"We would love anyone who wants to join us to come along for the ride" - Fil Thorpe-Evans
If you're not familiar with World's First Cinema yet, then that will change very soon.
Formed last year by Fil Thorpe-Evans, who you will recognise from his time in Neck Deep, and John Sinclair, the duo have spent the last 18 months creating their own fantastical universe. Taking influence from the movie monsters of yesteryear, the immersive atmosphere of A24 projects and the outlandish scenarios found in games such as Dungeons & Dragons, the result is unlike anything you have heard before.
Sweeping cinematic strings, modern beats and choruses that lodge themselves in your frontal lobe like tar, there is so much to discover and so much still to come.
With the release of their new single 'Make Me A Monster', alongside a beautifully shot video, we jumped on the phone with the pair to get to the bottom of their world-building exploits...
How did World’s First Cinema come to life? What was the first conversation that kickstarted this project?
Fil: "John and I were producing separately and doing our own things initially. I decided that I wanted to do something a bit more in the cinematic realm and wondered who I knew that could sing. I had worked with John a couple of times in some producer jobs and thought his voice was so sick. We got on together, so I called him up, and we decided just to have a session.
“On the first day we wrote together we made ‘Can’t Feel Anything’ and another song which isn’t out yet. Everything from there happened quickly because we knew that we were onto something. We kept writing, and it gradually started to mould. We wrote something a bit darker, and it started to spiral into what it has become now. We’re both super into fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons and horror movies, so we put together the ideas for a heavy aesthetic thing. The music seemed to fit it well. Nothing was really that planned.”
John: “I had zero intention of starting a new project. I was full steam ahead with my solo project at the time. We met at a board game party initially and got on. Then when we had that first session, it was properly, ‘Let’s just write two songs, but that’s it’. Three weeks later, it was like, ‘You know all those other plans you had? Throw them out the window. We’re doing this’. It was so easy, and it made sense."
To be on that same page with the same vision so quickly, it’s crazy how fate works sometimes...
Fil: “We’ve all had those moments like this, but it’s much more of a long and winding road. This was the quickest musical experience I have ever had. There was no having to try and test anything. The first half an hour of being in there, we just got it.”
So, where did you start adding the extra bits and pieces? How did you start turning this into that more immersive experience?
John: “It wasn’t there instantaneously, but it was slowly spiralling out of control. We found as we were writing more, some characters kept on recurring. Then if there are characters who keep on coming back, can we take it a bit further? Can we create whole lore around these people and this world so that if people want to go even deeper, they can? So then, if we make a music video, that character has to be there with that character, and they have to tie together like this. It just became more and more exciting and painted the colours in slowly.”
Fil: “It just because a license to have as much fun as possible. I think many times when bands and artists build universes, the actual music doesn’t always meet the scale. When you listen to these songs we have, we knew that the vision had to meet the same level. It just had to have the feeling. It’s fully us doing it if because we think it’s fun.”
Though on top of everything, there is still grounded humanity to these songs. You’ve managed to inject some genuine emotions into these tracks despite them being as wondrous as they are. Has expressing yourself in these ways taught you anything about yourself that you didn’t realise was there?
John: “I didn’t think I was comfortable writing about werewolves as I am, that’s for sure. But it’s stretched my musicality in new ways. Working with Fil has made me pay attention to so many more details when it comes to production. We connect well like a jigsaw in that we get to bring our own things and fill in the gaps.
“Being able to explore these concepts and sing in a certain way, this fantastical way has been constructive too. My solo project was a lot more balled-based, and it always felt like a more self-imposed mould to fit into. The freedom we have now is unlike anything I’ve had before. It’s changed how I feel about music as a whole.”
Fil: “Keeping the songwriting muscle flexing has been such a treat. There is so much pop music out right now which is very straightforward. There’s a trend in lyrics not to be as metaphorical anymore. Say what you mean and be as real as you can to make it more visceral as possible. We may be singing about werewolves and vampires in these songs on the surface, but the real fun and important part is that underneath all those words is that very real emotion or something personal. It’s also not something you could never unravel either. It’s there to be found. That’s the challenge for us to make it so.”
So, where does ‘Make Me A Monster’ fit into all of this? It feels like the start of the central chapter of what you’ve wanted to do, so how does this introduce that?
Fil: “It was a song that came in a little bit later. We were well into the universe building by the time it came around, and a lot of the other songs that are going to be released over the coming months came earlier than this one.
“Though more than anything, it has the music video. We have tried to get the feeling and aesthetic across already, but it was about bringing it to life visually. This track makes this all feel a lot clearer. We want to make this all a lot more visual than metaphorical. If we can’t do it at that level, then we don’t want to do it at all”
It’s also meant that your relationship as artists and friends has had to develop just as quick. Sometimes it will take a band two or three albums to nail down precisely what they want, but you’ve had to build it in 18 months…
Fil: “We’ve had the conversations where it feels like we are already working on Album Two-level things, you know? But despite the plans and everything, the development has been so organic and natural. It’s come out of us, and we know we have it in our hands. We have so much material already done that we are about a year ahead of where we are right now. Though that’s really where you have to be right now.”
What has been your absolute favourite part of putting World’s First Cinema together then? Is there a moment in which you can pinpoint where you knew just how special it was?
John: “I’ve always preached that in LA, there are a lot of people who make music for other people to be pleased by. The whole goal of the song is to get other people to like it. The thing is, it doesn’t have anything to do with the artist. They probably don’t even like the song that much to begin with. It’s just a vehicle for others to like them. The irony is that the songs that blow up more are the unusual ones written by artists simply for self-pleasure. They believe in it and love it so much. I’ve always believed that, and when me and Fil were in the studio, it felt like that. Like even if nobody listened, we wouldn’t care. Nobody else is doing anything like this, and it’s a pure imprint of Fil and me. That’s so cool, and if anyone else wants in, then that’s awesome.”
Fil: “There’s always this massive pressure to make a hit, and that can result in it just sounding the same as everything else. That’s fine. But because we didn’t sit down and say, ‘How can we make a vampire and werewolf record popular?’ then we haven’t got that on our minds. It’s just a special and rare thing that we’re so happy to be a part of. We would love anyone who wants to join us to come along for the ride.”