We asked Alaina from Tennis to breakdown how and where the songs for Yours Conditionally were recorded and written. The group sailed around the Baja Peninsula, wrote the album on the voyage, and finished it in Colorado.
These songs were written prior to our voyage. We were still transitioning out of Ritual In Repeat’s album cycle and our writing reflects our post-tour headspace.
“Ladies Don’t Play Guitar” and “My Emotions Are Blinding” address the way I feel constricted or shaped by gender, like an invisible hand that guides the way I work and carry myself, especially within the music industry. Real or imagined, I feel governed by archetypes and expectations—projections of how a female artist should be. It’s always with me when I work, but writing directly about it is a way of pulling myself up by my bootstraps. “Modern Woman” and “Baby Don’t Believe” deal with relationships lost. “Island Music” indulges in the numbness I frequently experience in the face of tour’s highs and lows.
I wrote the lyrics to “Fields of Blue” during an offshore passage. It’s the only song taken directly from my ship’s log. Patrick put it to music a couple of weeks later once we entered the Sea Of Cortez.
“Matrimony,” “Please Don’t Ruin This For Me,” and “10 Minutes 10 Years” came out of a 10 day writing session in San Juanico. It was the first weatherproof anchorage we found that allowed us to privilege music over the constant needs of the ship. We also put the finishing touches on “In The Morning I’ll Be Better,” which we had started on land but left incomplete.
In the Studio:
Our writing breakdown is very nearly 50/50, but Patrick’s real mark is in the production and recording of our music. I am the voice, he is the sound. It is as important as any instrument played. He engineered this record himself and it’s what makes Tennis sound like Tennis. At my request, we rented a cabin in Fraser, CO. Proper studios always feel a bit like a man-cave to me. I wanted to work in a more neutral space. We brought our own gear and gave ourselves two weeks to work.
Our experience working with producers in the past gave us the confidence and understanding we needed to take the project on ourselves.