Interview: Joshua Seigal - Florentine Candy

Joshua Seigel’s ‘Florentine Candy’ is a concept album discussing identity, depression, and heartbreak. A film student at Chapman University in California, Joshua talked to me about the ups and downs of studies, filmmaking and sound design.

Words by Lewis Abbott

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Lewis) What was your thinking behind this concept album?

Joshua) What I was trying to do with Florentine Candy was to create a style of music that sounded uniquely "me", and to tell a cohesive narrative story about the last year of my life. Music has always been a very important part of my life, but as I started diving more into sound-designing films, I realised I could apply the same techniques I used with my films in music. I think you can really feel that Florentine Candy is one long narrative that is driven more by story than anything else. Because of this, the songs don't really sit in one genre, but instead take sounds and inspiration from where the story has led it: a psychedelic electronic feel in ‘Smells Like Sex’ to show the effects of drugs and loss; a cute and acoustic feel in ‘Beyond Mount Shasta, There is a Cathedral’ to show what my closest friends were able to do for me when I was at my worst; and the spoken-word narrative in ‘Interlude’ as I was introduced to a new person – just to point out a few examples. Even with these different inspirations, however, I believe I was able to keep a singular "style" that is cohesive and carries on throughout the album. I feel very proud of that.

 And how would you describe the overall concept?

Florentine Candy is a concept piece that feels like one long auditory journey that tells my story of battling with identity, depression and heartbreak. In some ways it can be described as a break-up album, but I believe coming-of-age would better describe it. This was my first real attempt at making music, and throughout the LP you can see me developing and finding my style in real time, and developing a new identity.

 What are the perks and pitfalls of life as a film student?

The main perk is that I'm making films! Filmmaking, in my opinion, is the most difficult art to master and is impossible to perfect. A good director has to understand composition, colour, photography, choreography, design, acting, sound, music and a handful of other art disciplines in order to make the film they dream up. I've been privileged enough to even try, and I'm surrounded by very talented students and instructors to help me. A pitfall, however, would be that I'm constantly busy, and it is hard for me to balance my interests in filmmaking and music. This next semester I'm attempting to produce a short film and my next album! Here's hoping that's not a pipe dream...

 What’s your favourite score?

The soundtrack for Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs The World is one of my favourites in any movie. Not only did this film inspire my filmmaking, it's also what got me interested in sound design. There's definitely subconscious inspiration from that in Florentine Candy. A more recent film soundtrack I've been into is Gaspar Noé's Climax. That soundtrack has some crazy, trippy stuff. 

 If you could do the sound design for any film-series past or future, what would it be?

I would love to take old classics like Sunrise or The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and give them a more contemporary soundscape. Given the power that sound has on films, it would completely change the way they are viewed by more casual audiences. Instead of being perceived as out-dated, they would, via the soundtrack, be recognised as more groundbreaking, edgy and cool (for a want of better words).