Welcome to BuzzMusic, Magazine Gap! We are absolutely in love with the latest single "Superficial". What was the songwriting and production process for it like? Thanks so much! We typically write and record a set of three-song at any one time, which each set having distinctions and similarities between them. We wrote ”Superficial” like we write many songs - firstly, recording ourselves jamming in rehearsals, then listening back and picking out cool standout ideas which we develop more specifically before putting a structure around a song. We then layer with additional keyboard and guitar ideas, then I spend a long time singing the track over and over to produce endless lyrics before cutting back to the best lines and shaping them to give the song meaning and cohesion. We aren't people who "wrote this in 15 mins"... Your sound is something that feels both familiar and unique at the same time, it's quite wonderful! Do you have any influences that inspire your sound? What about those influences inspire you? That is exactly what we've been aiming for, so really appreciate your comment! We want something that feels recognizable to some extent (we're not avant-garde!), but certainly within our own distinctive sound. Our influences run deep and differ considerably between the three of us, which is why the combination probably feels so unusual. I'm a singer-songwriter that loves folk-pop, soft-rock, funk, and blues, whereas Alex is a jazz-pop pianist who loves fusion, and Cookie is an R&B drummer and producer who loves hip-hop and soul. But there are no hard lines, and we crossover more than we might otherwise think - for instance, we're all into Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, John Mayer, etc. Wow, it's fantastic to hear you have toured all over! From the UK to the U.S.A. to the Far East, are there any highlights or interesting stories that you would be able to share with us? Our first ever show as Magazine Gap was at The Mint in Los Angeles. The reason is that I had been booked to play there off the back of my solo album, which Cookie produced and Alex had joined in subsequently to support the shows around that. With Alex, Cookie and myself playing together a new sound began to emerge that was far more than just singer/songwriter with a backing band, but an exciting new combined sound that had its own identity. We had therefore formed the band by the time of the West Hollywood show, so it was an opportunity to go to LA to record songs for our debut album (the day before we were in Capitol Studios recording on the other side of the partition to John Mayer), and that show began our first tour (which included New Orleans and Houston). The reaction from the audience that night is one we’ll never forget and gave us all the encouragement we needed. I even wrote a song about that night and other dates on the first two US tours called “Dancing In Quicksand” which is on the new album. Other highlights for us were getting a similar reaction in Chicago as Hong Kong, New York as Tokyo, Glasgow as Singapore, Montreux as Los Angeles. Hong Kong was interesting in that we flew in on the night of an escalating hurricane (worst storm in 13 years), so all transport was canceled once we caught the train to the center and so had to walk in the extreme wind and rain with all our gear to the hotel! We filmed a music video around town the next day ("Slipstream" which is one of our most popular songs), and you can see all the fallen trees and debris in the background! Tokyo was such a lovely gig, one of our favorites, but the first and only time we played in our socks! Glasgow was hilarious because it turned out to be Halloween and the Scots take it as seriously as the Americans, so we were performing to a room full of Skeletons and Sesame Street characters; great atmosphere though! The Montreux Jazz Festival was the main highlight - the day before (and after actually) it poured with rain, but we had a beautiful Friday night slot on the main stage overlooking Lake Geneva, with the sun setting through the first few numbers, and comfortingly the crowd quickly filled up to its capacity 2,000 people as more and more people stuck around to hear out our set. Everything came together for that concert! It's an exciting feeling to be putting out something like an album, it's definitely a lot of hard work. What was the recording process for it the album like? Was there anything "experimental" happening in the studio when looking for new sounds?
Absolutely. So, this album is actually a collection of songs written and recorded over a number of years. Therefore it really represents a journey for us as songs developed over time, and each time we went into the studio we would look to do something different. On some songs, there are brass duos and string quartets added to a lush production, on top of acoustic instruments, whereas on others it was stripped back to just the core band with a lot of space. With the last songs to be recorded, including "Superficial", we decided to go all-electric and electronic, with Alex using keyboards and samples (whereas as a classically trained concert pianist we are used to him tinkling the ivories on a Steinway or Bosendorfer!) and Cookie using his Roland electronic drums and sampling pad, which for us was definitely experimental. What hasn't changed is that everything is played live, so have never lost the authenticity of the musicianship and inflections of performance.
What can we expect to see from Magazine Gap throughout 2020?
We've just filmed our final music video for the new album (which is called "What's That About?"), so that will be coming out ahead of the album in the coming months. We will also be playing live again, which is one of our favorite things to do. It's going to be great when people hear all 12 songs as a collection, to see the whole picture of how we've crafted all the songs and how they fit together beautifully.
Check out "Superficial" here.