Aside from the mesmerizing instrumental electronic music Slow Magic makes, there’s a mysticism surrounding the young producer that pulls you in even more. The “young” part is even a guess because nobody really knows for sure who the mastermind behind Slow Magic is, his real name or what he looks like. Armed with a multi-colored imaginary animal mask, Slow Magic takes to the stage like the untamed beast he represents. He pounds on the drums like he’s harnessing his primal instincts and delivers an infectious sound so sweet, it’s impossible not to love. More performance art than anything, Slow Magic reveals why he hides his identity.
“When I started this project, I wanted the main focus to be the music and artwork, and not a person or a place or a face,” he says. “I thought that a lot of times, even before you hear the music, you’ve already judged or had a thought of what it could be so I wanted to challenge that. I also wanted to make the focus more on the project than me. With all the attention now, I don’t really see any difference on how I want the project to be seen by everything. It’s still the same to me.”
Other artists have managed to keep their identities a mystery for years, most notably hip-hop vet MF Doom AKA “Metal Fingers.” He’s been wearing various masks since he emerged in 1997 and constantly reinvents himself. He’s managed to enjoy a fruitful career ever since. Slow Magic sees no reason to take it off.
“I don’t really see it changing on purpose or me standing on stage taking the mask off,” he says. “I really don’t live anywhere and I’m usually wearing the mask. I still have a lot of friends so I think it’s possible to exist that way.”
For an artist who doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page (yet), he’s rising in the ranks of artists to watch. After the release of 2012’s critically acclaimed Triangle, Slow Magic became an international movement after touring with artists like Gold Panda and XXYYXX. His most recent album, How To Run Away, was released September 9 and is another seamlessly constructed masterpiece. From album opener “Still Life” to the last track, “Closer,” it doesn’t miss a beat (no pun intended). So far, he’s thrilled with the album’s reception.
“I’m feeling really excited that it’s being heard by people because I’ve spent a really long time working on it and trying to figure out the best way to release it,” he admits. “I am happy people are streaming it and seeing it.”
By the sound of it, How To Run Away appears to be recorded in the most professional studio possible, but surprisingly most of it is recorded in his bedroom.
“I guess you can call it a studio, too,” he says. “I spend a lot of time with these ideas in my head and figuring out how to get them to come out into music. I spend a lot of time on my computer making things sound real and recording things and making them sound fake [laughs]. It’s a long process; lots of recording and lots of manipulating things. I don’t write a song and then record it. It’s more of a long, strenuous process; like a note-to-note kind of thing.”
Music has always been a big part of Slow Magic’s life, but he was initially drawn into it by different artistic mediums such as film and painting.
“I never knew for sure what my path was,” he says. “I just knew it involved creating something.”
Influences include The Beach Boys with Brian Wilson (something he’s very specific about) and video game soundtracks. His love of old-school sounding synths and percussion make his music pop with an unrelenting, infectious energy. While it’s almost painful to not know his first name, he has a seemingly logical reason for the ambiguity.
“The mask is supposed to be an imaginary animal so it’s up to interpretation,” he explains. “The idea was designed by a friend of mine named Jonas McCluggage. He’s a painter and an illustrator. I came to him with the idea for an imaginary animal mask because I had a show to play. He just made it out of cardboard and paint one day. It was a brilliant design and it stuck. “
For Slow Magic, he’s always worn it on stage, which for the most part people respect, but there have been a couple of occasions where it could have gotten ugly.
“It’s really rare,” he says. “It’s usually not the coolest people at the show that try to mess with it. I really think it’s only happened once or twice when a really drunk frat guy has tried to take my mask off. That’s because I go out to the crowd with my drum. It’s not an issue that I really deal with. There have been a few criticisms, but those people don’t really understand why I wear the mask.”
As Slow Magic makes his way across the United States, there’s an undeniable anticipation for each show— and not just his own. People who have caught on to his music are captivated by his enigmatic allure and his live performances are reported to be a magical experience. He’s in a place now he didn’t really see coming.
“It started a little over two years ago and I think maybe two or three months into the project, I was in Europe playing shows,” he says. “It’s been a long process of crazy opportunities and things I never thought I would get to do. I hope people enjoy it. That’s the main thing I want. I want to keep playing, traveling and making more music. When I’m playing music, that’s when I feel the most alive.”