Young Magic comes from nowhere and everywhere
If music inevitably reflects the circumstances in which it was created, it’s no wonder that Young Magic’s songs feel simultaneously foreign and familiar. The trio’s debut album, Melt, was stitched together from recordings made in Mexico City, Berlin, Rome, Buenos Aires, and elsewhere. Young Magic’s members—Australians Isaac Emmanuel and Michael Italia and Indonesian-born Melati Malay—are based in Brooklyn for the time being, but they share an unshakable wanderlust.
Reached at a rest stop just outside Minneapolis, Emmanuel recalls how the band’s peripatetic members crossed paths. “I met Melati in New York when I was just travelling, visiting,” he says. “And then she came out for a trip to Australia, and it was a really nice summer; we just started working on some material together. Fast-forward about six months: I came back over to New York and we really liked the stuff that was happening and decided to make it into a project. Michael was an old friend from Melbourne. He was doing a similar thing; he was travelling through South America and up through Europe for a little bit, so I convinced him to come out of the jungle in Brazil and come up and meet us in New York.”
Together, the three put together Melt. While its echo-canyon reverb and swirling vocal harmonies give it the gauzy ambiance of fever-dream indie pop, it also bears traces of its creators’ travels. “Sanctuary” sounds like a shoegazing raga, for instance, while “Slip Time” marries gamelan percussion to dance-of-the-droids electro buzz.
“A lot of it came together just from little bits and pieces recorded everywhere,” Emmanuel says, “and we all had little portable recording setups, I guess, so wherever we happened to be, we would record on people’s couches or hotel rooms or wherever we ended up. It was only when we finally got back to New York that we finally sat down with all these little sketches and ideas, and it started to come together as more of a whole piece, and an album. We sifted through everything, listened to what each of us had been making, and put it all together. It was like a big collage.”
Emmanuel agrees that what Young Magic ended up with is a collection of songs that sound as if they came from nowhere and everywhere at once. And that, he says, is what gave the record its title.
“We were definitely thinking about all these influences literally bleeding and melting together and it not being this separate thing anymore, where we have this sound over here and we have this sound over here, and we have these ideas over there and ideas here. It was the feeling I have with the world at the moment, that everything’s kind of slowly melting together.”
Young Magic plays the Waldorf on Friday (July 13).