Singer, songwriter and composer Magdalena Tul discovered her passion for music when she was 12 and started developing her singing interests in a children’s vocal band. Now she’s released a new music video together with her song ‘Empty Town’ co-composed and produced by her 12-year-old son. We caught up with Magdalena to find out more.
I wrote ‘Empty Town’ as a response to the situation we all found ourselves in.
First up, tell us about yourself - what got you into music?
It came to me very early, I’ve always loved to perform and sing, even as a kid. A real breakthrough came when I was 12 when I started singing in a local band. That’s when I realized that this is what want to do and that there won’t be any plan B. I devoted myself to my passion and here I am right now.
Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from?
Of course, a lot of great artists were a huge inspiration in my musical life, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Prince and Michael Jackson to name a few. All huge legends. Back in school I was also a huge fan of Depeche Mode, so at the time I loved everything black! ;) Growing up I was subjected to a lot of jazz and funk too, the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and many, many more.
However, I think that my biggest inspiration is and always will be Queen and Freddie. Throughout my journey in Open Mic UK I’d visit Mercury’s old house before every show. I feel that this is the way I can connect with his spirit and it made me feel closer to him. It gave me strength to go out there and totally rock it on stage.
How would you describe your musical style?
Actually I’m not a big fan of naming musical styles. I know it helps but I feel like certain labels can feel limiting. They can shoehorn an artist into one particular genre and prevent them from branching out and trying new things. Again, Freddie was a great example here. He hated it and as a result Queen’s albums were so eclectic. I love them!
That’s why you can hear all sorts of influences in my music, ranging from R&B, through soul and rock, all the way through contemporary pop. I treat my voice like in instrument too, I wouldn’t really call myself a quiet vocalist! ;) But in every song I make and I listen to I really look for one thing. Emotions. Feelings. I think that’s what is oftentimes missing these days. I believe we need to aim for more of an honest and truthful approach to music and musicmaking.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
I would love to sing and record something with Stevie Wonder, Justin Timberlake and Ed Sheeran. I believe it’ll happen one day!
Tell us about your latest release ‘Empty Town’. What’s it about?
I wrote ‘Empty Town’ as a response to the situation we all found ourselves in. I think there’s this whirlwind of emotions going through everyone’s head. We want answers and solutions as much as we want to find a scapegoat, someone to blame for this mess. It’s all driven by mass panic, by fear. I wanted to capture it in these 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 ?
I believe we need to use our hearts more to guide us through this pandemic. Focus on empathy, compassion, kindness. There’s no point in throwing names around and looking for someone to crucify. We need to unite and figure our way out and look back only to learn and prepare better for the future. That’s what my song is about.
When did you write it and where did you record it?
The idea for ‘Empty Town’ came to my during a little bicycle trip I took in March. At the time I didn’t know that this would’ve been the last time I had left the house for months. I was riding to the studio for a recording session. No official policies were put in place and enforced yet, but fear started taking over already. And it felt weird.
Looking at these deserted streets, usually bustling with life. The few people that were outside all looking terrified. I knew that they were probably faced with impossible choices they had to make. Staying home and staying safe or going to work and risking their health to make a living?
I wanted to capture all of it in a song. Later that day I came back home and found my son making music. I couldn’t help but overhear a part of what later would become the intro to ‘Empty Town’. I was inspired to write the melody and pair it with lyrics that were already circling in my head. I thought of getting some musicians to help us with the track but in the end I decided that I want it happen more… organically. That’s why entrusted the whole process to my 12 year old son.
‘Empty Town’ was co-composed and produced by your 12-year-old son. Can you tell us a bit more about his involvement?
My son, Chris, is a co-composer, he arranged, produced, mastered and mixed the song. I sensed a potential in him few years ago when he started playing guitar, piano and drums.
However, I didn’t realize that he’d go from dabbling in music here and there to full-fledged passionate little artist so quickly! He can spend all day lost in a creative process. He reminds me of myself when I was his age. It made me feel confident that it’s the right time to give him this opportunity. He earned it.
How does ‘Empty Town’ represent you?
‘Empty Town’ embodies a real, raw emotion, a universal feeling everyone can relate to in this time. Even though this track is not related to my new album, this vulnerability is exactly what I want to share with people. Both right now and on my new record. I want to go back to basics, so to speak.
What’s the concept behind the video?
I really wanted to focus on the dichotomy between what we perceive to be a normal city life and what cities actually look like now. Because what we’re currently experiencing is something we never had to face before and seeing these empty ghost towns can feel a little eerie.
I also wanted to show nature in all it’s beauty because in the end, time and time again, that’s what we turn to in times of sorrow. And right now nature is flourishing. I think this should serve as an encouragement and a reminder that we’re going to be ok. This video was created with Piotr Raksimowicz, Piotr Węglarczyk and Wojciech Szczygielski who provided photos from both Poland and UK.
Raksimowicz also took on all the editing and thanks to him I was able to see my vision come to life. We had to incorporate some stock footage as well, as we were unable to really go out there and capture all those images ourselves. Piotr wanted to include some clips of me in there but I didn’t want that to distract the listeners from the message we were trying to convey. It’s not my movie to act in.
What are your hopes for ‘Empty Town’?
My only hope for this song is for the message to reach as many people as possible. Make them believe that our world, our planet, our future is in our hands. We just have to wake up, start trusting ourselves to lead better and healthier lives. Lives where we all help each other, where we are not selfish in our belief that our planet is here for us to exploit.
Our grandparents showed us how we can support each other through a cruel war and that this is not something that can be done in peace. We need to fight for it and encourage everyone to take responsibility.
What else have you got coming up in 2020?
Well, I had a lot going on this year, however I had to slow everything down temporarily. I should’ve been in New Jersey as we speak, crafting new material. I realized that we can never plan too far ahead and just go with the flow a little more and stop living such constricted lives. I’m sure everything will go back to normal soon.
Right now we have to get a little more creative with our projects, so I’m working with my producer remotely. If everything goes the way I’m hoping it will we’re going to be ready with a new record for Autumn. And by then I hope I can be touring again.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
Oh, there’s so much of it I could write a book and gift it to myself for Christmas a decade or so ago. :) But there’s actually this one, the most important. If I could go back I’d transport to this spectacular moment in my life that was my Eurovision performance. I’d tell myself to just do it and have real fun and stop being so serious! That this is the moment, here and now! And also that the devil is in the details.
I’m still repeating the last one to myself all the time and learning in the process how to be more mindful. That’s actually strongly related to the message of my last album, ‘Mindfulness’. I finally know how important details are and how your hard work can be ruined if you don’t focus on them enough.
Watch the video for ‘Empty Town’ on YouTube below. For news go to magdalenatul.com