Girls Like You by DENNY

Words by Sophie Minello

After a year of a music drought and months of teasing, on October 19th DENNY presented the world with Girls Like You. It feels like the soundtrack to something important, like you're being pulled through a storyline as the song progresses, which is exactly what DENNY was going for. It sounds big, and it demands the attention of your ears with its explosive chorus and frontman Alexander Rollins' powerful, graceful vocals. The unique and beautiful craft of the song is hard to describe if one hasn't listened to the tune. Scroll down to listen and read through the steps that brought Rollins' to the creation of Girls Like You .

 
 

By Alexander Rollins

Each of our songs starts from a memory… It’s easier to write about my past than it is to write about my current. There’s a lot more joy in my life now and I’m not a big fan of cheery music. Every song starts differently, whether that’s a chord progression on a Casio keyboard in my basement or a noisy voice note while driving or the three of us jamming and something cool happens. I write a lot of music. I write everyday. A lot of our songs are the culmination of several ideas working together.. Girls Like You is actually one of the most romantic stories of one of our songs. About a year ago I was feeling stuck, our first two singles had been one thing because I was into that at the time, then Bloom happened and the response was crazy. Bloom was actually written in 2013 after our first band sort of dissolved. I was angry and started banging on my guitar with my fuzz pedal cranked and from voice note to master the song didn’t really change. Then it started to become a thing and people really resonated with it and as crowds sang it back to me I was standing there thinking, “I don’t relate to this at all anymore…” But there was something about that period of my life that really came out in that song that people resonated with, so I went back to it. I found a journal of mine from when I was 19 or 20 and scrawled on one of the pages was this poem, written about a girl who went to the south of France every summer:

 Photo by Morgan Winston

Photo by Morgan Winston

I first saw you on a dark night, your hair in a part to the side.

You smelled like champagne and cigarettes. 

You asked me, “Are you here by yourself?”

 

That was it. I saw it and the melody immediately happened. The entire thing seems to paint a picture of a specific night, but most of the lines have a different meaning to me personally. This was from a time where I was incredibly self absorbed and this girl would always say “It’s like you’re here by yourself.” So I started to reflect on that time and the verses just happened. 

 

I sat on the song for a few months before bringing it into the studio with the guys. I couldn’t for the life of me write a chorus that felt right, so I went back to that journal and chicken-scratched into the margins on one of the last pages was “I THINK THIS NIGHT IS PLAYING TRICKS ON OUR HEARTS” and I immediately saw that and started singing it in this David Byrne sort of shouting, sing-song voice and everything just clicked. We tracked a demo that was very 80s and added some heavy fuzz guitar. We always work on songs several times with several different arrangements, but this one just felt simple and perfect right off the bat. I remember sending it to our manager and he said it was like “ripping a bandaid off” when you got to the post-chorus. The song has a lot of duality in the lyrics, appearing to mean one thing on the surface but meaning something totally different to me personally. Our goal was to create that duality musically, juxtaposing the tender verses with the loud post-chorus. 

 

We went to Los Angeles to record a few songs with Eric Palmquist (Bad Suns, HUNNY, Night Riots) in March and that’s where Girls Like You really grew. We talked for months about how we were going to approach the track and our chemistry was really good. We wanted to see the bombast of artists we loved like INXS and Michael Jackson and bring those influences together with the modern influences we love like Anderson Paak, Childish Gambino or Frank Ocean and he was like, “Yes”, to that idea. There was something about the warm LA nights and driving through the hills every morning to the studio that brought out a flamboyance and charisma to the songs we did out there that feels truly DENNY. We want our music to be cinematic since it’s so autobiographical. Not necessarily literal all the time, but still traced from my experiences. I want to soundtrack that. 

Buy Girls Like You here.


Sunlight Magazine