Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: ContraReleased: 2010
This slice of digital dancehall is a lyrical collaboration between multi-instrumentalist/producer Rostam Batmangli and frontman Ezra Koenig. At just over six minutes, it is the longest song Vampire Weekend have produced to date.
Batmangli commented in the band's track-by-track production notes: "I started making this song in my living room. At one point my roommate walked in and turned on the kitchen faucet, you can hear it running behind the guitar solo."
The song features a percussive vocal sample from M.I.A.'s "Hussel" and an interpolation of "Pressure Drop" by the Toots and the Maytals.
The M.I.A sample was because Batmangli was a fan of the singer's Kala album. He said: "I loved Kala, I was trying to make Contra sound like Kala but performed by a band."
Batmanglij detailed the story behind the song during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session in 2013: "Ezra sent me a short story called 'Diplomat's Son' when we were in college," he recalled. "The last paragraph read: 'I wondered, watching him bleeding on the rugby field beneath my mud-covered boot, if he was looking at me through the proscenium of a Turkish taxicab's rumbling windshield or, perhaps, the small port window of the rickety boat which had taken him down the Ganges.'
"Years later," he continued, "I started working on a song on my own, this was between our first and our second albums, I knew I wanted two distinct parts with two really distinct grooves but both Jamaican in feel.
"I started to take the idea of the 'Diplomat's Son' and put it in a different context. I started to look at it as more of a love story than a story about competitive students. I had a vocal melody and lyrics for the chorus: 'He was a diplomat's son, It was '81'.
"Then Ezra and I got in the studio and started working on fleshing out the song: writing a verse, and pre-chorus together. More sections after that. Figuring out some vocals for the bridge as well.
"We added CT on drums, Baio on Bass... and the rest is history."