Artist Interview – Magic Giant

Magic Giant, an on-the-rise alternative folk trio, came through Columbus recently, and although I wasn’t able to make it, I’ve been told that the show was absolutely nuts. Fortunately, though, I got the chance to send the band a few questions via email. In case you don’t know who Magic Giant is or about their latest album, “In The Wind”, check these out for more information on shows, the band’s motto, and more.

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If you had to describe the color blue to a blind person using only three words, what would they be?

Calm/Hopeful/Excitement. Blue is something you feel after something exciting happens like when you’re still buzzing from an experience, before the melancholy of daily life sets back in.

I hear that this project came to be as a result of salsa dancing. Can you elaborate on that?

Austin and I (Zambricki) were already friends when we found Zang. We saw him playing on stage with a mutual friend, looked him up and found videos of him dancing salsa. We were mystified! I had been doing more folk music and Austin had doing pop so we were totally impressed by the different style and vibe Zang.

How’s the tour going? I know it’s just started.

It’s been so amazing. Our first album just came out and it really has affected the shows. People know all the words and are singing along. You can tell people are connecting with the lyrics because they not only know the chorus but the verses and even the bridge!!

Speaking of the tour, can you tell me about your live shows? They’ve been described as “communal live experiences”!

There is almost a carnival atmosphere at shows. Expect lots of hugs and smiles and really kind people dancing their butts off! There are parts of the show which have big drums and deep grooves. We’ve been experimenting with sounds and doing improvisational jams. Some nights we’ll also come in the crowd and go completely acoustic for a few songs. It’s great to be able to look everyone in the eye and have that shared experience.

You guys have a lot of buzz for a relatively new band. Are you surprised by that?

A lot of these cities we are playing for the first time. We just did our first national TV appearance [The Today Show].

Being called one of Rolling Stones top artists to watch is pretty surreal. We’re getting to play a bunch of radio shows along the way and it’s really cool to see how it all works. We want to be present in the moment every day whether it’s an intimate show in a brand new town with some hardcore fans or a huge festival.

What on Earth is the “solar-powered mobile recording studio” that In The Wind was recorded in? Your website says that it allowed you to record anywhere and everywhere – how did that affect the album’s sound?

It was fate. We had a summer of festivals in the most picturesque places around the country. We bought a turbo diesel shuttle bus and added solar panels and tricked it out to record. Instead of booking other shows in between the festivals, we decided to schedule time in nature to record. Powder Mountain, Utah has a Hidden Lake where we recorded guitar on the song Jade. We also ended up writing an important part of the song there. While in Crested Butte, Colorado, we found an epic wildflower field like something out of the Sound Of Music and we got some really compelling vocals there. In Washington state, there’s a 3-mile tunnel through a mountain in the Snoqualmie Pass and we got some great echoes and reverbs that we sprinkled around the album. We drove the long way from Seattle and found a redwood tree in Humboldt, California that was the size of a recording studio with the perfect reverb.

All three of you play a variety of (interesting) instruments. How does that affect the band’s dynamic?

It makes the studio a party! We have a wide palette to choose from and we don’t have any rules. You can hear violin and synthesizers, string instruments like a banjo, viola, and cello. Harmonica, dobro, lap steel. We experimented with unique percussion instruments like tea cups, bells, and found a way to make drum sounds with things we found in the kitchen. We captured some nature and city sounds that we turned into loops and used in sections of songs. We had some amazing trumpet players on the record as well, like Spencer Ludwig and Rashawn Ross of Dave Matthews Band!

Your social media is pretty packed with a lot of fan interaction and positivity. Can you talk about how that relates to your band’s motto of “You don’t have to be big to be a giant”?

Everyone has quirks and things about their personality which make them who they are. People tend to hide those characteristics to be accepted or fit in, though we think those are the things that need to be turned up!!!

If we can inspire some people to be themselves and embrace their quirks, then we feel like we’re on the right track. It’s what our song “Celebrate The Reckless” is all about!!

This is your first album that was not self-produced. How do you think that affected your sound?

It helped us get our wild road recording in a lane that allowed us to finish the record. He (Ben Allen III) wasn’t there when we recorded and arranged a lot of the songs so when we brought it in he had a really a fresh perspective. It also helped for us to stay put for a few weeks! We lived in Atlanta for 3 weeks, shared a little bungalow and rode our bikes to the studio every day, so our productivity was definitely elevated.

Finally, what are you most excited about for this tour?

We are so excited for Arroyo Seco which is a first year festival in California. Getting to be on the bill with bands like Alabama Shakes, Tom Petty, and Mumford & Sons is really a dream come true. We partnered with an organization called One Tree Planted and for every album bought on this tour we are planting a tree in Colorado. We know we can’t change the world overnight, but we truly believe in small meaningful things we can do to create a little ripple of positive impact.

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