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What I Learned at Bandcamp: Jeremy Mage and The Magi

Jeremy Mage and The Magi, Bandcamp, interview

Multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Mage has toured the world playing with numerous bands and studied with the likes of Alan Ginsberg, James Hurt, Fred Frith, and Pupy Pedroso in Havana. Mage is a Grammy award winner, songwriter, producer, and singer, and has composed music for film and television.

In March 2014, he released his solo debut. The nine-track album, Jeremy Mage and The Magi, features musicians from Ghana, California, Brasil, and New York, as well as a vocal cameo from Reggie Watts.

Below, read The Spec‘s interview with Jeremy Mage and stream the album on Bandcamp…

Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m so grateful and lucky that I get to do what I love all day long, and I’ve been doing that for a long time. I’d like to keep doing it till I become compost.

How long have you been making music?
Can’t remember when I wasn’t. But I think the Point of No Return for me was listening to the song “Poppa Was a Rolling Stone,” the extended LP, when I was around nine. It had so much power, soul, depth, movement… It just charged the air and impregnated its own silences…I just wanted to be able to make something like that!

Who/what are your influences?
I’m influenced most profoundly by kindness and nature. Every day.

What is your favorite song on the new album and why?
I was gonna make some stock answer about “well, they’re like children, you know, you can’t choose,” but if I think about it terms of the songs that did the most for me, moving me along further in life, I’d say, “My Father’s Guitar.” I recorded that the same day I wrote it, and it felt completely needed, and helped me grow up a little more. That song helped me fully step into and embrace the love and the complexity of my relationship with my pops. “I Am My Own” was urgently needed in a similar way. . . and I also recorded it the same day I wrote it. So those are the songs that feel 100 percent like sustenance for emotional growth and survival.

Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here?
It is such a joyous and rewarding experience to play my songs for a room full of people I don’t know, and feel that together we’re moved and inspired. That’s really better than chocolate. I want to do that as often as possible. It’s been a great year for that. More of that!!

I’m already at work on the next album, tentatively titled 10 Pretty Songs about Death… an exploration of mortality in song. But my label doesn’t know that yet (Hi, Tim!).

If you could no longer be a musician, what would you be or do for a living?
I really enjoy teaching philosophy… But I’d have to get my chops up, ’cause it’s been a while since college!!

What musicians or bands do you look up to?
I look up to James Hurt, one of the great unsung geniuses of my generation. He’s a beautiful person and an infinitely inspiring musician.

Why do you make music?
We’re all made of it. So I’m just returning the favor. I don’t know, I really can’t not.

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