Class Actress returned to her origin of Los Angeles to create her new record. After living in New York for most of her life, the city of angels beckoned her back. The city forms the backdrop of her new EP, Movies, which explores how we all have the potential to create and live our own imagined realities - or films - as a way of coping through life. She explains how the experience of making the EP has made her believe in magic.

After being signed to the notorious '70s disco label, Casablanca Records, re-aligned a musical and family legacy in recruiting iconic producer Giorgio Moroder as its executive producer and Evan Bogart (son of Neil Bogart who worked closely with Moroder during the '70s and '80s). Movies fuses '80s leaning electronic pop with modern production, with lyrics of self-discovery and the powerful potential of desire. I spoke with Class Actress about this unique studio dynamic, the power of imagination and relationships we form with ourselves.

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This EP is partly inspired by your move from New York to Los Angeles. Why did you decide to relocate?

I went to LA because that's where Class Actress was born. I ultimately did a reverse-origin story. I had to go back to where I came from to remember why I left. There were personal reasons too but I went there to write. Sometimes when you're different and when you're making a big change in your life - you switch cities, you flip coasts.

When you got back to LA, what were the main differences you could see compared to New York?

It's so different. New York has an organic creative energy, whereas LA has the overshadow of packaging and formulas. LA is where movies are made with massive productions and a hundred people involved. You can't just act on your own there - you have to have a director and you have to have a producer. You go to LA to have a more collaborative experience. As the casting director of my own movie, I wanted to find more people.

And you certainly did with Giorgio Moroder!

It's such a blessing. This experience has changed me a lot because now I do believe in magic. I want to pinch myself all the time about how lucky I got and work with him, considering his catalogue and soundtracks. Also, Evan Bogart is the son of Neil Bogart who is the founder of Casablanca Records. It was a real spiritual experience to see Evan and Giorgio, who was very close with Evan's father, work together on this record. For Giorgio's first-ever Oscar acceptance speech he thanks Neil and his wife. I was thrilled to be the catalyst for them coming together.

What was Giorgio's involvement in the creative process of the songs?

The first thing we worked on was 'High On Love'. I went into the studio with Evan and Giorgio, I had this great recording of the three of us singing. He's the executive producer - he sprinkled fairydust over everything. I got to meet his wife and we went to this club called Giorgio's, which is named after him. I love everything that he's about his time is so romanticized in my head with stories of cocaine on the front desk. For me, that whole period in music is a fantasy world. The whole thing was part of my indulgent decadent fantasy of what it would have been like to be popstar back then. I wanted to meet the legend behind the legend. So I got two legends; the son, the father and the holy ghost.

Did you feel any way intimidated going into the studio with them given that Moroder and Casablanca were so much a part of the cultural zeitgeist and music you love?

Of course, I was nervous the first time I met Giorgio - I had to be. He is so lovely and he has the energy of a little kid. He's so excited all the time. I've been in the studio with a lot of people and I haven't met anyone with this level of enthusiasm for music. What I took away from him is how pure his energy is and that has to be why he is still making music now. When you love music like that, it's divine. The amount of things I learnt from him is not quantifiable.

Do you find it easy to communicate sound with new producers in the studio?

I don't at all. That's the whole reason why you work with certain people and you don't with others. I've been in situations where we couldn't communicate and it didn't work out. I'm pretty clear about what I want. The whole point of collaborating is that you don't have to explain yourself. You meet someone who is on the same wavelength as you and has better ideas than you or ways of executing your ideas. I work with people who have a flash-drive into the back of my head. They understand music the same way I do.

You need to be emotionally intuitive with each other.

It's all about the energy and the mood. Even when it is a challenge to communicate in the studio, it forces you to be as specific as possible. In all art forms, whatever you can simplify as much as possible gives you a concentrated power. The whole goal of this record was to become a better pop writer and to say more with less. That's what makes great pop music - a better melody or a simpler beat. That's the key to all great art. It's a Lichtenstein thing: take a great comic, make it really big, put your own personal fear into it and you've got a masterpiece.

You said earlier that you're the director of your own music. While writing, do you see songs like film scenes?

Absolutely, if I can't see the movie I can't see the song. I need to see the cinematography of it. It all starts with an emotion, something that's catalyzed from an actual life experience that creates an intense emotion inside my body that I need to channel through music.

Since you see this EP as a reverse-origin story or a return to where you initiated Class Actress, while the 'More Than You' video amplifies all your references to date like David Lynch and Bret Easton Ellis. Did you want to create a transgressive visual to go with the song?

Totally, that's the reality of all the stuff you see behind the scenes. Less Than Zero is great example, in that, you can have everything but without love you don't have anything. It's the classic Hollywood idea of being alone in a room full of people. I feel that every time you pick up your iPhone, you trade reality for fantasy. We live in a world where every one is in their own movie. We don't have any separation of what we curate and what we don't because everything is in frame or a square box. I think people are starting to realize that the world is quite meta - if you can dream it in your mind, you can create it. There's just so much more that we're accessing these days. We're putting everything in a movie - a personal movie.

That's certainly in the title song. You have the line "I need a reason to stay in the movies". What I took from that is how sometimes its easier to live in a fictitious creation we make for ourselves - but ultimately we have to face up to it?

That's very true. After I finished the 'More Than You' video, I had a bit of a freakout. I realized that I had been living in my own movie for so long. I put so much of my darkness in that video that I folded into light. Life is about getting to know what's in your unconscious, your dark side and putting a light on it so you can become a more realized person. You're going to be crazy if you don't look at those things. You can create a fictitious version of yourself but if you don't know the difference, I don't think it's healthy.

The most important relationship is the one with ourselves. I came to think about these things and analyze them, what I came to realize is that imagination is powerful. I'm sober as can be - I don't drink or do drugs. I have a lot of anxiety and the other day I was walking through a group of people. I imagined that each of them were an animal from the jungle - just to feel safe walking through them. We use it to make the world less frightening. Imagination to me is more real than anything else. We all have a desire to touch these perfect things in life so our desire for illusion is the most honest thing about us.

It's like that idea Salvador Dali said "I don't do drugs. I am drugs."

Exactly! We're on the same wavelength. That's what the cover of the EP is: I'm snorting up the lights of LA. It's saying how addicted we are to the illusion. because we don't actually want the reality, we don't want it. I may come to regret doing these interviews and kept my sunglasses on - but I have them on inside.

Sometimes it's good for listeners to get an understanding of where you yourself are coming from, which can add another layer to the music. I still remember hearing 'Journal of Ardency' and hearing the dynamic between self-certainty and vulnerability. It instilled that complex nature of sexuality that we all have.

We live in a world where sexuality is so complicated. It's complicated where it shouldn't be. Ultimately, people need complex things to feel alive and they need them to be really simple at the same time. 'Journal of Ardency' definitely had that dynamic. It's like the Marilyn Monroe syndrome: what made her so sexy was that she was so vulnerable. No matter how hard she tried to not be vulnerable, it was so obvious. I think true sexiness is being strong in spite of it.

With all that said, does writing music give you sense of clarity about these complex emotions?

Yes. I started writing music because I had so many feelings that I didn't understand but when I opened my mouth and put them into a melody, I found the truth. Whenever I'm really conflicted, a hook or the melody is the absolute truth. I want to make music that withstands the test of time.


Movies is out now on Casablanca.