The Foreign Films – Magic Shadows (Q&A)
Bill Majoros (The Foreign Films) just keeps putting out one great record after the other. Magic Shadows is, again, full of richly arranged, cinematic pop songs. What a wonderful listening experience!
What feeling would you like to leave the listener with after listening to Magic Shadows?
Did you think about that when you were recording, that you wanted to create an experience?
I definitely contemplate these things when writing and recording!
I think about creating music in a very cinematic way; it’s a theatre of the mind!
I’d love the listener to feel like they’ve been on an exciting musical journey! Like they’ve been in a technicolor dream.
Every song on the album is like a scene from a movie with various characters and atmospheres.
An album should be a sonic and emotional experience.
An adventure through time and space lol!
The feeling I’m trying to leave the listener with is at the heart of my songwriting- it takes me back to why I became a musician in the first place.
I’ll explain it this way-
When I was a boy, I recall falling in love with records.
It was an incredibly magical and mysterious feeling- a sense of wonder and discovery. I was under the spell of music!
My aim is to conjure up that kind of musical magic for the listener; creating dreamy escapism from the ordinary world. It’s like a magic potion of sound!
I always hope the songs paint pictures with the lyrics and arrangements- an alchemy of various decades of music; I think of it as retro-futurism.
Ultimately I’d like people to feel inspired and illuminated by the songs and by the great musicians who contributed to the record!
One more thought…
I truly believe in the old-fashioned notion of creating full-length albums.
The chemistry between the musicians is very important to me!
It’s important to never lose the heart and soul of music.. the humanity.
At a time when music is being reduced to tiny soundbites, I feel artists should do the exact opposite..expand. Create your own musical universe.
Create an experience.
That’s what I strive to do!
Into The Light, my favorite song after the first few listens, wouldn’t look out of place on an ELO greatest hits. That’s a nice compliment, I think?
That’s a wonderful compliment! Jeff Lynne is truly a musical genius, and I love the artists he’s worked with The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, etc
All of those musicians influence my songs consciously and subconsciously.
To learn the secrets of songwriting, you have to listen to the greats!
We had a fantastic time, recording my song “Into The Light” and the whole LP, for that matter!
Carl Jennings always comes up with amazing bass lines-we have an almost telepathic way of working together!
I’ve recorded all of The Foreign Films’ records with him (Distant Star, The Record Collector, Ocean Moon, Starlight Serenade, and the new release Magic Shadows)
Carl is a truly brilliant studio wizard, and an absolute pleasure to work with!
On the song “Into the Light” I sang lead vocals and played guitar and the drums.
I’ve been very interested in the musical twilight between decades.
When drumming, I was trying to juxtapose a driving Motown/ Stax/ Rolling Stones-type groove with syncopated world-beat rhythms vis-à-vis 80’s new wave!
My music is definitely a reflection of my record collection.
It may not be obvious, but my guitar influences on this song are a combination of artists like The Cars, Big Star, Cheap Trick, Be Bop Deluxe, Television, and yes…ELO!
If only Jeff Lynne would do a version, he could make it a “Greatest Hit” lol!
That would be the honor of a lifetime.
Perfect Future could be an ode to Sparks, perhaps to Roy Orbison. Or do I want to hear things that aren’t there?
As I was saying, I take a number of influences, mix them together like a cocktail, and hope to create something new!
The guitar work on Perfect Future was influenced by early dream pop. I was thrilled to be playing my very first guitar again, rebuilt after many moons!
The main vocal influences on this song are people like David Bowie and Scott Walker.
But yes, you’re correct; when slipping into the higher falsetto, I was definitely trying to manifest a little bit of Roy Orbison! In an incredibly humble way, I try to channel that type of energy.
When I’m drumming on my records, the influences often come from the 60s and 70s.
On the new album, I’ve been tapping into the stylistic elements from the 80s
Roxy Music, Talk Talk, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Talking Heads, etc
Drummers like Omar Hakim, Mark Brzezicki, Dennis Davis, Mel Gayner, and Stewart Copeland are also influences.
Interestingly, I’ve heard a few people compare it to Sparks. I must confess I’m not very familiar with their music. I’m assuming they must have similar influences; I’ll definitely check it out.
I always love to discover new things!
Was there an immediate reason to write Time Machine? How did the song originate?
When writing and recording, I literally think of music as a time machine- visiting the past, present and future!
I swirl together elements from various decades to create new ideas.
The spark of this song comes from the magical realism of sci-fi like The Twilight Zone and The Planet of the Apes, asking the question, “what if you could travel through time? What would happen? How would it affect the future?” It’s a fun philosophical thing to ponder.
That’s the basic premise of the song, with a romantic story intertwined within it.
Halfway through the song, there’s a rhythmic time change, and I thought that was a cool way to metaphorically represent the idea with the sonic arrangement!
Legendary keyboard player Rob Preuss contributed his musical magic to the song!
Jason Frederick created wonderfully cinematic orchestrations that illuminate the melodies.
I’m incredibly lucky to work with such fantastic musicians!
I find it incredible that after the release of The Record Collector in 2018, you still have creativity left. It was and is such a statement, a true piece de resistance. But the stream of creativity seems endless?
I deeply appreciate the kind words!
“The Record Collector” was an epic undertaking! (a 31 Song, Triple Vinyl Box Set) That album was a major personal accomplishment!
At the end of the day, I love making records. Once it was completed, I immediately needed to move on.
I’m always chasing the next idea, trying to catch lightning in a bottle!
I look at artists from the 1960s as a template; they’d put out a couple of LPs a year, plus singles!
Artists I admire often reinvent themselves; they’re creative chameleons… always moving forward.
This is something I try to emulate!
Here’s a technique/ secret I use to keep inspired, to tap into the stream of creativity- I think of songwriting as my imagination’s jukebox or radio station.
Visualizing like this allows me to explore the subconscious…
it’s a way of almost meditating songs into existence. Pulling a rabbit out of a hat musically lol!
Songwriting is a lifelong pursuit. It’s a daily ritual for me. I love the mysterious process of songwriting, creating something from nothing.
The Foreign Films’ Magic Shadows LP is the newest selection from my imagination’s jukebox.
I truly hope people enjoy it!
One more thing-
Heartfelt thanks and love to everyone who worked on my new LP, “Magic Shadows“
Carl Jennings, Rob Preuss, Jason Fredrick, Steve Eggers, Dave Rave, Kristie Ryder, and Brian Hetherman.