In this final part of his diaries, Mark Harrington shares the difficulty of creating Lewis’s Song for the SEN Songs for Breck project.
This must not show Lewis in a positive light,’ was the first thing Lorin said to me when I mooted the idea of a third song in the Songs for Breck series. This song, I knew, would be extremely hard to get right.
This song was hard to write, as I had to dive deep into the dark side of my imagination. I did not want to show Lewis in a good light. I did not want to make him seem to be good. I did not want it to sound supportive to grooming; I did not want it to feel like a Disney villain song where it felt jokey. It had be dark, it had to be cruel, it had be uncomfortable, and it had to be unforgiving to Lewis.
From hearing and sharing the story of Breck, I always felt that one of the cruellest points in Lewis’s grooming of Breck was the point where he told Breck he was dying. It felt to me that Lewis had been playing the biggest game he could with Breck and this was the final move in his strategy. This was the starting point for my song.
Throughout the lyrics I wanted to use language that sounded like a game, so there are a lot of references to winning, losing and making moves. Most importantly, I wanted to feel uncomfortable so I used many lyrics that refer to feeling trapped or being unable to escape.
I had recently come across the band 2WEI, a group that creates dark music for video games and has remixed songs such as Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ into more sinister sounding versions. I knew from that this was where we needed to take Lewis’s song.
Jack at QM studios created a multileveled track that could be suited to a video game, but then embraces classic dark sounds such as violins and a heavy bass to make it feel uncomfortable. The team at QM Studios added layers of voices so that it is never quite clear who the real person’s voice is, making links between grooming and fake identities. The backing track to this song is terrifying, uncomfortable and clearly makes the listener feel anger and negativity towards Lewis and groomers.
When I received Dom Bryant’s audition reel I knew this very talented young man had what it took to portray such a tough, dark person. At just 16 his audition was uncomfortable with levels of control and seduction. I could see he was up for the challenge.
Dom’s natural acting talent shines through this song and throughout the recording he remained in character, making the lyrics more dark and twisted as he recorded them. His performance you will see in the music video is brilliant and he unnerved me the whole time I watched him perform.
This song was a challenge and will in turn challenge people’s thoughts. It in no way promotes grooming but will help educate young people to understand what a groomer’s thought process, wants and needs might be. What I hope people take away from the song is the cruelty and the manipulative nature of groomers, and how cold Lewis was to Breck, who trusted him.
I hope this series of songs will offer another way to open the conversations about online safety and grooming.
The singles will hopefully be available on streaming sites soon. To find out more please email email@example.com . If you would like to see further projects Mark is working on please follow on Instagram and Facebook @harrington_projects