Interview of Young Magic by Gina Tron
Young Magic Photographed by Landon Speers
Young Magic is Emmanuel Issac and Melati Malay. Emmanuel is originally from Australia and Melati from Indonesia. The band formed in Brooklyn, NY as Isaac’s solo project but turned into the melodic band it is now when he joined up with Melati in 2010. The New York Times praised their last album as “lush and immersive.”
What inspired the name of your new album, Breathing Statues?
We liked the idea of a breathing statue, breathing new life into the inanimate. It might sound morbid but it’s meant to have a kind of hope. Ultimately the title is about subtly in experience and about finding beauty in loss.
Is it more subtle than Melt [their first album] ?
We had a feeling of being completely removed from this world because we were upstate (New York). At least we were removed in the sense of feeding any desire for lyrics or themes that slapped you in the face. I feel a lot of people go through these crazy periods in their life but there’s a way that you can deal with those things, whether you’re painting or writing a book or making music, that is a little more understated.
Make it more universal?
We wanted to make something that didn’t sound like it came from one place. And something that would fully reveal itself in due time. My favorite albums or books are ones that kind of grow over an extended period revealing things that are less immediate. Of course when I was much younger I appreciated the immediate in all forms, that bombastic quality. I didn’t really understand the subtle moves. I thought that if the ideas were understated, I’d missed it, that there wasn’t really much too it.
Do you and Melati’s lifestyles and personalities reflect this? Do you live subtly?
I think that particularly making this record upstate was a noticeable change in the way we usually do things. What started as being ‘in the middle of nowhere’ turned into being not removed from the world at all but closer to it. Things that we’d maybe looked over in the past had suddenly became important to us. Instead of a few big clear strokes, we focused more on lots of little gestures.
Tell me about how you recorded Breathing Statues? You were in lots of different places?
We recorded in Morocco and Paris… We were actively trying to find new places where we could record, places that had different feelings to take us out of our daily routine.
Were you always a musician?
No. I went to art college. In high school and college I predominately painted or made installations. I started making music a lot more toward the end of college. Before that, my focus was on visual arts.
Young Magic photographed by Harrison Thane
How did the band form?
I met Melati through a friend in New York and we just started to write. She had a solo project and I really liked her voice. We’d started to write together, naturally. Some of those very first songs are on the first album. We really enjoyed the process.
What in Breathing Statues in different than Melt?
I think this album was more supportive to Melati’s overall vision, instead of the last one where we had so many different ideas coming in from different corners. A lot of the songs from this new album are really personal to her.
What can people expect from your shows?
I like when people do whatever they feel like at our shows. I think the nature of a venue is a strange one. There’s a security guy at the door and you’re not supposed do this or that. It’s an odd way to experience music, almost a little cold. I would hope that when we play live, it somehow remove’s people from this. Even if it’s just for a moment, a moment where you aren’t thinking of all the other rules. That’s very easily said. Not so easily done!
Name a weird experience the band has had.
This happened a long time ago. We were living in Mexico at the time. Myself, Melati, and a few friends were house-sitting while finishing the first album. We were walking through the jungle which was an indirect way into town. It took about an hour to hike and we were really way off the beaten path. After walking down this track in the middle of nowhere we come across a bunch of policemen with machine guns who were standing around a plain clothes guy. It was really weird, but there was a definite moment there where I thought , “Oh shit , this is it!” We walked on pretending not to have noticed and they chased us with guns. Thankfully they decided to let us go.
Can you give a hint of what you will be creating in the future?
We’re pretty involved in how we can make the songs off the last two records grow in a live context at the moment. I think touring helps us figure out what we are going to do next time because when you are repeating something, you feel a desire to constantly be giving it new life. You have a desire to make new music that you would really enjoy playing over and over.
Young Magic Photographed by Landon Speers
Young Magic’s new album Breathing Statues is available now on Carpark Records.