“All our days / We’re destined for destruction / For you my touch meant nothing / You still let me in your bed / Time again, I’d place my faith in you / Compassion turned out cruel / But I won’t be your wreck / All I could try to do / Was save you / From the dead / Now I know / I’ve gotta save myself instead.”
It was just a couple of months ago when Calgary, AB singer-songwriter Justine Giles discreetly released her current single, “Save Myself,” out into the world. The first taste of new music since “Poppy” in 2018, “Save Myself” arrived in our email inbox with no fanfares, no big announcements, and no entourage – which may go against the advice of a marketing guru, but which, in my humble opinion, serves to add a shroud of mystery around this stunning new composition. But if you happened to miss out on this tune until now, fear not, we have you covered – as Justine shares an animated lyric video for “Save Myself,” which we are delighted to premiere here today.
Co-written with roots-rocker Matt Blais, the seeds for “Save Myself” were planted long before the Covid-19 pandemic, and grew as Justine dealt with the end of a close personal and professional relationship. Struggling to transcribe her own thoughts and feelings onto paper during this emotional time, Justine found herself upping sticks from her Sudbury, ON residence, to embark on a bold journey to the Albertan Cowtown, connecting with her good friend Matt Blais to finish the song, and finally rediscovering her muse.
“I’ve always been your best-kept secret / You’ve always been my worst nightmare / Vivid stares from empty eyes / I gave, but you took back / I was never enough / When I was trying to help / So you left me in the cold / To fend for myself.”
“At times it felt like pulling teeth, to revisit old pain and a traumatic time in my life, but it was extremely cathartic,” Justine shares about the songwriting experience. “My hope is that someone out there can relate the song’s message.” Having the lyrics and chords finalized, Justine’s remaining challenge was to seek out the right producer – one she felt would bring her personal message to life – and would eventually entrust the honors to Mark Troyer (Brett Kissel) at Evergreen Sound. “Something significant for me is the way [Mark] captures vocal production and how that’s allowed him to learn the nuances of my voice,” she offers. “We both strive to pick and choose ‘moments’ – either when it’s appropriate for me to belt it out loud, or when it’s necessary for me to embrace my softer voice and showcase some vulnerable emotions.”
“You’re always good at escaping blame / Playing people like they’re game / Amazing how you didn’t care / I gave you everything I had / No one even knew that I was there / Even when I held you / Just left me in the dark / To try to find the truth.”
“Save Myself” is somewhat of a mission statement for Justine, who finds not only her own voice, but also her own unique sound – which offer similarities to those of US artist Kacey Musgraves, whom Giles coincidentally cites as one of her musical inspirations. And through this collaboration with both Matt Blais and Mark Troyer (and the development of the animated video), she appreciates the additional input afforded to her on the overall production of this release. “I feel that this song captures my strength in a new way. I’ve always been strong, but for once, I’m not trying to be stoic,” she shares. “I’m trying to embrace vulnerability and honesty in every way, when on record, in public, or on social media. I think the world often lacks authenticity and raw openness.”
“I look back and wonder how we both survived / In tryin’ to save you, a part of me died / … / All I could try to do / Was save you / From the dead / Now I know / I’ve gotta save myself instead.”
Photo Credit: J Edmund Photography