INTERVIEW: Magnetic Skies
Jo Womar and Simon Kent. Magnetic Skies. London. Photograph by David Levene. 15/2/19
Hi folks, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hi, yes we’re all good thanks for talking to us!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Believe In You”?
Yes sure. It’s one of the tracks on our new EP, and it’s a song about a crisis point, disillusionment, a breakdown of sorts. And also about having an anchor point to save you and help you move beyond that.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Everything we write has some level of honesty, and yes this does reflect an intense period of questioning and reflection. The process of writing songs can often help you work through difficult times.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
There are no plans for a video for this track, or for anything on the current EP. We have some ideas running about for videos to accompany future releases, so perhaps something soon.
The single comes off your new album Dreams and Memories – what’s the story behind the title?
The release is actually an EP, and Dreams And Memories is the lead track on there. The lyrics to Dreams And Memories are mine, and they are very personal. It’s about a relationship with a childhood friend, and looking back at a time in your life when you’re both really young and the whole world seems like it’s opened up for you. The first verse is looking back at that innocence, at that point of time and all those things you say you’re going to do. The second verse is a reality check, and seeing that the two of you have grown apart. How you can either forget all those dreams and get lost in the noise of life – or keep them alive as part of who you become.
How was the recording and writing process?
The song was the first we put together as a band, and the early days in a band tend to be the most exciting – partly because you’re starting out on a road of discovery, and also because there is no benchmark to compare your work to in terms of previous releases. The writing was an easy process, as there was no expectation to create something commercial and we were starting to discover what we were all about. The majority of the recording was completed within the writing process, with drums and a couple of small parts added just before the mixing stage.
What was it like to work with Phil Brown and how did that relationship develop?
It was great working with Phill. Phill’s name appeared in the credits for a lot of the music we listened to, and therefore we decided to send him demos of a few tracks to see whether he may be interested in mixing them with us. Phill called up pretty quickly and said he really liked the songs. He then booked studio time for us and we spent a week together in London mixing around ten tracks. It was interesting to see how differently Phill works from most people in the studio. The main difference I found was that Phill tends to mix by ear, rather than by sight. What I mean by that is that most producers visually align performances on the computer screen these days to create a near to perfect performance in terms of timing etc. However, Phill seemed to rarely even look at the screen, and we’d mix solely by adjusting what we heard through the speakers. The end result is a more open and relaxed production. And in a sense a more honest representation of the performances.
How much did he get to influence the album?
He didn’t influence the album at all, we just asked him to mix the tracks that we felt would benefit from his input. We had already completed all the recording and arrangements prior to working with Phill. There is only one track on this EP that he was involved with, but we will be releasing more of the work we completed together over the coming months.
How Talk Talk has influence your writing?
Talk Talk have been a big influence on our music in many ways. Their journey from synth pop to art rock is fascinating, as well as just the great songs throughout their albums. Mark was/is also an enigmatic character, with a great voice who had the strength to follow his musical path.
What were some of the dreams and memories you got to explore on this record?
The four tracks on this EP cover childhood & loss of innocence (Dreams And Memories), attraction and taking life’s chances (Magnetic Skies), wanting to be there for someone in their hour of need (I Am Your Friend), and personal crisis and breakdown (Believe In You).
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Just from everyday life. Everything has to mean something and to be honest, or I can’t work with it. And the aim being to make the lyrics oblique enough to resonate with the listener.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes we do want to play some shows, we’re just waiting for the right time to fit with the overall project.
What else is happening next in Magnetic Skies’ world?
A lot! We’re releasing a couple more EPs this year, as well as working on new songs that we’ll be mixing in the studio over the spring and summer, and they are sounding a little different from the work we’re releasing this year – so that’s really exciting. Hopefully we’ll get to play some live shows, and then next year will be either more EP releases, or a full album release.
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