Interview With Slow Magic | Only The Beat
Only The Beat had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with one of the most forward thinking and intriguing artists at this years Capitol Hill Block Party, Slow Magic. Not much is known about this elusive artist who claims to be everyone’s imaginary friend, so we thought it would be a good idea to find out more from him in person. Here is a little back story on our friend Slow Magic.
A DIY project with worldwide scope, Slow Magic is universal and inclusive. It’s cosmic electronic music culled from the ether, yet crafted with human hands. It’s joyous, escapist, multi-disciplinary art that mixes transcendent performance with the nostalgic intimacy of two teenagers staying up too late on the phone.
After the release of 2012’s beloved and critically-acclaimed Triangle, Slow Magic became an international movement after touring with artists like Gold Panda and XXYYXX. Crowds found a masked man in their midst, bathed in fantastic light, with electronic triggers and a drum. The future-primitive combination infused the project’s electronic compositions with new life.
How To Run Away, Slow Magic’s debut with Downtown Records, reflects this growth, oozing both otherworldly beauty and a mastery of production. Lead single “Girls” is deconstructionist house with an organic pulse and collaged, handcrafted samples. “Hold Still” sculpts elastic organs and jazz piano into an emotionally-pummeling finale, while the melancholy “Let U Go” merges watery dub with spectral piano and “Closer” plays like a ’90s R&B fever dream.
Slow Magic is music by your imaginary friend.
Below you will find our full interview with Slow Magic. Thank you to everyone who helped set up the interview and thank you most of all to Slow Magic for taking the time to sit down with us. Hannah King and I are extremely thankful for the opportunity. We hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did.
Behind The Beat | Slow Magic
OTB: With such an interesting mask and style and the fact that you keep such an anonymous approach to who you are, what do you feel that adds to the experience of your music and live sets and what are you trying to accomplish with it?
Slow Magic: It all started as a way for me to separate the music and the artwork that I was working on from my identity and my location. Over time it turned into something else, but there are a lot of benefits to it and challenges as well. It is fun for me to keep going and letting it be something that people have questions about.
OTB: In the past you have said that your motivation behind the character of Slow Magic was to create an imaginary friend for those listening and watching you perform. Why an imaginary friend? What brought the inspiration for that and how does it affect and inspire your music as a whole?
Slow Magic: I think it’s cool to think of music as coming from somewhere else like an imaginary friend, which is something that you create yourself. I wanted people to feel like they were a part of the music or as if it came from somewhere they could relate to. The idea of the imaginary place and animal really just came into its own as it developed, and people have responded well to it.
OTB: With such a strong background in drumming, what is the process of creation for you? Does the drums dictate the creation of the music or is it more organic with how you create such intricate soundscapes?
Slow Magic: It all depends, although I do focus a lot on the beat and percussion. Often times I will start with a piano or chords. Both piano and drums I really figured out from an early age and learned how they worked by often times just playing around with them. Sometimes I have an idea or I start with the lyrics and it comes together.
OTB: When I spoke with RAC recently he spoke to how he often times has to direct his music to his live shows as he performs with a band often. Do you ever create a song and feel as though you have to adapt it to your live set because of how you perform with live drums at your show or do you just go with it and figure out a way to make it work?
Slow Magic: I can relate to that a little bit. I make a lot of songs and won’t always think about how they will be live. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t and then I really just get up there and see what happens with it. I always see what I can add to it live, but the drums really just add something on top and a song can really adapt to the stage and the live set up and speak in new ways.
OTB: What are your plans for your live show in the future? You have been growing and gaining quite a lot of traction recently with your latest releases and the album coming later this year. Any plans to grow your show and change your stage set up or will you keep it true to your roots?
Slow Magic: I have a lot of plans for the future with the stage set up and everything. I have some ideas as to what it will be and I have had the ideas of having a band be involved, but I want to make sure I change things at the right speed and pace as to not change the image too quickly. Definitely with the upcoming US Tour there will be new things with the stage set up that people can look forward to in September and October.
OTB: You have an album coming out September 9th titled “How To Run Away.” What can you tell us about that?
Slow Magic: It is a lot of things I have been working on for a long time. Some things you have heard and I have played live and some things you have never heard before. I am extremely excited to release it. We had been looking for a good home for a while now and finally found a good label. I am really excited and I hope it’s worth the wait. I have been eager to let people hear it for a while now.
OTB: Often times artists “rebel” against the currently established way of doing things and often times draws from past styles or influences. How do you see yourself pushing the boundaries with your music?
Slow Magic: I think everything, even electronic music, has a lot of history to it as well as future and present. I have been influenced by things that have happened a long time ago and recently. Funk, jazz, and music from the 70’s have been an inspiration. Jazz in particular has inspired the percussion and the piano in my tracks. It was taught to me in school and has really stuck with me throughout everything.
OTB: What do you like with the currently state of electronic music and what do you not like? How do you want to differentiate yourself from everything?
Slow Magic: I think there is a balance between that. When I was making the record I tried to not listen to too much electronic music so that I did not copy it. Now that it has been finished however I have been listening to some of the newer electronic music and I have really been liking some of the busier intricate beats like Cashmere Cat. I think there are a lot of things that are influencing me with modern electronic music as well, I just don’t want to be a part of only one genre, and I don’t think anyone really does. It really is good for you to think about the sound you want to make. Maybe it fits somewhere, maybe it doesn’t. As long as you work hard on it, hopefully people will like it.
OTB: What would you call your sound? It really is hard to pinpoint where it would fall, but isn’t that kind of the point?
Slow Magic: I don’t know what exactly I would call it. I think some people out there have done a good job. It’s hard for me because I feel like you often times need someone else to tell you what it sounds like, but I think that is kind of the point. It is exactly what you hear and music itself is hard to explain.
OTB: Since you are an imaginary friend, what real world artist would you dream of collaborating and working with in the future?
Slow Magic: I am really excited to tour with Kodak To Graph. I feel like a show can be a collaboration just trying to make a night very exciting. There are some that I have always wanted to work with like Brian Wilson or The Beach Boys. I really like Shy Girls as well. I think there are a lot of vocalists I would like to work with. And maybe I will never get to work with the big ones like James Blake, but I would really like to someday.
OTB: With your performance at the Capitol Hill Block Party later today, do you really plan out your sets or do you just go with it and let the music speak as you perform?
Slow Magic: I don’t really have a set list ever. I just have an idea of what I might want to start with and then just feel it out and go where it wants to go. I always to try improve on a drum or do something that excites me because it is fun to not always play the same thing every night as well as it keeps me excited and confused about what’s going on.
OTB: It’s really cool to hear an artist say they don’t have a set list planned out. Thinking on your toes; that’s talent.
Slow Magic: Thanks! It’s awesome because it is just me up there and obviously with a band you have to be on the same page, so that’s one of the benefits from having just one person.
OTB: Do you ever feel like it’s hard to hold a presence as just yourself in front of a large crowd?
Slow Magic: Yeah it can be difficult just being the only one that is doing the whole show but when it does work out it is definitely nice to be able to hold the show by yourself.
OTB: What’s the motivation to take your drums down off the stage and into the crowd? I assume that’s an “in the moment” experience that allows you to feel the crowd and interact with them more. What started you doing that because there are very few artists who interact with a crowd on such an intimate and personal level?
Slow Magic: I think there is a separation between crowd and band. I think sometimes there is even a bigger wall in electronic music between a DJ and a crowd. I just liked the idea of breaking that down a little bit. I also think it is still surprising to people when it happens, so it’s fun to do something that people may not expect and haven’t seen before. Sometimes I will play on a taller stage and there’s a barricade and I still try and make sure I can do that even if some of the security guards aren’t too happy about it.
Thank you again to everyone who made this interview possible. Thank you from everyone at the OTB Family to Slow Magic for taking the time to do the interview.
~ It’s more than music ~
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