Singled Out: Julia Gomez breaks down the making of her ‘Night Drive’ dream world

Listen to the Singled Out feature breaking down the making of Julia Gomez’s ‘Night Drive’


Hight: This is 91.1 WNXP and I’m editorial director Jewly Hight with a deeper dive into our record of the week, Aren’t We All So Incomplete, which is out today, by the way. It is the first album from Julia Gomez, who’s based right here in Nashville and did her first real interview for this feature.

There’s a lot to get to know about her. She is into the precision of pop songwriting and how it can make personalized expression resonate with lots of people. And she’s also prone to reach for wildly varied production styles, from industrial to grunge, to add color to her songs. She also uses the pronoun they and is just beginning to explore bringing gender fluidity into her vocals. Gomez also identifies as queer and Latinx, a descendant of Cuban and Spanish-American musicians who was self-taught until she sharpened her chops at Belmont.

“Night Drive” is one of the tracks on the album that she wrote, produced and played everything on. She’s fantasizing about stealing a moment of escape with someone who was once in her life, savoring it as a waking dream that offers a little respite from the uncertainties of young adulthood.

Julia Gomez is going to let us into the making of her dream world as “Night Drive” gets the Singled Out treatment.

Gomez: I was writing this song in the beginning of 2020. I just was kind of getting over a breakup, and I had this dream of being in my hometown with my partner, and she was driving, or they were driving. And I just wanted to kind of recreate that. I think in the state of missing that person, I wanted to write a song that was like, “Won’t you interrupt me from my daily life?” So the opening lyric is “Driving through a Dream. The sunset was a beast, the peach, the pinks.” Really putting a lot of the details in the verses.

Music: Driving through a dream, the sunset was a beast…

Gomez: So it goes from being all busy to getting super simple and intimate, really. It almost breaks up the storytelling and it brings you right into the present moment of, “Won’t you take me on a night drive?”

Music: Won’t you take me on a night drive…

Gomez: It just started off as a guitar vocal, and I just wanted to challenge myself in making this song, because I was doing everything alone, and I wanted every element in the song to feel like a musical challenge. Like I was almost playing solitaire with myself. The bass line on “Night Drive” is kind of chaotic and extra. I guess that just goes back to creating from a place of instinct and intuition and just not really questioning your gut feelings about something. [music: bass] I wanted the snare to transform across the song. Like, the snare starts off kind of in front of the beat and then it sneaks on the pre-chorus. You kind of hear the groove. It is changing. The feel of the song changes. And then by the chorus, the song feels kind of transformed. It feels like a different song. [music: programmed drums]

When recording the vocals for “Night Drive,” I wanted the chorus to melodically kind of leap, and in order to handle that leap, I had to do an octave apart vocal, because I needed something to have it kind of pierce the mix. I wanted it just to feel almost androgynous ,with a deep vocal underneath a super high one.

Music: So take me on a night drive/I’ll watch you like the night sky

Gomez: It could have had a third chorus, but I just wanted to have this kind of open-ended feeling. The ending does express the kind of awkwardness and frustration that comes with just figuring out your life, getting out of college, and the pressures of this age.

Music: We’re so far out where landscapes away from the town/We claim to know where we’re supposed to settle down/God, it’s so quiet, suede and silence in your car/Where are the pressures of this age feel less bizarre

Gomez: And I almost just wanted that to just feel like a spoken word in a way. Like, “I find solace just being with you in your car. And I have to control everything in my life; I just want to be in the passenger seat with you and just not have to worry about having to control everything.” It did almost turn the song to a broader sense. Maybe others are feeling this too.