I was sitting next to my work desk one late evening in November 1998 after having been rolling some notes for riffs on a new song. There was one fly flying against to the brightness of the lamp I had on the table and constantly burning itself in the heat. I saw it in a way the fly was a girl who burned herself repeatedly in these bad relationships that constantly dragged the girl in to them. Something appealing and dangerous, self-destructive but she couldn't avoid it. So it inspirated me in to writing this song, which had a work name "Gone with the wind" back in the day. I was 18.
The next spring, spring of 1999, was a break from school for us soon-to-be-graduates and it was meant to be spent reading everything through we had studied in the past 3 years, as a preparation for the final graduate exams. I recall reading only one physics book because this spring was perfect time for honing skills on music, and that it was. We recorded the "Flying High" song at home in my room with singer Päivi Ikonen (Mattila) who was also graduating from the same school that spring.
The recording took 4 hours and we did it on a Neumann TLM103 microphone. Then I spent the next 2 weeks full days editing vocals and searching for the best takes. I think the computer was a 133MHz Pentium and it was so busted all the time that I had to run constant renders of the audio tracks one bar at a time to have a realtime rehearsal of how it sounds. Kind of a "try-and-error" like of a method but it was the only thing I could do. My brother-in-studio-arms Ari was around to help me with the mixing and we mixed the song on his Yamaha 01V. The first version was ready -- I think in June 1999.
It was the 5th song EVER that I had heard to be using AUTOTUNE (the other fours were Cher, Blümchen, some boy band maybe Five or N'Sync, and someone that I can't recall) and I did dig the way Cher abused it only at certain points at vocals, keeping it special, so I wanted to have it the same way on Flying High -- just a tad of pepper and salt.
But it wasn't good enough, I wasn't happy with the overall production, so soon I started working on a new mix with more energy and weight. Guess it was September when the new mix was done, called "ORIGINAL MIX", and it was a lot better than the first one in the summer. I had been already spreading the first mix a bit on the internet and this whole MP3 thing was very new back then, so it was kind of easy to have people exited about the track and download it (well, those of us who knew what an mp3 was and had the computer power to decode it). There were also remixes by other guys, like the german guys Messa and DNS, who gave nice different approaches to the song.
But also the new mix wasn't as good as I wanted it to be -- I still felt there was something more to deal with here and it wasn't everything I could do with the skills garnered that year. I could still push it a bit further. So I started working on even another new mix, which I wanted to be harder than the previous two. There was a glimpse of trance-kind-of arpeggiating melodies coming up, because the very end of 90'ies had seen the rise of melodic trance in the underground scene, so this was something that was so totally fresh that I just had to have it incorporated in the song. It was a nice blend of AN1x and Juno2 synthesizers, and the riff was extraordinary for the time. Also the harder banging stuff was coming up as the German group "666" had been bringing their heavy dance beats for a good while already and there were other groups, like Scooter, also banging hard with their bassdrums (notice that one big game changer "Brooklyn Bounce - Bass, Beats and Melody" came out one year later!). It was somehow obvious to make it a hard stomping track -- there was no other way.
After tedious couple of months of work the final 3rd and biggest version of "Flying High" was ready, and I felt it was so perfected that if I wanted to change something and try making it better, the next thing we would have to do would have been to re-record the vocals. So, I decided we are finally there and I couldn't make it any better with the skills I had. It was November 1999 -- a good 363 days since I started writing it in November 1998. At first it was called just "Flying High (radio edit)" but after many re-makes today we know this version as "1999 radio edit".
It caught off at internet at rapid speed. One month later I was walking on town with my friend Ari and a car stopped at lights right next to us. We were listening to their sub woofer equipped car stereos and singing along; "hey this track sounds pretty good.. what is this?" and it wasn't until the very chorus when we were like "WTF??". We had heard the song thousands of times for the past year and then we couldn't recognize "Flying High" when it was played in such out of a context way!
Someone wrote me from Florida Tampa Bay how he was driving and stopped at lights next to a car which was playing "Flying High" out loud. He followed the car to a parking lot and went to ask the driver where he had got the song from. He replied he had copied the CD from a friend who downloaded it from the internet. The song became a large success back in the early days of mp3!
In 2005 I decided it's time to warm up this track with a more up-to-date sound of what was going on and with it we made some really nice success in our homeland Finland. We were #1 on both the Official Club Chart and The Finnish Disco Chart, where the latter had us staying on the chart for 48 weeks! Radio NRJ in Finland had us winning the "Hit or Miss" for seven consecutive days (we totally beated Coldplay by 99% of votes) and we toured for them at clubs and festivals.
I used to get a lot of feedback from listeners who had found us late, how they had been listening to the original "Flying High" years ago and how they didn't have a slightest glue the act behind it was Finnish. One national radio station -- who didn't play Finnish music at all -- had "Flying High" playing as the most played song of the year, and only because they didn't know we were Finnish. They changed their rule book afterwards.
All these years I had been sharing a remix package for fans to give them the possibility of making their own version of our song. Somewhere in late 2006 a guy called Dj Splash made a remix of the song and it took a life of it's own at Youtube by garnering over 10 million listens in the next few years to come.
All this didn't come untroubled though; Being against the rules I set for the remix package, Dj Splash seems to have released the song under his own name as his own song, and his new fans started blaming us for stealing "his song". We even got negative customer feedback at iTunes Store on our album's behalf for stealing "his song" but not providing "his original" version at all. More problems have followed when some guys went on to release the Dj Splash remix at the major online stores, so I have had my share of copyright fighting to get these songs out of the stores.
This was one reason I decided we need to put it out officially. Despite the 'nightcore/happy hardcore' style being definitely different from what we have been doing in past years, it's due to the large public request we feel it's time to release the Dj Splash remix to the download stores. It's been 13 years since I had the original mix of this song done, and I have a feeling the story of "Flying High" is only at it's beginning.
- Joel Kalsi