GIVING BIRTH TO HEROES
We couldn’t connect with Magic Giant at SXSW this year because of our conflicting schedules but the stars aligned for us at this year’s Firefly Music Festival. The multi-talented multi-instrumentalist trio from L.A. are all about good vibes, and the world is feeling it. Whether it’s their music, their energy, their live performance or their personality, the band has quickly attracted and amassed a large following. With the release of their debut album In The Wind back in May, Rolling Stone named them one of their 10 Artists You Need To Know.
Unfortunately I had to miss their set at Firefly, but was able to catch their show few days later at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. There certainly was “magic” in their high energy performance, which Highlark team member Alli can also attest to. She saw the band in Philly where a couple of concertgoers wearing Magic Giant tees caught her attention…
ALLI (HIGHLARK): Where’d you get your t-shirts?
HOLLY OSBORNE (FROM WILMINGTON, DE) AND WADE STEWART (FROM NEWARK, DE): We just bought them at the door right before the concert.
ALLI: Wow, so how long have you been fans?
HOLLY AND WADE: We’ve been fans for about three days. We just saw them at Firefly (for the first time),
HOLLY: It was the most electric performance at Firefly — you’ll see when they come on. We bought tickets to the Philly show before we even left Firefly.
WADE: We just bought their CD too — and we don’t even listen to CDs.
Holly and Wade went on tell Alli that the band’s banjo playing really hooked them and their favorite song from Firefly was the acoustic performance of “Great Divide.”
While Holly and Wade were becoming fans of the band, I sat down with the boys to talk about music, frequencies and a marriage proposal that took place during their set at Firefly.
MAGIC GIANT INTERVIEW
SONIC HIGHLARK: Most of you have experience producing for other artists, what is it like writing for Magic Giant as opposed to writing for others?
AUSTIN BISNOW (MAGIC GIANT // VOCALS, PERCUSSION, SYNTHS, ETC.): This process is very very collaborative. One of us would bring an idea but it becomes a new voice. So the 3 of us combine our voices to create this one new baby that is its own voice.
ZANG (MAGIC GIANT // BASS, GUITAR, PERCUSSION, ETC.): It’s almost like we’re creating our own hero. I wouldn’t be feeling what Zambricki is feeling. He brings his own voice. Then I might say “I think the sentiment should be like this, and this is how I feel.” and it all creates this hero that we can all look up to.
SONIC: It seems like you guys get along great, but are there times when one of you feels strongly about a part in a song or disagree with the direction?
ZAMBRICKI LI (MAGIC GIANT // VIOLIN, BANJO, LAP STEEL, FIDDLE, ETC.): It’s a safe place. I don’t think I would even bring songs if it wasn’t. I’ve been around other people that I didn’t even want to bring ideas because they don’t even understand that it’s only in its first incarnation. We’re never like “I don’t like that period, let’s go get a sandwich.” I try to replace an idea instead of just shutting it down. So I might say “Hey, what about this?” I think that the good stuff rises to the top, it always does and at that point we all know it and its not debatable.
AUSTIN: And that’s on us to make each other feel comfortable sharing ideas. That’s what a producer can do as well. If they do a good job they can bring the best in each other. One of Zang’s long list of talents is saying no. We really trust his instincts. We call him “veto.” So when he does say yes, it means a lot.
SONIC: How does that dynamic play into selecting songs for the album?
ZAMBRICKI: There are songs that we didn’t even record, and there were songs that we recorded that didn’t make the album. Not necessarily because we didn’t believe in them but because we can’t put 18 songs on an album anymore.
AUSTIN: We did have to cut some songs we liked.
ZANG: There were also songs that made the album that were in forms before that we felt wasn’t right. We rewrote some of those songs and now there are some of our strongest songs.
AUSTIN: “Great Divide” was one of those.
ZAMRICKI: Yeah, “Great Divide” and also “Eyes Wide.”
ZANG: “Eyes Wide” did have some haters.
ZAMBRICKI: But now it’s like boom! It’s up there now.
SONIC: So I heard a proposal took place during your set yesterday?
ZAMBRICKI: Yes! So the girl emailed us and the festival (Firefly) and asked if she could propose to her boyfriend at our show because they both connect so much with our music and it’s a big part of their relationship.
ZANG: We said yes but was thinking what part of the set and where we should do this. So we said let’s just throw her on the main stage.
AUSTIN: Yeah, we put her on the stage and it was great. She requested “Glass Hearts” specifically. It was a female proposing to the male, and so she said “We’re shattering the patriarchy!”
ZAMBRICKI: Smashing the patriarchy. She could have said shattering, it’s a powerful word all consonant sounds, sha-tter-ing.
AUSTIN: Then she dropped to one knee and yeah, he had no idea.
SONIC: I heard though that the guy bought the ring right, it was a red ruby or something?
AUSTIN: Hmmm, you know a backstory.
ZANG: Wow, I didn’t know this.
ZAMBRICKI: We’re not sure about that. No Comment. When asked about the ring, the band said “No Comment.”
SONIC: So I read somewhere that even when you guys are stressed out, playing live makes that go away. Can you tell me a little more about that?
ZANG: Totally. There have been moments when I am going crazy before a show because something went wrong or something happened and I’m all scatter minded and Austin asks me “Hey, I made the setlist what do you think of the setlist?” and I’ll say “Don’t talk to me right now, I’m focused.” But right as we’re about to go on stage it’s like “Haaaaa.”
AUSTIN: Or once we’re ON stage.
ZANG: Yeah, once we’re on. It’s so busy beforehand but once you play you kind of forget everything. You could have been tired, you could have been sick, it doesn’t matter.
AUSTIN: Especially at festivals because it’s much less control, the changeovers are quicker, no soundcheck, there are all these variables as opposed to when we play our own show.
ZAMBRICKI: But I feel like you can play through it. You can play through the pain, your jitters. You can play through the sweat. If you’re sweaty and you just keep sweating you’re eventually wet and then..
ZAMBRICKI AND ZANG: You’re cool!
AUSTIN: It’s nature’s way of cooling down.
SONIC: You all play many different instruments, but obviously you can’t play them at the same time. How do you choose which one to play at shows?
ZANG: In the studio it’s really nice because we have all these instruments at our disposal. On the road we kind of have to pick.
ZAMBRICKI: Yeah, we need to pick and choose our battles. I’m usually playing my trumpet lines on the violin half the time. For me violin is my favorite to play, especially in big festivals like this. It’s like having an opera singer. “Haaaaaaaa” (imitating opera singing), it really cuts through the mix.
ZANG: In a similar way I wish I can play bass for the whole show but I play guitar because we need the guitar. But I love the bass, I love the body of it.
AUSTIN: Yeah, and the bass is your instrument.
SONIC: You guys need to clone yourselves!
ZANG: We’ll get there. I mean science will get there.
AUSTIN: And we’ll be there when science gets there.
SONIC: I recently learned that you can be taught perfect pitch, what do you guys think of that?
ZAMBRICKI: I wouldn’t want perfect pitch. It’s an imperfect world. I already have a hard time hearing things out of tune and I have relative pitch. I mean I’d love to have perfect pitch 3 days a week but not when you can’t turn it off.
SONIC: Sometimes dissonance is on purpose.
ZAMBRICKI: I love it.
AUSTIN: Yeah it’s human. You can detune a keyboard and make it sound fatter because it’s not just one pitch, there are now two that are next to each other.
ZAMBRICKI: Reggae music too. 440 is what we consider standard pitch, but Bob Marley used something like 432 to give you that deeper tone.
[Frequency of 440Hz, sometimes referred to as A440 or A4 is the musical note of A above middle C and is considered the “pitch standard” when tuning a instrument]
ZANG: It’s not 440 but they say there is actually a frequency of the world. Pretty cool.
[8Hz or the ‘Schumann resonance’ is considered to be the fundamental “beat” of our planet and is the global electromagnetic resonance. The practice of tuning the A to 432Hz instead of 440Hz is derived from Schumann’s 8Hz which resonates with the frequency of 432Hz]
SONIC: There’s also the frequency that makes you shit! (A popular myth in pop culture but it has been debunked many times.. unfortunately.)
ZAMBRICKI: Never heard of that one.
AUSTIN: I wonder.
SONIC: What are guys up to for the rest of today and Firefly?
ZANG: We’ll be hanging out, watch some bands.
AUSTIN: Then we leave tonight for New York.
ZAMBRICKI: Yeah, heading to New York then few more shows for the tour.
SONIC: Oh nice, I’m from New York where are you guys playing?
AUSTIN: Bowery Ballroom.
SONIC: Bowery is a fun venue, I’ll be there! Well I think we are good, thank you guys!
ZANG: Thank you brother!
AUSTIN: Thank you so much man!
ZAMBRICKI: I like how all of your questions came from your head.
SONIC: Haha, thanks I’ll see you in New York!
[+] MAGIC GIANT