The Foreign Films – Starlight Serenade (Q&A)

You would expect that after the release of The Record Collector”, The Foreign Films’ Magnus Opus, Bill Majoros’ musical inspiration tank would be empty. Nothing could be further from the truth. With Starlight Serenade, another highlight is added to the already so rich oeuvre.

Bill Majoros explains to Sweet Sweet Music how this is possible.

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

When a lightning bolt of inspiration hits, it’s always a magical feeling. I love creating music from thin air! Songwriting is a daily ritual for me, but intuitively you feel the excitement and energy when you’re on to something special. It’s like tuning into an imaginary radio station and discovering a new song!

I’ve been working with a fantastic bass player and co-producer, Carl Jennings, for many years now. When we work together, it’s like musical telepathy. When I showed Carl the basic ideas for the songs, he immediately came up with fantastic bass lines. That was a eureka moment! The overall vision for the album materialized!

How did this record come together?

After a pretty epic project- A 3 LP, 31 song, vinyl box set “The Record Collector” I began to romanticize about the way bands recorded and released music in the 1960s, exciting singles and albums being released within a short period of time, capturing the energy and zeitgeist of the moment. I’ve been using this concept as my current blueprint for releasing music.

With that in mind, my two most recent albums came out back to back, with Ocean Moon in 2020, followed by my brand new release, Starlight Serenade. I’m a multi-instrumentalist; in the studio, I begin with a guitar or keyboard part and lead vocal.

Having said that, the chemistry of collaboration elevates and illuminates the songs! I’ve been working with Rob Preuss, legendary Canadian keyboard player, and the incredible orchestrator Jason Frederick from the UK for these records. Steve Eggers from the fantastic Canadian band The Nines also contributed some background vocals. I’ve been loving the collective sound; suddenly, a song will start to transcend a sketch and become a technicolor painting.

Both records were created around the idea of shining positive light in dark times. I think of it as retro-futurism or kaleidoscope pop, A musical alchemy of the past and present while dreaming of the positive future. A new “roaring 20s”!

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

If you put all your heart and soul into a record and love the people you’re working with, that’s success.

For me, success is doing what I love the very best I can. From the time I was a kid, all I’ve wanted to do is make cool records like my musical heroes. I’m thankful to be able to pursue that goal.

As a writer, I always hope the music reaches more listeners. I always hope my music brings musical joy the way my favorite artists brighten my life.

In a tangible way, I’m working with a great record company Sonic Envy/ Warner Music. It’s my first time being affiliated with a major label for quite a while. I’m optimistic the melodies will reach many more ears, lol!

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

It’s incredibly important to stay creative; I’m always passionate about writing new songs and recording! I love and live for sonic discoveries. It keeps my sense of wonder alive. Composing can turn a grey day into beautiful technicolor; it truly elevates my spirit! Music illuminates the heart and soul; it’s a beacon of light in the dark.

Staying creative is part of my life’s philosophy or mantra; I’m always striving to grow as a musician/artist. For me, the secret of songwriting is to immerse yourself in great music, film, and art, then combining influences you love to create something new, in a humble way, adding to the grand tapestry of music.

In other words, listen to tons of cool records, then put lots of love into making cool records of your own.

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

I think of it from a cinematic point of view. I love to create characters and atmospheres, telling stories, and painting musical pictures. That’s why I go under the name “The Foreign Films” My own emotions are definitely in every note, but I feel it’s much more interesting to create creative, imaginary scenarios.

Songwriting is also an exploration of the subconscious, like a deep-sea dive into the dream world. Ultimately The Foreign Films’ new LP Starlight Serenade is my imagination’s jukebox. The songs became the soundtrack to my life.

You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

Wow, I may as well go big, lol, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon…hmmm maybe Elton John. Any of the greats would be a tremendous honor.

What’s the gig you will never forget? And why?

That’s a great question; I’ve been a touring musician for many years! A couple of years ago I played The legendary Cavern Club “birthplace of The Beatles” in Liverpool. It was a thrill! The Fabs made me want to become a musician! As a boy, my parents bought my first records, Revolver and The White Album. It opened my mind to a universe of creativity. It was full circle as an artist! I’ll never forget that fantastic experience!

I was also lucky enough to play the infamous CBGB’s in New York City, 1st Avenue in Minneapolis (Prince owned it and filmed Purple Rain there), and The Stone Pony in Asbury Park (made famous by Bruce Springsteen).

All of these are very memorable, beautiful experiences!

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

We love to record in an old-school way, playing live drums, guitars, bass, and vocals in a traditional studio (Westmoreland Hamilton, Ontario, Canada). We try to capture the human spirit in every note, not relying too heavily on technology.

For me, it’s important to keep the music organic, like all the vintage albums I love. Having said that. Jason Frederick makes the string arrangements from the UK, and Rob Preuss (keys) is in NYC. Modern recording technology makes this possible! Carl Jennings and I lay down the basic tracks at his studio, capturing live energy, then mix in overdubs for extra sonic magic!

It’s incredibly fun to work with such fantastic musicians. At the conclusion of a recording project, it’s wonderful to press vinyl. It makes everything feel complete. Album art is incredibly important; it helps bring the recording to life visually. I’m fortunate to work with the artist named Kristie Ryder (Poppermost Prints). Every recording has a corresponding cover that captures the technicolor spirit of the songs.

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

I always play every note with heart and soul, wanting my songs to radiate good feelings; musical sun through the clouds. I try to write creative, psychedelic pop songs that are fun to sing along with, but there’s often a story hidden within. I love to take the listener on a sonic journey. You could listen to the music and float downstream on a river or dive deep beneath the surface.

My songs often function on a few levels. For example; The mystical premise of “All The Love You Give” asks the question, “if you could go back in time, what would you change?”

The character magically wakes up in the 1960s with a chance to begin again. She decides to follow her bliss and take the path less traveled.

“All this love you give, live the life you want to live with all the love you give.”

Like a musical time machine, you’ll hear jangly guitars, vintage drums, bass, and synthesizers played with a very live feel. All of my songs tend to have a subplot.

Another example, inspired by a reoccurring dream, “A Photograph of You” is a ghost story, from the point of view of a spirit who haunts a dusty old attic in a ramshackle cottage that time forgot.

While playing crackling records on an antique gramophone, he spends his days gazing at faded photographs, reliving earthly delights from long ago. The apparition reflects on bittersweet moments of love and loss, then suddenly vanishes following a startling revelation!

Ultimately I want to take the listener on a musical adventure and illuminate the heart. Lyrics are too often taken for granted.

What is the line of text, or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember?  And why?

“Everything comes and goes, nobody really knows

Darling our love still grows flowers in the spring”

This is from my song “Rainbows” it’s an acoustic meditation on the ever-changing nature of life. As the seasons’ cycle around, everything is temporary and simultaneously eternal, like flowers dying in the autumn frost to be reborn in the spring.

This song is dedicated to my Mom’s beautiful memory and magical spirit.

“Rainbows in your eyes

Everyone laughs and everyone cries

All that shall live surely will die

Maybe we arise

Neath summer skies

And maybe I’ll see you again.”

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