Photography by Victoria Stevens
Words by Benjamin Trager
Shining through a sea of musical abundance and ambiguity, Young Magic is a band that shies away from any singular identity. The band’s cohesive task is the creation of an organic aesthetic, and though Brooklyn is their home, Young Magic is not defined by a particular location or style, the result being an eclectic, if not otherworldly sound.
Band members Michael Italia, Melati Malay, and Isaac Emmanuel all live and work as expatriates, affording the group a unique creative outlook that extends beyond Australia, their place of birth, and Brooklyn, their adopted home. Not only do they have the perspective of creating in an environment that did not shape their identities, they have also had the opportunity to make music throughout the world, from South America to Europe. Their wide cultural perspective has, whether consciously or not, helped to nurture their sound. It’s not simply that the musical idiosyncrasies of these particular places have taken hold of Young Magic’s sound; the band has permitted their personal and daily experiences to permeate it.
“I think it’s inevitable when you’re recording in so many different environments, that your songs will have been influenced by so many environmental factors.” says Italia. “Whether it’s a weird encounter with a stranger, the relentless bombardment of advertising, being completely out of your comfort zone and trying to make sense of a foreign world or simply absorbing the energy of a new scene.”
One cannot discount the influence that Brooklyn, their current home, exerts on these artists. The borough has acted as the springboard for bands that have satisfied nearly every musical palate, and the source of inspiration has been simple, and shared, Italia feels. The air, the concrete, the art, the people — they have all played a role.
“For me, it’s one of the most interesting and culturally diverse places in the world. Of course, the music and arts scene keeps growing and growing,” Italia says, “but I find the streets and architecture particularly inspiring. It has a certain lugubriousness that is undeniably Brooklyn. The old Brownstones, deteriorated apartments and cracked roads hold an energy that I find particularly enchanting. And it feels like home.”
Although the three members of Young Magic knew each other before they reunited in Brooklyn, they had not worked with each other before. Sharing common musical interests, working together came naturally, they said. Like many bands they come together to collaborate and share, but the band’s product is also a reflection of each member’s individual musical abilities, Italia says.
“We tend to get in our own little insular bubble and create sounds. Then we’ll all get together, and have these little sharing sessions where we’ll show each other what we’ve been working on. They’re always so much fun. We all feed off these. It’s always really inspiring to hear what we’ve all been creating.”
Young Magic’s sound, as a result, has carved its own space in the music scene. The title of their first album, Melt, released in early 2012, exemplifies their free-form, organic creative style: the fusion of three distinct voices into one, and the creation of form by completely eschewing it at the outset of their project.
“When I’m in the studio I never have a particular sound I’m trying to create, or a particular style I’m trying to emulate,” says Italia. “I just try to let it flow as naturally as possible without over thinking it.”
The band’s approach has allowed a multitude of styles, from tribal rhythm to psychedelic, to rise to the surface of the record, but still preserves an identity all their own. Although it’s not easy to assign Young Magic’s sound to one category, it is easy to identify their sound as rich and ethereal while remaining uncomplicated and elegant.
Even though Young Magic is a relatively new project for Michael, Melati, and Isaac, formed less than two years ago, they share a unified vision that their music will remain a collaborative process tinged by their life experiences. The final product being a very natural creation not intended to create any particular sound. The musical destination is uncertain, though their options are as vast as their influences.
Click here to see more on Young Magic.