Vocalist and Keyboardist for Movieland. Credited as an Arranger and Writer.
In 2007, I was contacted by a reader who told me that Richard Lewis was now a teacher in the Salem, Massachusetts area. I contacted him at his school's address and he responded! Apparently one of his students had noticed this site years previously, but the e-mail was lost. We talked and he agreed to answer some questions about the band, and the result was this essay.
Richard Lewis on Movieland
The band formed in 1984, when I met Lothar Segeler, who was working in New York as a recording engineer at a small studio in the basement of an apartment building on Broadway. He had some personal studio time allotted to him as part of his arrangement with the studio, and I told him that I had some songs that I had written, and maybe we could use his free studio time to record some demos. The free studio hours were of course in the middle of the night, so we would start about 9pm, and stagger out onto Broadway early in the morning. Once we had a few songs, especially "Postcard to New York", we realized that we should find someone to sing them, so Lothar suggested Davia, and we went to a small club in the West Village where she was singing cabaret. So the band formed as a studio entity, and never played live until well after the album was recorded. The pop focus was mine, as was the notion of creating "Lament", which was certainly an early form of sampling, and the production quality was definitely Lothar's.
Lothar had some contacts in the music business, and a producer named Hank Medress liked our demos, and took us to Charles Koppelmann's Entertainment Company, who took us to RCA records. The all took place without a single gig being played, all on the basis of the song "Postcard to New York". We went back to the studio and started to record the album, and eventually ended up working in a number of different studios in Manhattan to finish various tracks. The next highlight was definitely the video, which was filmed over the course of three nights, and which eventually appeared late night on MTV, and was actually nominated for an award.
From there it went steadily downhill: RCA records did not bother to ask us what kind of band we were, and the marketing was therefore terrible or non-existent, and it just became gradually more difficult to get anyone on the phone. We played some gigs in the New York area, which was fun, but there weren't enough of them for us to get really good or develop a following. Given RCA's lack of a clue, it is probably good we did not lock in a deal for more albums, which would have been a waste of effort.
It's funny that the whole music business now has changed, effectively rendering these large, useless, out-of-touch record companies obsolete. The technology of making music has now evolved to the point that a couple of years ago I set up a computer based recording studio of my own, like so many musicians now have, which is at least the equal of that analog studio back in the eighties. My new band, Machine 475, is continuing my love of electronic pop, and we've added harp and theremin to our live performances, which are going great in the Boston area. And I wouldn't take another major record deal if they begged me.
To fans of Movieland, thanks for enjoying our brief pop moment. And to Lothar and Davia, keep in touch. And to Jason, you are clearly the number one fan, and thank you for your enduring enthusiasm. If you're near Boston, look me up.