Contemporary electronic music is obsessed
with the larger-than-life DJ. In Las Vegas, superstar names like Skrillex, Deadmau5 and will.i.am make upward of $250,000 a night based on their reputation alone. That makes the anonymity of Slow Magic, a one-person electronic outfit (a frontman in a colorful handmade animal mask and tasseled zebra-stripe tunic) so refreshing. Though the man behind Slow Magic has successfully kept his identity hidden for two years, describing the project as "music by your imaginary friend," he talked openly with Folio Weekly about marrying the organic and the synthetic, traveling for inspiration and, yes, even getting lonely on stage.
Folio Weekly: Your identity has been secret since Slow Magic started in 2012. What's the reason for that decision?
Slow Magic: It's simple: I've been doing that from the start so that the project is about the music being at the forefront.
F.W.: You came to St. Augustine last year opening for El Ten Eleven. Was the show so good it convinced you to come back?
S.M.: Yeah, it's a really nice city and I definitely had a good time. So I'm excited to come back. It'll be nice to be there when it seems like it's cold everywhere else, too.
F.W.: Has the evolution from opening for bigger bands to headlining your own tours felt natural for you?
S.M.: It's been about two years since I started touring with Slow Magic, which was only a few months after I started the project. So it's been steady — but it also seems quick to me. I've been making music my whole life under different projects and names, and this is the first time I've gotten to travel and have this much fun.
F.W.: Was it challenging to translate Slow Magic's first album, "∆," which was recorded before you toured, to the stage?
S.M.: That was a natural process, too. And it actually took a few accidents to add elements like live drumming and going out into the crowd with the drum. I think it's a lot different than the record. And it's been really cool working on a new record, to play some of those songs live and see how they work differently than I expected.
F.W.: That live drumming represents an intriguing bridge between the digital and organic elements of your music. Was that a goal from the beginning?
S.M.: That's a good way to put it, because I really want my music to have that mix of the organic and electronic elements. When I'm recording, I like to play as many instruments and record as many things live as I can. Onstage, it's also important for me to have something tangible.
F.W.: Are most of your beats built with
S.M.: I'm really drawn to music that intrigues me because I'm not sure exactly how it was made. That's my favorite way to discover the wonder of music. So I've used a few samples from various sources, but for the most part
I try to create all my own samples, voices and things like that. I've had a few friends sing
on a few songs, but for the new record I'm trying to have every song contain 100 percent of my recordings.
F.W.: Is it fulfilling to lead such a fiercely independent career?
S.M.: I do work with different people as far as touring and labels go, so the overall project is a team effort. But it's definitely nice to have creative freedom. It also sometimes gets lonely on stage — I do miss being in a band and playing off of other people.
F.W.: Your music has such an atmospheric, almost corporeal vibe to it. Has the touring you've done over the last few years affected your creativity?
S.M.: I think travel is one of the best ways to inspire the music I'm making. Iceland was one of the most beautiful countries I've ever been — a really inspiring landscape but also an inspiring music community that's smaller, with everyone making amazing music and everyone trying to help each other out. Other places like Italy, France and Sweden were really cool.
I find a lot of inspiration going to places that I would have never expected to like. o