From San Francisco, CA, the electro-pop/new wave duo The Major Arcana gets our blood pumping with their moody and conceptual single entitled "Masque."
While creating music for the indie queer erotic thriller film 'X,' The Major Arcana later formed their duo through the stylings of vocalist/songwriter Scott J. Ramsey and instrumentalist Kevin De Nicolo. Creating an immersive story-world through their music, The Major Arcana takes on a theatrical vocal style alongside gothic masquerade imagery.
Delving into their latest single, "Masque," The Major Arcana delivers a highly conceptual theme throughout this track, basing the piece around body dysphoria/dysmorphia and the empowerment of aesthetically representing one's identity. While the instrumentals give us moody and goth-pop flairs, we're left sinking deeper into the groaning aches of this heavy hitter.
Playing "Masque," a mid-tempo new wave beat opens the song alongside soothing background synths and Scott J. Ramsey's moody and sultry vocal stylings, offering feelings of domination and power through each breath. While singing highly sensual and descriptive lyricism to keep us all the more engaged, the surrounding instrumentals begin to sink deeper and groan with heavy electric guitars and eerie synth melodies.
We genuinely admire the dark tone and mystical feel of this gripping single, especially as The Major Arcana continues their passionate journey with each lyric and haunting element. While the instrumentals continue their cinematic venture throughout the song, The Major Arcana ends the piece on a heavily intimate and mysterious note.
Catch The Major Arcana's latest sultry single, "Masque," on all streaming platforms, and lock yourself into the goth-pop duo's enigmatic ways.
We adore the dark tones and sultry feel of your latest single, "Masque." Where did the inspiration for this song come about?
The song “Masque” was born from the lyric, “My masque is my real face,” which was the first lyric I ever wrote that felt I was nailing exactly what I was trying to say. Our music act The Major Arcana launched while we were creating music for an indie queer erotic feature film we were making called X. We were initially just making music for the film, but about halfway through the process, we realized that we really wanted the music to live and breathe as its own complete piece. “Masque” was one of the first songs that were not written for X, even though it totally fits the themes and vibe of the movie. The sonic palette was influenced a great deal by Siouxsie and the Banshees, particularly their song “Face to Face,” which is also about masks. We wanted the song to feel Wintery, gothic, and vampiric.
How does the single "Masque" tie in with the theme and feel of its parent album 'At the Devil's Ball?'
The song is saying that my clothes are more me than my naked body because I chose them. It really came about from me asking myself what I wanted everyone to know about me if I could bake it down to a short phrase. And it’s that I’m okay being whatever you want, just see me for what I show you, not a category that society chooses. This album 'At the Devil’s Ball' is really an invitation to come to experience a world where no fantasy is too obscene. It’s an album about shame, and about defying roles. The title comes from a 1913 ragtime song by Irving Berlin. Our cover of the song sits at the center of both our album and our film X, within which it serves as the backing track for a burlesque performance by a character in the film. The number takes place at a masked sex party for young overly privileged urbanites, hosted by the elusive Christian King, the titular X. Christian’s debaucherous balls are a “safe space” for her guests, where they can indulge in their wildest pleasures without judgment; as she puts it, “…in our house, no fantasy is too obscene.” Little do the attendees of her events realize that she is a predatory voyeur and keeps a hidden camera in the guest bathroom - the terrible irony of the story being that her own promise of a sanctuary for her guests free of shame is all a house of cards. This album exists at an intersection between the characters in the movie, and myself. The movie to a degree is about the destructive power of shame. Only speaking for myself, I find categories to be the death of art and identity. This album is a yearning for limitlessness - about destroying old norms. These songs are pop, but the sounds my bandmate Kevin [De Nicolo] made are very destructive sounds - they sound like knives, spinning blades, blenders.
What did you want your listeners to feel through the overall sonics and mysterious approach within the single “Masque?"
I’d like for the listener to feel like they are entering a world that is spooky and seductive, and to feel powerful in their vulnerability. Art and sex both are about laying bare what is often hidden. So this music is an examination of that process, and hopefully also feels rich and entertaining! It’s queer, it’s theatrical, it’s dark and gothic.
You’ve mentioned that your group strives to tell stories through songs, films, and music videos. What sort of stories and concepts do you usually touch on within your creative works?
Our goal is to create a fantasy experience that shows the destructive nature of dogmatic categories and stigmas and contrasts that with the beauty, liberation, and fun of being subversive and limitless. I also like the idea of revisiting and remixing sounds and themes - for example, elite masked sex parties from the film Eyes Wide Shut or goth-pop music of the New Wave - and bringing them into a new context with a different perspective, and with this raw indie edge that naturally comes with making art on a micro-budget level. We also made several music videos to songs from the album, which can be found on our YouTube channel, which takes all these themes and concepts to a more surreal place. These videos we did are basically fever dreams that remix the story elements of the movie and the music with mythology and fairy tale imagery.
What would you like new listeners to know about the music that you create?
I’m nothing special, I have no idea if I’m any good at making movies or music - all I care about is trying my best to tell a story in the most compelling way. I think I fail often but I find the failure as delicious as the success. I think this kind of passion about my work isn’t a crime but I do often get judged for it, which always makes me sadder than being judged for being queer because my artistry feels as true to me as sexuality. But only one of those things - the one I can’t control, is deemed as “important”. That’s what this album’s about: how your choices are more “you” than your circumstances. I’d also want them to know about our creative team behind both the movie and the music, Kevin De Nicolo who made this album with me, Lien Do who composed the film’s score with Kevin, and also was our engineer, Matthew Pereira who mastered the album, Hannah Katherine Jost who wrote a few songs with me and was also my writing partner on the film. This album was a journey of blood, sweat, and rose petals, and it really was made just through all of us organically and earnestly trying to tell this story and create this immersive experience.