Interview: Morgan Visconti
Thu, 25 Jul 2013 13:15:17
About the undeniable cinematic sensibility peeking through his solo single "Can't Say Goodbye", Morgan Visconti smiles, "Some of that might come from my day job of underscoring and doing film, television, and advertising scores. It's like all of my influences are rolled into one song."
That song swoons with orchestral scope, while maintaining an infectious pop palatability. In essence, it's the perfect one-two punch, bringing together a myriad of styles into one singular and slick sound. One thing's for sure, you're going to be singing along to it long after one listen.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Morgan Visconti talks his music and more.
What's the story behind "Can't Say Goodbye"?
This is the one song on my record I didn't write the lyrics for. About eight years ago a friend of mine called Erin O'Connor was a copywriter for Ogilvy & Mather, I was actually writing a jingle for her project. We started talking about songwriting. She sent me some lyrics she'd been working saying, "Here's some poetry". I said, "These are beautiful. I'd love to write a song to these". The music came very quickly. As soon as I scanned her lyrics, I began playing something on the guitar. A melody came to mind. It's really a backwards way of working for me. Usually, I write the lyrics first and the lyrics second. In this case, her beautiful words sparked the melody and the sad structure of the song and the chords. I dusted it off last year because I decided I wanted to put a record out. It became the favorite one. It's like the flagship song for the rest of the record. It has the DNA of the record in it. It's uncompromising synth pop. The melodies hearken back to some of the softer, easy rock of the seventies that I grew up listening to.
What do those lyrics mean to you?
I definitely identify with the lyrics. I've been married before. I was in a relationship where you know you need to get out of it, but it's not terrible. You tiptoe around it. It's something everyone has gone through. You have that feeling of comfort where you really want to walk out the door, but you can't say goodbye to that person. You try over and over again. Every time you do, you go back, give it another go, and end up compromising. Even though I didn't write the lyrics, they really struck home. I know she had been through a similar situation too. We connected on that like, "You've been through a bad divorce as well? Let's write a song about that!"
Is it important for you to tell stories in the songs?
It is! I don't go about it in a straightforward way like that, but I always end up there. Sometimes, I surprise myself and the track reflects the lyrics. You couldn't put those lyrics to a happy, upbeat song. At the same time, it does have a bit of an uplift to it. I'm a big fan of large-produced soundscapes. Typically, the bands I listen to allow you to close your eyes and drift off into a dream. That's the sound I was going for with this whole record. It definitely fits. It's a little bit of insecurity and discomfort. It goes along with the territory of being in an uncomfortable relationship. It's also the sum of my electronica roots. I listened to Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode growing up. That influenced me.
What other artists shaped you?
I've always been a fan of The Cars. Then, there's Paul McCartney. Lately, I've been really into Kavinsky and that washed-out dream pop movement. It all circles back to the electronica days now and the sort of stark Gary Numan-esque synthesizers with gorgeous melodies over the top. I listen to a lot of electronica but songwriters are very important to me. I've been listening to Neil Young and John Lennon a lot lately. I find these kinds of melodies work on an electronic backing as well as guitar. The songwriters I listen to filter into my music. I think Martin Gore is one of the best songwriters of the eighties and nineties.
Putting that traditional structure into more futuristic music is intriguing.
Exactly! If I were to describe my record as a whole, it's about struggling to find your inner humanity amongst all of the technology we live with today. Everything is phone-driven. Internet is everything. Struggling to find human relationships in that is something everyone is going through that. People don't spend as much time with their kids as they used to. I actually have a song about that too on my record. It's about being babysat by computer games growing up. The overriding theme is human melodies over an electronic backing.
What's your favorite song on the album right now?
There's one on the middle of the record I'm very proud of. It breaks the mold a little bit in that it has a string quartet on it. It has the message of trying to fit in and be more human, but I spend my whole day in front of this computer screen. It's called "When I Was Young". It's probably the most stark and electronic-sounding, but it has a little twist at the end when the string quartet comes in. If "Can't Say Goodbye" is the pop song, this is the centerpiece of the album.
If your album were a movie or a combination of movies what would you compare it to?
I'd say Scarface and Drive. Those are two of my favorite gangster movies. The soundtracks to those movies definitely relate. They're similar in sonic textures. I'm a huge Giorgio Moroder fan.
Have you heard Morgan Visconti yet? Watch the "Can't Say Goodbye" over on Morgan's website.