Hide and Seek
It’s hard not to give in wholeheartedly to a Slow Magic tune. In an age when pop songs are calculated for maximum hooks-per-minute and too many of the top EDM anthems are uninspired filler surrounding a one-second “drop,” one comes to appreciate a DJ who takes his time crafting a mood, a sense of time and place. With songs like “Feel Flows” and last year’s hit “Girls,” Slow Magic employs a sound just as appropriate for daydreaming in one’s room as it is for vibing out in the center of a thousand-strong crowd.
Slow Magic’s overall style is a smart hybrid of night-blooming house and helio-therapeutic synthpop, re-igniting the sound of chillwave for the stadium set. No matter how ecstatic his music gets, it retains an overall sense of calm, each track taking its time and sticking with you well after your first listen.
The wellspring of Slow Magic’s mystique is not easily pinned down. Much of this is due to his efforts to remain anonymous, a conscious decision on his part to winnow down the unnecessary complications of public image into the icon of his luminescent fauna mask. But even at face value, his design choice seems heartfelt and not gimmicky in the slightest, smartly sidestepping the bombastic logo-helmets favored by DeadMau5 or Cazzette. His chosen face is an extension of the music, curious and disarming—the face of your imaginary friend. During live shows, he bolsters the luxurious sound of his albums with furious drumming on the tom-toms, instantly spiking the energy of the crowd and driving home the real human presence of the Slow Magic ethos. This is where his true identity is revealed. There is an unspoken understanding between him and his fans, that names, faces, places and dates are of little interest compared to the vivid world being created in real time, between the stage and the audience.
Sacramento fans will be able to enter this world for themselves on Halloween night at Bleepy Hollow, an event brought to you by TBD. Here, Slow Magic will join with synthwave wizard Com Truise along with local talents Adam J and Shaun Slaughter. On the one night out of the entire year in which the unknown comes into focus and imagination doubles in power, what better emissary than your imaginary friend Slow Magic to help guide you? We recently caught up with the man himself on all number of topics, including dream gigs, favorite albums growing up, and advice for budding musicians.
P.S.: If any of you trick-or-treaters planning on joining us at Bleepy Hollow still can’t decide what costume to pick, why not come as Slow Magic himself? I have it on pretty high authority that part of the festivities may include a look-alike contest, which comes with its own set of perks. So do your best, and come see how it measures up. Don’t be scared!
Are there any childhood memories that influenced your concept for Slow Magic?
Yes, a lot of the spirit of the project feels that way. I don’t know if it was a specific moment or memory, but a lot of that nostalgic feeling that the music I like gives me—youthfulness, the freedom that we only get when we’re young, when we don’t realize it.
You’ve had a strong musical background/upbringing in many different genres. Was there a particular influence that got you into electronic music?
It think it was a natural progression, because I’d been interested in making music from when I was young, but I think it came down to being in bands with friends, but being more of the crazy one about working on a project all the time, and devoting a lot of effort to it. I was pretty young when I realized I could use a computer to get more of the sound I wanted without bringing ten people into the same room. I think that solitude is the most convenient for me, but I also like playing off of other musicians or collaborating, especially now, through the Internet.
Was there a particular artist or record that opened your eyes to the possibilities of EDM?
Yeah. I’m not sure of the year, but there’s this Icelandic band, Múm. Their album, Finally We Are No-One—my older brother showed it to me and I remember listening to it over and over. It’s not a completely electronic album, but all the sounds to me were a mystery, like, “How did they create this sound?” It’s one of those albums that I’m still trying to figure out.
You’ve mentioned in earlier interviews that during the recording of your last album, you stopped listening to contemporary EDM to avoid outside influence. What other things inspire you?
I like all types of music, but at that time I remember a few records that I was listening to by rock bands—that might still be similar to the music I make—like Wild Nothing, or a lot of the Captured Tracks bands, more on the rock or dream-pop side of things. The feeling of that kind of music is what I was going for, still a very youthful, teen movie kind of feeling.
You’ll be in Sacramento on Oct. 31 with Com Truise for a live performance. If you were a guest at the Halloween party instead of the performer, who would you come as?
That’s a tough one, because I’m still deciding what I’m going to dress like as it is. I think I’m more excited to see how many people at the event can match my look. I think I may be able to blend in with the crowd, even …
That brings me to another question … As your public profile has been on the rise, in the music world, have fans and journalists been getting more aggressive about revealing your identity?
Not really. When I started the project, I was nervous about how it would all work with the anonymity, and I’ve found that people tend to understand what I’m going for, that it’s more exciting to keep the mystery alive.
What advice would you have for aspiring musicians who want to get involved in the genre?
It’s pretty simple. It’s easier to get started making music than it’s ever been. The one thing that’s still hard is getting the guts to try and put your stuff out there. My advice would be that everyone you look up to is someone that started with whatever they had available, whether it was software, instruments. It’s more about trying to do it and failing a bunch than being good from the get go.
There’s an overwhelmingly positive vibe to your music. Does this reflect your general life outlook?
I’d say I try to have a pretty positive outlook, even if things aren’t too great. I also think there’s the feeling that, if things aren’t going well, I don’t really feel like making a “down” song. It’s more exciting to write a song about being on the beach or in the sun, even if you’re stuck in a dark place.
You’ve been able to visit many places you said you’d never dreamed of performing in. Is there one place in particular that left a deep impression on you/got your creativity firing?
I think there’s a tie this year. Early this year I got to go to Japan—that was always a place I’d dreamed of going to, and thought I never could. It was amazing, the show was really fun. I got outside of Tokyo too, to see some more of country, which was cool. And the second one I just got back from—Iceland. I took a trip there, mostly to shoot some photos for something coming up … It was an otherworldly place that completely surpassed my expectations.
What’s the most exciting thing about music in 2015?
Everything! There’s so many people right now that are making amazing music, that are like, 15, and they could be from anywhere in the world. It’s easier to be discovered in music. Even with the technology being widely available now, it’s ultimately making things better, and letting people with true talent everywhere make it, you know?
If you could do a show anywhere, regardless of time or space, where would it be?
Off the top of my head, the first thing I can think of is going back to when shoegaze was really big, and playing with My Bloody Valentine. That would be really awesome. I mean, a lot of those shoegaze bands are still making amazing music, so it’s not too much of a stretch, but I wouldn’t care If I just got to watch them, I wouldn’t care If they even saw my set or anything [laughs].
Spend your Halloween night partying in Sacramento with Slow Magic and Com Truise live at The Hanger Studios (1425 C Street). Tickets are $35 and are on sale now. Go to Tbdfest.com.