Stories Behind The Songs: Faithless - Insomnia

"I can't get no sleep."

There's something different about 'Insomnia'. Think about all of the House/Trance dance classics you know. 'Sandstorm', '9pm ('Til I Come)', 'Kernkraft 400', 'Time to Burn'. All are brilliant tunes and go down like a house on fire in a club, but there's something missing from them when compared to Faithless' 'Insomnia'. The latter, more than the others, has soul, heart, a proper human energy.

This is no coincidence. Speaking to Mixmag about how Faithless began, frontman Maxi said of Sister Bliss that "the only reason we hooked up is because Blissy's music had an emotional quality that was entirely lacking in most of the dance music I'd heard." He was drawn to her by the human quality of her music, something which set her apart from many of her peers, whose music was so wrapped in its electronic elements that its spirit was lost in the mix.

Funnily enough, the song was actually inspired by the few peers who did share a human element in their dance music. Sister Bliss explained that "'Insomnia' is actually a tribute to Detroit. The 'Moody Mix', the first mix we made, is a dedication to Carl Craig. Underworld, too. They showed the world that you can run and run things, building it very slowly. It doesn't have to be 'crash bang wallop'."

'Insomnia', much like Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid', is one of those major hits that was written in double-quick time. Deciding that the album needed a bonafide club track, Bliss immediately decided on the song title. "I was DJing most nights of the week, so when we decided to write the track I said 'right, it's going to be called 'Insomnia', 'cause I can't get no sleep'." The band's third member, Rollo, then called Maxi with the song title - and the now famous lyrics were written less than half an hour later. Not only that, Bliss and Rollo didn't exactly take much time with the music either. "I laid the chords down, worked out the bassline, Rollo added the strings and it came together quick enough for us to spend the afternoon record shopping."

So, the song took probably about two hours to put together. That song then charted in 17 countries, topping the charts in two of them and hitting #3 in the UK. It became a worldwide sensation - not least because of it's iconic pizzicato "drop" (for want of a better word). That drop is one of the most famous in all of dance music, synonymous with the 1990s, with football events, with clubs, with House. A simple enough line, it sends people haywire, and to this day 'Insomnia' remains one of the biggest dance tunes of all-time.

Relatable, dark, yet upbeat, 'Insomnia' is a near-perfect tune. It doesn't matter whether it's the monster mix, the radio edit or Avicii's remix - it slaps every single time. The 1990s was a special decade for dance music - hence why Lady Gaga's recent album Chromatica emulates it - and 'Insomnia' is one of the most legendary tunes to come from that scene.

Following its success, Faithless continued releasing records until the early 2010s, but seemingly disbanded for good in 2011. Each band member went off and did their own thing, and Faithless appeared dead - until earlier this month. On June 5th 2020, seemingly out of absolutely nowhere, Faithless released a new track, 'Let The Music Decide'. Well now - is that an old record dusted off and released for the sake of it - or are Faithless on the verge of a true return? Perhaps the song title is exactly what it is, with any response to the song being used to gauge interest in a comeback.

Whatever the case, Faithless may not have lasted at all without the timeless classic that is 'Insomnia'. Maxi's deadpan delivery, coupled with one of the biggest drops in dance, make for a tune that can still send any crowd up the wall. A simply huge track.

PS - we recommend Mixmag's very similar article from which we got the quotes. Goes into a little more depth in regards to the band themselves.