Hi Mark, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Doing alright all things considered. I got a really nice place down in south Nashville right on a creek with about and acre of land. My studio is here, my fridge is full of food. And my unemployment is supposedly gonna hit this week. Fingers crossed.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “To The Moonlight”? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
It was written pretty quickly after a little online stalking spree of my very recent ex-girlfriend at the time. She was, you know, making sure to display to the world that she was living her best life. It felt like every post was made for me, to make sure that I knew how well she was doing, and how much fun she was having without me. I knew it wasn’t all true, but it still got to me. This song is me dealing with it.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
We shot it in one ridiculously hot day in early October day with some friends and the director, Casey Pierce. I think the high that day was 92 degrees. Even though it was supposed to be set in the fall or winter, so I wore a leather jacket. I borrowed my co-workers ’80s Chevy Blazer, drove to the Casey’s studio, did the ex-girlfriend shots, then we hit the streets for a couple more locations. I’d shot another video for a friend’s song under the same overpass a years ago so I wanted to shoot there for the walking scenes at sunset. Needed to show off those silver boots. Then we went to East Nashville for the alleyway scene and the fight scene. We choreographed the fight scene on the spot with my actor friend, Milton Katz, who I end up waling on and leaving for dead. Probably shot about 5 or 6 takes. Threw him on the ground every time. Then when I’m on the ground laying into him, I accidentally punched him in the face. Pulled back fast enough to not leave to much of a mark. My immediate reaction was to kiss it better, which I did. He was a good sport about it.
The single comes off your new album Going To The Movies – what’s the story behind the title?
The 6th song on the record called ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ has that line in it. It goes, “Thanks and thoughts and prayers to you, I’m going to the movies.” Empty well wishes followed by immediate escape, something I think we’re all a little guilty of, myself probably more so than others. I also want this record to provide that escape for people though too. Just a half an hour and some change of bedroom pop to ease the existential dread, you know?
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote the songs over the course of a year or so. I had a lot of songs to sort through, so I just cherry-picked the ones I thought were the strongest. Had to come out the gates swinging. “Come Find Me (If There’s Anything I Can Do)” took me probably more than a month to write. I had the hook written, and the verse melody, but the rhyme scheme called for so many internal rhymes that it really took me a second. Wrote it mostly in my head, at work, in the shower, basically any silent moment throughout the day. If I got one couplet a day, I was happy. Super proud of that song. “Hole Up and Die” and “To the Moonlight” were written within weeks of each other after a bad breakup. That inspiration that intense change brings upon. Sometimes I wish I could go through a bad breakup once every couple weeks just so the songs could keep flowing. Mostly joking. “Bitchin Summer” was written mostly at work whilst washing dishes then I finished it when I got home. Same with “Only the Best (From This Point On)” but in the bathroom. Recording the record took about 6 months of obsession at my modest little home studio in south Nashville. I’d always recorded my demos at home, but never set out to make a real record. I figured what I didn’t know, I’d figure out along the way with a pile-driver of determination and a heaping amount of guess and check. I just wanted to make my own version of a pop record. Turns out pop music requires a lot of work. But I put it in, and what I ended up with is the best thing I’ve ever done with my life.
What role does Nashville play in your music?
The songwriting style of Nashville, very generally speaking, doesn’t really play a role in my songwriting. But as far as the caliber of music I’m trying to make goes, I’d say Nashville plays a huge role. The bar is set so high here performance and writing wise, whether the writing is my thing or not, that you have to make sure you’re always striving to make great, well-executed music in order for any one to even pay a lick of attention to you.
What is it about the 80s that you find so fascinating?
The polos were perfect. The synthesizers were sparkly. The tennis shoes make me happy. I love the idea of taking sparkly sounds and looks and combining them with dark elements. Exhibit A: “Dancing In the Dark.” Pop masterpiece about depression and the fear of stagnancy. That’s the kinda stuff I wanna make, gated snare and everything.
How has Meat Loaf and Billy Joel influenced your writing?
The theatrical vocal performance of Meat Loaf and the heavy-handed nostalgia of the ‘Bat Out of Hell’ record lyrically and otherwise will always hold a special place in my heart. And Billy Joel, besides being a master piano man, had a special ability to write about his faults, the nasty parts of himself, and how those played into the delicacy of romantic relationships. All the while keeping them within a catchy and highly melodic pop format that speaks to me more than any other artist. All I wanna do is write a song as good as “She’s Always a Woman.” Hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll die trying.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
The news. But mostly my romantic relationships. The end of them, the beginning of them, the middle of them. Mostly just one, a big one. Pepper in some existential dread, some unadulterated darkness, and a love of heartland rock and roll and modern pop, and you got ‘Going to the Movies.’
Any plans to hit the road?
As soon as the world regains some sense of normalcy and we’re given the all clear to tour again, I’ll be out there playing as many shows as they’ll let me.
What else is happening next in Mark Fredson’s world?
Soooooooo close to finishing tracking for album 2. Just need a little sax, a little more guitar and bass, and a string arrangement for a country song. Not stopping any time soon.