Anonymity is rare in the age of social media, but Slow Magic, a masked electronic artist billed as “music by your imaginary friend,” has successfully evaded identification.
Slow Magic’s debut, 2012’s Triangle, was critically acclaimed and followed by How To Run Away two years later. Totally danceable yet delightfully mellow, the incognito party-starter has developed his own brand of deconstructionist house music.
We spoke to this mysterious beat master from (where else?) an undisclosed location.
City Pages: What factored into your decision to remain anonymous?
Slow Magic: It started with a few songs that I felt didn’t really fit in a band. I wanted to separate the songs from an identity or location, so I came up with the idea of “music by your imaginary friend.” It eventually grew to be more of a character.
CP: Describe the mask—or are there more than one now?—that you wear.
SM: It started as a cardboard and tape mask. Now I have a mask with this whole light show. It’s evolved over the years.
CP: It must get pretty hot being onstage in a mask.
SM: It can be hot and sweaty but it’s fun to have the freedom to be up onstage and not be looked at. It’s fun to be able to express my music through a different identity.
CP: Does anybody know who you are behind the mask?
SM: Not really. There are a few family members. But no one knows or sees me.
CP: What area of the country are you from?
SM: I can’t say. That’s a secret. I guess I feel a little bit homeless at this point because I get to travel everywhere, even across the ocean.
CP: And when you’re not on tour, where do you stay?
SM: I have a home. A lot of my music is made in my bedroom.
CP: What is your creative process like?
SM: It can be different depending on where I am or what’s going on. I try to work on things when I’m traveling, even if I’m on an airplane or on a bus. When I’m home, it’s the best time. Once I get really invested in the song, I spend a lot of time going over every detail. The excitement of making something extends the hours and I don’t realize how long time is passing. It’s always fun to come up with something when you start with nothing.
CP: Are you classically trained?
SM: I have a musical family. I was always drawn to guitars and drums. I did learn basic music in school. I learned percussion playing in jazz and marching band. Beyond that, I taught myself a lot, like how to make music on the computer.
CP: What sorts of artists influenced you as you were developing your style?
SM: The Beach Boys were a big influence in my younger years. Sufjan Stevens is a big influence. Sigur Rós is one of my favorite bands.
CP: Who would you love to collaborate with?
SM: It’s a long list. A dream collaborator would be the singer [Koji] from the band Rye. Their record is really amazing and beautiful. It’d be cool to do a song with them.
CP: What themes or emotions inspired your most recent album, How To Run Away?
SM: It was inspired by my own life. I suddenly started playing music and traveling. Music has always been a big part of my life but it was more of a hobby. Now I get to “run away” and make music. I also like the idea of the freedom of travel and that feeling of being somewhere new.
CP: What place has made the biggest impression on you while on tour?
SM: For this year, it has to be a tie between Tokyo, Japan, and Iceland. They’re both really cool places that I got to play and see. They’re places I always wanted to go and getting to go there for music was a dream come true.
CP: What was your career plan before your music took off?
SM: I didn’t have any solid plans. I did work in a recording studio as an intern. I think I knew that music was supposed to be what I was going to do full-time. I got lucky with the details on it. I don’t know what I would be doing...or I’d be doing the same thing, but maybe it would be harder to make a living.
CP: You’ve said that you wanted to do a film score at some point. Has that panned out?
SM: Yeah. I think that would be really fun. I’ve done a few small projects, one with some friends for Halloween—an “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” remake. I’d like to do something like that in the future or even a video game. I like the idea of music as a companion to the emotion that a movie brings.
CP: What reaction do you hope to provoke in the audience when you perform?
SM: My main goal is to connect with everyone there and hopefully everyone there feels connected in a positive way. The best shows for me are where everyone is dancing and the energy is there. Every show is different, but big or small, it’s cool when it feels like everyone understands what’s going on with the music.
CP: Will you ever make music under your given name or under another guise?
SM: Yeah. Ever since I was young, I’ve been in so many different bands and started so many different projects that maybe some people see now. Maybe some people don’t know that they’re connected. I think there’s some other music out there and maybe in the future.
When: 8:30 p.m. Sun., Nov. 29.
Where: Varsity Theater.