with “Joy,” the optimism at the end comes from a phone call.
“But I think it's just about human contact,” he concludes. “It's about how] the smallest gesture from a person can be overwhelmingly positive and can kind save your morning, day, week…or your life. And that's about sort what it's about.”
You can check out the full video above, and listen to “Joy” below.