"Sophia’s best friend wasn’t supposed to die that night. But she was supposed to be raped. At least that is what his murderer said at his parole hearing".
It was my job to accompany Sophia to the penitentiary to attend this hearing. She could not stop shaking, unable to contain her rage and that feeling of guilt that had weighed on her day and night for the last 12 years. Sophia was mad at herself for the tragic end of her best friend. It was sad because it was not her fault, but she wouldn’t accept it.
Sophia and her best friend were out that evening. Their university semester had just ended and summer was coming. They were finally back home in the country for the summer. After a few drinks in a bar crowded with college kids, three men, in their late twenties, joined them at their table. They were not there to celebrate the end of their semester, but it was a Friday for everyone. They all had fun for a few hours, talking about nothing. The three men made sure nobody ran dry.
And then Sophia suddenly had a bad feeling. The kind of anguish that is hard to explain the moment it hits you. She felt like the mood had changed. She was starting to feel vulnerable. That sense of vulnerability which unfortunately too many women know too well. That feeling I’ve never experienced. That feeling that very few men will ever experience.
Sophia took her best friend aside and begged her to go home. But her friend was in celebratory mode. She was certainly not gonna let the night end this way. Sophia insisted, but her friend didn’t want to listen. She kindly asked Sophia to stop being paranoid. So Sophia tried to chalk up her sudden anxiety to the alcohol and fatigue. These men's eyes, and the turn the discussion was taking was generating a mounting fear she was trying hard to quell...but they had “not done anything” wrong. Sophia therefore left the bar and went home. Despite being exhausted, she couldn’t sleep, unable to shake her bad thoughts.
The next day, around noon, she phoned her friend’s house to find out how the evening had ended. Her father took the call. He had not heard back and was counting on Sophia to tell him where his daughter was. Sophia was quick to call all of her friends. But no one had seen her. Sophia was caught in a horrible mix of panic and guilt. A feeling she now has been living with for the last 12 years.
It was not until the next day that the half-naked body of her best friend was found in the middle of a field. She had been held captive, raped and beaten to death. The three men with whom they had had a good time were arrested that same day. They were later convicted of the murder.
In this song, Sophia's friend is asking her to forgive herself, to ease up on the immense panic and guilt she feels. Her friend is in a way apologizing herself for placing these emotions on her. She simply wants to hear the voice of her friend Sophia, who has been almost silent since the tragedy.
We don’t know what the dead feel. But I can tell you that the pain of their loved ones is immense. For a lot of them, the guilt never goes away.
The song was mixed by Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Timber Timbre, Beirut, Owen Pallett) at the studio he shares with Arcade Fire in Montreal. It was recorded in my home studio.
This song was inspired by a case I was working on. The guy killed family members so he wouldn’t ever have to worry about money again. From planning to executing, the whole process was explained in details and it haunted me for a while.
He was idolizing Caligula, a Roman Emperor known for his legendary cruelty. During his reign, he had many of his family members executed. Like many murderers, Caligula had a very troubled childhood filled with violence. He sometimes claimed to be a god and one of his favorite quote was “remember that I have the right to do anything to anybody”. Our guy was in that same state of mind.
The song was mixed by Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Timber Timbre, Beirut, Owen Pallett) at the studio he shares with Arcade Fire in Montreal. It was recorded in my home studio and also in my childhood house in the country. Thanks to Jean-Philippe Faille for additional drums.