21 Jan 2016

THE MAGIC GANG AND THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS

Brighton’s quirkiest new four-piece the Magic Gang are finally breaking onto the indie scene after months lying low, releasing sultry singles and playing small but riotous shows up and down the country. Now, with an EP in the shops and a headline tour on the horizon, 2016 looks set to be their year. We had a chat with frontman Jack Kaye about Derren Brown, the secret to happiness and the highs and lows of being in one of the UK’s most exciting new bands.
First off, I was very impressed when I saw you support Wolf Alice last spring. What was it like performing alongside those guys?
Thanks! It was a lot of fun to play those shows. It's always more enjoyable when you're playing to an energetic crowd and all of the Wolf Alice audiences were like that which definitely made it a great tour. 

Do you prefer playing headline shows or support slots, and what’s your all time favourite show you’ve ever played?
It's difficult to choose one because they both have their positives. When we play our own headline shows we play for longer which means we can play a wider variation of songs, but supporting other bands means we play to a whole new audience which is exciting. We did a show at Boston Music Rooms in London not long ago, which was one of my favourites for sure. 

I find your songs are very distinguishable from other bands that are breaking onto the scene alongside you. Is this something you’ve done intentionally? 
That's nice of you to say. It's never really our main priority to write anything that's completely different to everything else around, for us it's more about writing songs that we could imagine ourselves listening to and enjoying. 

Has it helped you to be from such an encouraging area, or is there a lot of competition?
It's definitely been encouraging. We live in a house with a group of people who are constantly writing and playing music which really spurs you on to keep doing it yourself. It keeps you on your toes when you hear a huge guitar riff coming from next door!

Are there any things you do as a band that inspire you, besides music?
There are loads of small theatres in Brighton so it's nice to be able to go and watch stuff there. We've never done that as a four but we did have a poetry night a couple of days ago where we gathered around a screen and read Simon Armitage to each other.

Which bands/musicians would people be surprised to find out you listen to? What are your all-time favourite albums?
Kristian loves reggae, which some people might find surprising I suppose. Album wise we like Abbey Road, [Stevie Wonder’s] Songs in the Key of Life, Aja by Steely Dan, Balkans and Avi Buffalo’s self-titled albums and of course What’s the Story Morning Glory?

Your new EP has been described as “making difficult subjects sound blissfully simple”. On that note, what is the true meaning of happiness?
We'll let you know when we find out.

What are the Magic Gang’s favourite magic tricks?
We don't really know any but I tell you what, we watched a Derren Brown show the other night where he tried to make someone push a man off a roof and it was the best thing I’ve ever seen on TV.

As a new band, have you noticed any frustrations or limitations financially?
Of course budgeting is always stressful. We've only toured in the UK so far so I'm sure the worst is yet to come in terms of the financial struggle. Generally it comes down to just balancing things out with merch.

What are your opinions on the on-going Spotify/streaming royalties debate? 
It seems like it would make a huge difference for independent artists if all of their plays were accounted for and it's a shame that not everybody can see that. I don't have an in-depth knowledge of how it all works but on a base level it only seems fair that artists should see some of the money that their music is bringing in.

If you could collaborate with any musician, alive or dead, who would you choose?
We'd love to get in the booth with Brian Wilson circa ‘66 on the buttons.

Tell me about Telharmonium Records.
It's a label set up by Mike "Money Mike" Watson who is our manager. We put out our EP on the label, which was cool because it gave us a chance to retain some sense of control, even in just knowing what's going on with the release day-to-day. I'm sure there'll be a lot more to hear from them in future so keep an ear out.

What are your thoughts on a large portion of your fan base being under 18s?
It's not something we've overly thought about but it does mean that we work hard to make sure that as many of our shows as possible are at all-ages venues. It's frustrating to know that some people who want to attend the shows aren't allowed to.

Similarly, how important do you think social media is when it comes to promoting your music?
For a band at our stage it can be vital, especially when it comes to promoting shows, which we've now learnt.

Finally, is there an album in the works, and when can we expect to hear more from the Magic Gang?
The plan is to do a few more releases before we start work on the album. As far as writing goes, I'm sure there is a lot of material we've finished that will make it onto an album when the time comes.

(Words: Alex Cabré)