Hi Magdalena, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hi, thank you, I’m healthy and safe, so far so good. Isolation seems to be a very big part of my life anyway. These days instead of studio sessions and concerts I’m trying to focus on developing new skills and writing new songs.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Empty Town”?
“Empty Town” is my answer to this hard time. Over the past few weeks this situation has evoked various emotions. From denial and fear, through anger, frustration, feeling of helplessness… then on the contrary a desire to fight at all costs. Where is the truth? Who is responsible ?
You can find it in lyrics :
“Where is the truth
How to learn to swim
In the sea of fake news
We don’t know where it’s all begun
Who started this invisible world war
Where do we go ?”
Eventually my mind was silenced by my heart. I opened up to understanding and love, to what I can do, not whom to blame. It may sound trivial but are we capable of forgiving people who are sometimes responsible for bad things? I’m working on it. I want to believe that only armed with compassion we’re able to defeat evil and lies. To stop passing judgement and start loving and forgiving.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
The idea for “Empty Town” came up during my bicycle trip for the last possible recording, just before the pandemic stared to take over. Seeing a ghost town on TV is one story. Being in the centre of it all is another. Riding through streets devoid of life when you’re used to seeing them so full of it. The horror on the faces of people you pass. All the ordinary folk faced with painful choices that have to be made. Like a scared, well-known saleswoman who has to decide whether to risk her life or give up her job. It made me want to capture those feelings, both in a song and on the video.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
Filmmaking is a great passion of a lot of my friends. I immediately pitched my idea to them. They tried to capture this one of a kind picture of cities completely devoid of life as safely as possible. Thanks to Piotr Raksimowicz, Piotr Weglarczyk and Wojciech Szczygielski we have photos from Poland and from London. There’s even footage of beaches in Gdańsk where I spent half of my teenage life. Of course we had to use some stock footage as well. I wanted to show this contrast between the emptiness of powerful, concrete cities and a hope for a normal, beautiful life among nature. Peter is responsible for all the editing and he’s the person that helped me realize my vision. We fought a little because he tried to put me in this video at every opportunity he had, mainly clips from my concerts or me running on the beach. I didn’t want it. I told him that I’m not playing in this movie and in the end he had to rest his case!
How was the recording and writing process?
The main part of chorus came to me during that bicycle trip. It was snowy outside, so it wasn’t a particularly nice one! My car was broken and it was the beginning of self-isolation policies so I didn’t want to take a bus or a taxi. When I came back home I found my son making music, as always. I heard a part of the intro. It inspired me to write the melody and lyrics.
What was it like to have your preteen son producing the song? How did that come about?
It was obvious to me that we would use my son’s song. Chris is only twelve so in the beginning I was thinking of getting my musicians to play some of its parts and finding someone to mix it. However, given the intimate nature of self-isolation, I decided for the first time in my life that it should be a one hundred percent homemade project. It doesn’t need to be perfect. I want it to be honest. My son deserved to be fully involved, he’s so hard working and passionate! And so he arranged, produced, mastered and mixed the song. It’s crazy!
How did this rare working environment get to influence the song?
Actually, recording at home gives you more time and that’s a rare luxury. You don’t have to pay for studio time. On the other hand, what we have is only a substitute of a real studio, we only have basic equipment like a computer and the right software. I even had to borrow a professional microphone. Sometimes when you’re recording at home you don’t know when you are finished, there’s no one to give you this objective assessment of the recording. But my son did it. When he said it was done – it was done.
What role does the Poland play in your music?
Sometimes I hear that my melodies are conceived with a Slavic imagination. The truth is that I was always inspired by English and American artists. That’s why I prefer singing in English. I just feel music differently in this language. For me, it flows better. I usually write in English first. Maybe my older brother is to blame, he would listen to The Beatles and Pink Floyd vinyls all the time. These musical roots gave me the desire to reach international audiences. Poland will always be my home and where most of my family is. However, I also believe that home is where your people are and where your heart is. And that can be anywhere.
How has Paloma Faith and Jessie J (or other artists?) influenced your writing?
Oh, there are so many artists who influenced my music! Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Ed Sheeran, The Beatles, Prince, Queen & Freddie Mercury, to name a few. I love Freddie’s personality. Throughout my journey in Open Mic UK I’d visit his home before every show. It may sound crazy but I believe we are all a part of something bigger and that we’re still able to connect with the divine. And we are. I feel it.
Do you tend to take a different approach when working with someone else rather than your own?
I usually cooperate with a lot of people: my band, additional musicians and producers. It’s great because every single one of them brings something to the table. I really love big projects where loads of hands are involved. It’s so inspiring. But during the early stages of any musical project, writing for example, I much prefer to work alone. As an introvert it gives me comfort and confidence in my ideas which I share later with others.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
‘Empty Town’ appeared in reference to our current circumstances but it’s actually unrelated to the new album. In fact, it served as a break in writing sessions for it! My new material is very unique for me. I’ve had so many experiences and I’ve dabbled in so many different things in music… I feel that it’s time for the real Magdalena now. I want to share my knowledge with people through music. Back to my roots, more organic sound, more truth and also more power. I’m tired of everything that’s artificial.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
I don’t think I can say it, at least not yet. I want to be prepared and be sure that my work won’t be wasted because, let’s say, I trust the wrong people. We actually had to push everything from spring to autumn. But stay tuned! Everything has its time. And I believe it will be right on time.
What else is happening next in Magdalena Tul’s world?
My world, like almost everyone’s world, has stopped for a while. I had great plans, diaries filled to brims and now I see that planning so far ahead is not worth all that much. You just have to be patient. When the borders open I’ll resume all my projects as a lot of them require me to travel outside Poland. I was actually supposed to be in New Jersey right about now, working on something new. But that had to be put on hold. I hope it’s not too long now. Currently I’m working remotely with my producer. It’s all we can do. Should everything go well we will be ready with new material for Autumn. And I’ll be able to get back on the road and play concerts again.