Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
Being stranded in a foreign land, filming a video in a place you once had to flee, venturing into unfamiliar musical territories – these are things that could make any artist uncomfortable. A comfort zone, however, is the last place you’ll find Young Magic.
“We kind of enjoy being completely out of our comfort zones,” Young Magic producer Isaac Emmanuel explains, “even those kind of crazy moments that you have when you’re traveling, when you’re lost in a country without language, or money, and completely stuck, or (when) everything’s going really well, there’s beauty in all of those experiences.”
Emmanuel, who is Australian, and his musical partner, Indonesian vocalist Melati Malay, look to translate that beauty into their unique brand of experimental, and ethereal, electronic music. The group once had a third member, Michael Italia, but due to Visa issues, which Emmanuel describes as “a bureaucratic nightmare,” he’s currently not with the group.
When the trio originally met they were all working on solo projects. Emmanuel remembers, “We kind of all landed in New York around the same time, and we were all living together in this space. We were showing each other everything we’d been doing, and it all seemed to come from a really similar place, so we started piecing it all together, and we started recording together.”
Those early Young Magic recording sessions, which occurred in 2010, featured, according to Emmanuel, “a lot of playing around, and manipulating sounds, and trying new things that a lot of us hadn’t done before, and just going out on a limb from what we were all usually comfortable with.”
While all three were going out on a limb, they also found they had some common ground, as Emmanuel notes, “We’d all spent some time over the months before we’d gotten together just traveling with not a lot of money, traveling through a lot of different countries, and seeing new places, and absorbing those experiences.”
Not everyone’s travel experiences were the same, however. Emmanuel, for instance, spent some time in Acapulco that didn’t go exactly as planned. He was there to house sit for a friend one Christmas, but while he was in the area he says, “There were ten or 12 people beheaded on the beach there, and a car lit on fire. I remember getting emails from friends and family advocating that I get the hell out of there as soon as possible.”
Emmanuel left, but he and Malay returned to Mexico in April of this year to shoot the video for their song “Fall In.” The duo were there for Festival NRMAL in Monterrey, which is North of Acapulco, and Emmanuel admits that when it comes to the part of the country where people were being beheaded the last time he was there, “We just, kind of, I guess, tried to stay out of that region.”
“Fall In” is off of Young Magic’s recently released album, Breathing Statues. It’s an album Emmanuel describes as being about “a subtle experience, and ultimately loss.”
Although loss can be a depressing subject matter, Emmanuel says the album is by no means a morose project. “Ultimately I think everything that happens is something that everyone has to go through,” he explains, “I think there’s beauty in things that are very very sad, and very hard, and there’s beauty in things that are also wonderful, and otherworldly, as well. We were exploring things that were across that whole spectrum, and see them all as equal.”
The album was written and recorded all over the world, including during stops the twosome made in Morocco, France, the Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland, and their home studio in New York City. According to Emmanuel, this had a distinct affect on the sound of the album, as he says, “Part of the reason we enjoy recording in-between tours in different places is that we’re interested in this idea of music that doesn’t seem like it comes from one specific place.” He adds, “We’re kind of actively looking for sounds that are interesting to us, and manipulating sounds that seem like they more come from everywhere at once.”
With Breathing Statues, Young Magic has crafted something they feel is sonically universal, and although Emmanuel admits that performing something personal about loss can sometimes be a bit tough, he says, “It’s been really helpful, and kind of an enlightening process for us. I guess, again, ultimately that’s kind of the reason we do this stuff, as a kind of release.”
Performing something personal as a way of creating an emotional release is yet another example of Young Magic’s continued theme of finding comfort in the uncomfortable. This makes their name incredibly appropriate, as many would consider such an ability not simply a skill, but a form of magic.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.