With upcoming album Aloha Moon set for release on April 24, synth-wave duo Magic Wands will showcase new material of galactic proportions at this year’s South By Southwest. The Daily Texan talked with band member Dexy while she caught a cigarette break in scorching 100-degree L.A. heat.
The Daily Texan: Your sound is like an ’80s pop daydream; do you think this is an aesthetic that’s becoming topical in the indie-pop realm?
Dexy: I think since the ’80s, there have always been bands that have a little bit of an ’80s influence. It’s because a lot of music from the ’80s is so good, you have a lot of keyboards and electronic drum. It’s funny that you say that. I feel that we’re trying to get away from that sound on this record.
DT: Oh, really?
Dexy: A little bit, yeah. We recorded this album with a lot of synth and electronic drums. We went back in and redid it all with live drums and bass to give it a more organic and less electronic feel. But I do love ’80s music.
DT: What are your thoughts on the revival of analog synth-based music?
Dexy: I think analogs are great. I think keyboards and synths just add an extra emotion to the music that gives it a magical feeling. Straightforward rock is cool, but as soon as you put the keyboards in, that’s, to me, the heart of the song. And we’ve got a lot of synths and keyboards. When we’re recording, we’ve got anywhere from three to seven different keyboards going on in the background. When we recorded, we probably had about 50-60 vintage synths and keyboards in front of us and we just kind of went nuts.
DT: I read in an interview your musical influence comes from your subconscious and not any specific musical artist. What did you mean by that?
Dexy: I think a lot of our songs come from things we dream about or things we fantasize about, more like places. The whole “Aloha Moon” thing is about an island in outer space, so we wanted all the songs to have a non-reality sort of feel to them. It’s not super reality stuff; it’s kind of in the stars. It’s very fantasy.
DT: You’ve been moving around and recording in different places. Do you feel like being a nomad is essential to your creative process?
Dexy: I do. I think it’s really great. It wasn’t really intentional when we recorded in four different studios, but it was helpful because each place we went was a whole different experience and it really added to the songs. [The song] “Teenage Love” was originally recorded up north during the winter and we redid it out in the desert.
DT: How has Aloha Moon helped you progress as musicians?
Dexy: I think what made us progress is the fact that we brought in a live drummer and a bass player. Everything kind of expanded. We used to just be two guitars, a drum machine and a keyboard. We were thinking, when we got to the studio, that to make this record we were going to re-do our demos exactly as they were. We just decided to build on those ideas and add things. A lot of people are used to the simplicity of “Teenage Love” and what we have now has way more going on with it.
DT: You’ve been to SXSW before, how do you guys mentally prepare yourselves for the fest?
Dexy: That’s what I’m trying to do right now. I don’t think I ever have time. It’s always super crazy. These are the first rehearsals we’re having for the festival. Our drummer lives in San Francisco, but he just flew down. We’re just cramming everything in to these next 10 days. Maybe some mediation and some wine. It’s pretty crazy there in Austin.
DT: Any favorite props you’ll be bringing onstage to SXSW?
Dexy: We’re trying to think about that right now. We’ve had a lion, crazy tiger heads, lights. But I don’t know what we’re going to do for South By, maybe a sparkly backdrop or something. No lion though; the lion is retired. Now, he just kind of lives on my bed and chills out there. He sort of symbolizes a time period for us, when we did the whole tour for the Magic Love & Dreams EP, so now we need something more for Aloha Moon.