Features Interviews A Conversation with The Foreign Films

A Conversation with The Foreign Films

The Foreign Films
The Foreign Films
Article by: Chad Hutchings

The singer-songwriter talks about the consuming pursuit of creating music.

In my ongoing effort to understand the chaos behind the polished pieces that works their way through my headphones, I found myself seated in a bar a while back, sipping pints with Hamilton's Bill Majoros to discuss history, writing, and what's in store.  Despite being a musician and songwriter for longer than some of you have been out of diapers, he's proof personified of the constant evolution of an artist, even now honing his approach in the industry and working out new battle plans for his most recent indie rock effort, The Foreign Films.

While he could boast a long list of acts and an impressive array of collaborators on his resume, Majoros might be best known for his involvement in Flux A.D., strumming alongside the likes of Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh, Erin Aurich of Hey Rosetta, and Great Lake Swimmers' Julie Fader. As prime songwriter for the group, Majoros spent his time making the meat of the tracks, looking to lead vocalist Fader for the final finesse. "I would come in with the genesis of the song," he explained, "and she would bring in the missing puzzle pieces. She was great at bringing in the elements that I was looking for, like an archaologist sifting through the sand."

Like all good things, though, Flux A.D. eventually came to an end, with the members shooting out to find new paths. For his part, despite any real conscious intention to do so, Majoros scaled back, reevaluating his course. "I was learning to feel comfortable telling my own story," he mused. Yet, through it all, one thing remained clear: He wanted to stay in music. So, after some time spent writing with no direction in particular, he launched into his solo project, The Foreign Films.
 
After such a long history working within groups, why did Majoros head out solo this time around?

"When you're 19, you can hop in a van and just take off - not that I wouldn't hop in a van now... but, well, all my friends in my musical circle are incredibly talented, but everyone's sort of got their own thing going on. And of course, as you get older, everyone's got their lives to contend with. As a solo artist, what I'm able to do is to look at it a little bit more like a collective and kinda go, 'Okay, here's some great friends of mine that are available to do some shows.' A month from now, these people may not be available. I just draw on it a bit more like a collective. It's a solo project, but when I do play with other musicians, I look at it that night like 'That's the band.' I try to pick people who can bring something to the table to elevate what I'm doing, often way higher than I could on my own."

So, under the new moniker, The Foreign Films released the debut LP Distant Star in 2007, to strong critical reception. This LP, with its soaring 22 song track listing, stood alone as the act's only release for another three years, at which point the four track EP Fire From Spark came to life. Toward the end of that three year stretch, Majoros found himself pondering the same question that I was about to ask: What kept causing those long hauls between releases?

"Time can fly when you're working in the studio and immersing yourself in these songs, creating these little sonic journals or these little films in your mind. But, if you're not communicating them to anyone... well, I think an artist perhaps has a certain responsibility to communicate them, and I finally realized it was time to get it out there. Time can just slip away. I think you've got a way better chance of communicating with people if you keep it fresh. I've been guilty of sitting on things too long, and overthinking things."

It was this realization that caused the songwriter to redirect his strategy, with a goal to release work as it came, staying current and getting work out quickly so another three years didn't slip away.

"Working in the new framework, it allows you to take some different chances. It can be a nice way to sort of test and see what people are responding to, like a sonar. You send it out into the world and see what resonates. Ultimately, As musicians and writers, we're just telling stories, and you hope that someone grabs onto some part of your narrative that touches them.”

That sort of sentiment, of course, begs the obvious question: what story is Majoros trying to tell in his work? Is there a theme to be found in newest releases?

"I look at songs like a bit of a sonic journal, but there's fact and fiction interwoven. This isn't meant to be a cop-out at all, but I write and analyze it after the fact, and it's quite a bit like psychoanalyzing yourself. Quite frankly, I try to write in stream of consciousness, sort of zero it down, play and see what phonically feels good. After the fact, oftentimes, I'll think I'm being all abstract, and then I'll look back and go 'Oh! that was actually pretty obvious, what I was speaking about.' But I do like the idea of writing in character and looking at it like a mini novel. That's partly why I call my project The Foreign Films. I like to look at songs like little films, and sometimes an imaginary point of view might be more interesting than my own personal point of view.  Of course, oftentimes they're interwoven, whether I like it or not."

In the past few weeks, two new tracks have been released by The Foreign Films, available at the link below. These tracks, paired with tunes from the last EP and further unreleased work, will be featured on his upcoming sophomore LP, expected to be completed early in the new year. To help make the release possible, some strong hands are in the mix, including hamilton producer Michael Keire, who's worked with acts like Apostle of Hustle and Wildlife.  Accompanying artists like Erin Aurich, Alex McMaster (Arcade Fire) and Kori Pop lend their talents to the rotating band, and it's likely that plenty of others will get involved before all loose ends are tied.  No matter who ends up taking part before release date, though, you can be sure that this will be an album to keep on your radar.

If you're looking for plans for your weekend, The Foreign Films will be in Toronto on Friday, November 11th to take the stage at the Rivoli.