Hailing from the unlikely hometown of Red Deer, Alberta, Magik Spells have spun themselves a hypnotizing tapestry of shoegaze, indie rock, and funk.
Using a dazzling arsenal of effects and technical skill, the band is as experimental as they are danceable. After a set at the Cultch’s IGNITE! Festival, the band is touring to support their latest EP, Taking Up Space, and beginning to piece together their sophomore album. Influenced by fellow indie rockers and shoegaze music, the band delights in making sounds that have yet to be heard.
“You put on a couple pedals and it completely changes everything you’re doing. “ said Jacob “It’s almost like a new instrument.”
“What I like a lot about this band is that we can go off on any tangent we want. “ said Jacob. “If we want to make a pretty song, or if we feel like we want to make something mean and heavy, or something really bopping…”
“We’re not making music” he continued. “We’re making sounds.”
Lotusland met Jacob and Jason to chat about their hometown, the perils of driving across the Rockies in a 1976 Dodge Motorhome, and the wonders of delay.
Why don’t you introduce yourselves for the good people out there?
JS: I’m Jason and I’m part of Magik Spells.
JB: I’m Jacob, also part of Magik Spells!
So what’s going on with Magik Spells right now?
JS: We have a show on Friday!
JB: Tomorrow night!
JB: Yep, tomorrow night! Right on The Gam, on Hastings, a little art gallery. We’re playing with DJ Bret West. Should be nice and intimate.
JS: We’re good friends with that art gallery.
JB: Just got back from playing Kootenany festival. We had a headlining spot on Friday and then had a nice evening set going on later.
JS: It was so dope. Nice small festival, a few hundred people and two stages, and some seriously great vibes.
JB: And prior to all that, we just released a three track EP and went back to Alberta- where we’re from- and played in Red Deer and Calgary and had our EP released there.
JS: And then we went back through time. Time.
Sounds like a rockin good time. Prior to all that, you guys played at the Cultch’s IGNITE! Festival. How was that?
JB: Always fun!
Did you guys enjoy the Jukebox theme?
JB: Definitely! The jukebox theme made thing so much more fun. We always like to dress a little weird when we’re playing to help break the ice a little bit, so anytime that we can play something that has a theme and a chance to dress up it seems like everyone is a lot more laid back and loose. Makes for a very cool environment.
On your latest EP, Taking Up Space, and on previous works, you guys use a lot of effects and triggers in your music. What effects are band favourites?
JB: We have a lot of delay pedals.
JS: And we need more! We ne ne ne ne d d d d mo mo mo re re de lay lay lay lay…..
JB: Lots of delay.
JS: And the fuzz too. The sort of hard-hitting fuzzy stuff.
JB: Especially on the bass. You add a bit of fuzz and it really changes the sound.
JS: Makes it feel kinda electronica, ya know?
JB: Kinda electronica and dancey. More aggressive.
JS: The pitch stuff too. Like the octave pedal and the harmonizing pedal really work wonders.
JB: Octave generators especially make your guitar sound like it’s now not quite like a guitar. And you get some…
JS: Lasers! (Makes pew-pew sounds)
JB: Exactly. You get a lot of cool sounds from that that a lot of people don’t really expect.
When I think delay, I think the Edge of U2. Any influence there?
JS: Dude, why do you think of the Edge? Why do you do that to yourself? Laughter
The dude likes his delay.
JS: He uses so much delay that I can still hear it. It’s still repeating.
Okay, but is there any influence for your effects?
JB: Not so much from the Edge. Having only two guitars and bass, putting delay on a guitar fills up a lot of space. It’s almost like a reverb-y effect, but it’s easier to control so you can make yourself sound bigger. You can make one guitar sound like two, almost.
JS: It just takes up a ton of space.
JB: You also get that crazy psychedelic trance vibe from it, which seems to be quite captive.
JS: And when you only have bass and guitar and drums as the things that are being pronounced…. like we have keyboard too but it’s not as much in there right now, ya know? Delay just helps fill up a lot of room. And it trips you out.
You guys have been called funk, shoegaze, alt rock, you name it. Where do you place yourselves, if anywhere?
JS: I would place myself in outer space, personally. Or on a rainbow. That’d be sweet.
JB: We’ve been telling people, if they ask, with “indie dancerock”. I don’t know if that’s accurate.
JS: We like everything, which is why it’s hard to say! What I like a lot about this band is that we can go off on any tangent we want. If we want to make a pretty song, or if we feel like we want to make something mean and heavy, or something really bopping…
JB: Or something really funky…
JS: And when we can do all that, why would we limit it? Express yourself!
JB: It’s not like we try to limit it to any genre or try to do anything like that. We just go with it.
JS: We’re not making music, we’re making sound!
JB: Vibrations, motions, things like that.
You guys hail from Red Deer, Alberta. What’s it like in contrast to Vancouver, and do you guys still visit or play shows around there?
JB: Playing shows in Red Deer is the best, because it’s a small town and there’s not a lot going on there. So when a show is happening a lot of people come out, because they’re excited since not a whole lot of bands travel through Red Deer, so if you can get your word out, and since we know people there and can do that through the grapevine, we make a lot of money there. That’s for sure.
JS: And then there’s the place we play.
JB: The place we play there is called the Vat, and it’s one of the best venues I’ve ever played in, for sure.
How’d you guys discover the Vat?
JB: Growing up, it was kinda the talk of the town as “THE” music venue.
JS: We would just meet up with people there.
JB: It’s just the place to be if you’re into bands and music. It’s kinda the only place of it’s kind in Red Deer.
JS: It is the only place, because Red Deer’s just a small town- really sweet, but not a whole lot going on.
Shout out to the Vat. You guys are definitely in vein of shoegaze, and you’re compared to it a lot at shows.-
JS: Who what where what? Who’s compared to shoegaze? We are? I mean, I love shoegaze, but…
JB: A lot of people are comparing us to shoegaze. To me, I do feel sometimes like I’m playing the pedals a bit more than I’m playing the guitar.
JS: It’s probably not just the melody we’re creating, but also the texture of what we’re making with the effects. And even with the notes, it’s just the texture that adds something, and that’s what shoegaze really does.
JB: You put on a couple pedals and it completely changes everything you’re doing. It’s almost like a new instrument. Almost every time we get a new modulator pedal or something like that, it’s almost like having a new instrument to choose from. We definetly look to our pedal board for awesome tunes.
JS: And it’s all in the fingers too. You can make a plain guitar do some crazy shit.
A lot of bands go through a lot of good names before they settle on one they like. What is the worst name you’ve ever played under before Magik Spells?
JB: I was in a band called “Second Day of Spring”. Wasn’t the biggest fan of that. I mean, it wasn’t this band, but…
JS: Yeah, with this band, I think we just…
JB: I think we tried to come up with some names.
JS: But the first show we played, we were Magik Spells.
JB: Definitely our original name.
JS: I have a lot of old bad band names. “Times New Roman.” That was pretty bad. “Graduate and you Keep the Computer”, which is kinda good but also kind of bad. If you ever saw the infomercial it would make sense.
You guys obviously enjoy touring. Any favorite touring stories?
JB: Oh man. We bought this 1976 Dodge motorhome, and we were going on tour and fixing it up before we went on tour, we named it Gloria.
JS: Cost $500.
JB: So yeah. It’s a 1976 motorhome. And driving that across the Rockies for the first time was definitely quite the experience. Since it’s a motorhome, you can hang out and drink booze in the back, and we would be driving all night and just chilling and playing cards in the back, Sometimes we could only do like 25 miles an hour, so it took forever. Had some close encounters with crashing, a little bit of snowstorm action…
JS: Our windshield wipers didn’t work once when it was snowing and we were just like “AHHHHHH!” and everyone was just screaming. With no clue of what to do.
Nothing good ever happens with a 1976 motor home.
JS: It was the good and the bad! You gotta take the good with the bad.
JB: There was one point where it took us three and a half hours to get from Calgary to Red Deer, which should only take like an hour and a half. It was such a bad snowstorm that our windshield wipers stopped working and popped out of their clips, so we were like “What the hell do we do?” So we called Jason’s dad and he said we could tie it down with some wire or something, which we didn’t have, so he told us to just “rip some wire out of the motorhome where you don’t need it”! So we ended up ripping out wire from the roof of the motorhome to fix the damn windshield wipers.
So, what’s next?
JS: We always try to stay as busy as possible, playing as many shows as we can.
JB: We’re currently writing material for a new album to be released sometime in the fall. We’re going on tour again to the interior of the BC in August, we definitely have dates for Banff in mid-August. Just trying to play as many shows as we can before the summer.
JS: A music video would be good too.
JB: We actually just recorded our last five shows, so we have a lot of footage.
JS: We might just put it all together and make ourselves a video. That’s be sweet.
Find Magik Spells in Calgary on July 27 @ The Palomino!