Q&A: Gabriola (Magicwire)
You probably know Lone for his blockbuster album on R&S, Reality Testing, which produced some of the most prevalent club hits of 2014/15, and still lives strong in the mind. It seemed you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Airglow Fires or 2 is 8, and that wasn’t a bad thing. The concoction of broken beats, divine synths and mystical atmospheres was intoxicating. But, aside from his work on this classic label, the Manchester producer has also been pushing sounds through the underground under the Magicwire brand in collaboration with Gabriola. At the same time as releasing a follow up to Reality Testing on R&S last year, he has been resurrecting the label, re-releasing his early work alongside quality releases from Gnork, Project Pablo and more, all behind a veil of gorgeous 90s retro-futurism that is the 2017 zeitgeist, for sure. We spoke to his partner Gabriola, who will be joining him at HiFi for Indigo’s label showcase on 13th May 2017.
How did the Magicwire crew form? Where did you all meet and what were the label’s beginnings?
Magicwire started in ’09 with Matt Lone & Sean to get a few of the Lone releases out into the world, after Emerald Fantasy Tracks came out Matt got swooped by R&S. We was all in Nottingham and we all just sort of became buds through our extended group. I then moved to Vancouver in 10/11 and then came back in 15, we got together then and decided to get Magicwire going again with the 3 of us.
The label had quite a big gap between its seventh and eleventh releases, the latter of which marked a big shift in aesthetic. Can you talk us through that shift? Also, on this topic, is it easy for a label or artist to stay consistent to one vision and run with it, or is the temptation to deviate from your own style? Do you find the literal ‘label’ restricting or liberating?
There was a gap from 2011 to 2016, between the 5th & 6th release. Its great to have the vision and keep that as your foundation, then deviating from that as you/it progresses but staying with the boundaries of your vague formula. Musically its not restricting at all, look at XL, gone from rave & The Prodigy to breaking Adele. Don’t really understand why labels start sub labels for another ‘genre’, just keep it all under one banner, unless you start a psytrance moniker, then that can have its own grave.
Could you talk us through the label’s name and sub-heading: ‘the birds don’t fly this high’?
Magicwire is a phono to headphone jack you need to plug your phone into a line in on an amp/mixer. We wanted to use In Order To Dance but that was taken.
How important is it to you to have control over the label’s artwork? What influences your style?
It gives continuity, but its important to include everyone involved in the direction, especially on the releases. Influences, Neil Blender & Patrick Nagel.
The latest record on Magicwire by DSR.MR could be considered a lo-fi record because of its crunchy, analogue finish. Your visual aesthetic also nods towards retrofuturism. What is your response to the recent backlash to the lo-fi genre, which suggested that electronic music had run out of ideas? And where do you see yourself on the lo-fi spectrum, if at all?
Its just like any genre of music, there will always be good and bad. Some tracks stand out and are a cut above but theres also a lot of crap. Look at most genres, theres generally a lot of crap in there. With the internet now scenes have less time to grow because all of a sudden anyone anywhere can mimic something posted on Soundcloud. Thats in all creative spectrums now to, from skateboarding to graphic design, not just music. The internet opens up for anyone to upload content (which is great) but theres a reduction in quality control because of that. Nu Disco though, that’s all rubbish, before & after the internet.
At HiFi, you will be doing a big three-way back to back set alongside Lone and Project Pablo. From experience, I know how fun this can be, and how powerful it can be in creating camaraderie. However, it can also be a nightmare. How does this set-up help or hinder you creatively? Is each DJ on the same wavelength?
The three of us have played together a bunch of times, always been fun.
The music you put out covers a lot of ground, from dusty acid and deep house to balearic and ambient. But what would you say is the common factor between everything? What makes a Magicwire record?
Chords & pads.
You recently had Byron The Aquarius on your NTS show. I wouldn’t necessarily have put you guys together, musically. How did you meet?
Byron’s a dude. He reached out to us a while back and just started chatting, we all hang together when he’s in town.
Have you ever been to or played in Leeds before?
We’ve had a few adventures at our friend Stef’s place… can’t say seen much though.
What’s next for the Magicwire brand?
We got a 2×12” out in the summer and then another EP in the autumn. Parties lined up in London, have 2 wicked unconventional loft spaces we’ve snuffed out, radio shows, late nights, walking the dog, the usual.