By John Clay, Rock At Night London
Stash Magnetic’s killer debut single for Field Of Dreams Recordings features three stunning remixes covering dub electronica to deep deep house by, man of the moment, Richard Sen, Dan Wainwright and Field Of Dreams’ Al Mackenzie. Rock At Night caught up with the UK synth wave duo, Rebecca and Nick Magnetic. We describe them as a curious blend of ambitious Vangelis synth peaks awash with the rolling unstoppable force that is Rebecca’s vocals. Think Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane in her 1960’s prime.
BANDCAMP: My Future EP, by Stash Magnetic
Rock At Night: Hey people, thanks for giving me time to talk to you about your EP release. How did you chance upon the Field of Dreams label?
Nick: Hey John thanks for having us. We really appreciate it!
We got invited to play a gig in Stoke Newington last summer with our favourite DJs “PIDR” and the guest dj was Mr Al Mackenzie, the label boss for Field Of Dreams. He did an absolute belter of a set! We started chatting after our gig and him and his wife Rachel were both rather taken with our live set. He vowed that night to put our music out on his label. He is a man of his word. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with FOD and we are working on a follow up release now.
Rock At Night: A follow up release? You guys are busy. Let’s chat about your latest release, the ‘My Future’ E.P. Did you find yourself embracing any new techniques in recording it, and if so, don’t be shy. You can get a little geeky.
Rebecca: John, did you just give the green light to “get a little geeky”? Here we go…
Rock At Night: Sure, go ahead.
Nick: Well, we are a two piece band and in order to allow us to play multiple roles within this format I use a hardware sequencer called Pyramid by a small company called Squarp. No computers allowed in this band! For the bass duties we use a Moog synthesizer and we take turns playing the bass. With this track I discovered that if I synchronise the Moog midi clock to the Pyramid we can effectively play complex bass lines with one finger. Essentially the voltages on the Moog will follow the tempo of the track and give us freedom to sing and play guitar. It also means depending on how the Moog is set up the bass line will always be slightly different. It’s the nature of an analog instrument. It will never sound the same twice. I like working with these limitations as it usually presents an unexpected but desirable result.
Rock At Night: Why no computers and have you ever given thought to making an exception?
Nick: Computers give you too many options. They are not musical instruments. They are cold and not intuitive. They are meant to perform many tasks. I find all the plugins sound generic and a bit too perfect and same-y. The Pyramid is essentially a music computer but it’s a dedicated musical instrument that inspires you to create. It only computes music notes and communicates with instruments. I liken making music on a computer to playing a calculator or something. Analog instruments are much more inspiring to me. They are much more akin to a guitar or trumpet in that the voltages are actual vibrations inside the circuit board. They are potentials and variations that never reproduce the same way twice. These instruments inspire me to play and experiment. Computers tend to make me angry and annoyed.
Rock At Night: When did you come up with this philosophy and is there a danger in making a fetish of one tool by demonising another?
Nick: I started making electronic music in the eighties before personal computers were a household item. We didn’t have a choice then. I’m still essentially creating in the exact same way. I eventually started using a PC when it became the new way of making electronic music but it wasn’t for me. To each their own. I’m sure there are people making great music on PC’s but that way doesn’t inspire me in my creative work. Digital still has its place in music, obviously. Samplers sequencers, digital effects, memory banks. We use all of these in our music. I still use the EVIL computer for recording music because it’s not practical at this time to use a tape machine. Ultimately we all listen to music in analog not digital. After all even with digital music recordings you still have to convert it back to analog to hear it. The human ear can’t listen to 1s and 0s as music can only be heard by way of vibrations and frequency. Digital can only replicate sound. By nature all sound is analog, fact. Electronic music has its roots in analog technology and all of my favourite works and artists create music in this way so naturally I gravitate in that direction.
Rock At Night: How do you feel about the remixes on your record?
Rebecca: Every remix on this EP is a gem and we couldn’t be more pleased with the artists’ contributions. Each one strikes me as a different mood. Depending on how I feel I gravitate to one over the other. Maybe the heavy electrodub version of Dan Wainwright captures me as I’m deep in a hazy daydream, maybe the uplifting buoyancy in Richard Sen’s when I’m into a dance, or when I want to transport to a deep house world, Al Mackenzie’s surrealism. These guys are all heavyweights in the field. It’s like having the A Team of dance create your dream EP. I love it when a plan comes together!
Rock At Night: Did you give a brief for each remix, or was it a traditional hands off project?
Nick: No brief. Just would you like to do a remix for us? I suppose asking a certain producer to do a mix is kinda of like saying I love your work and would love it if you would interpret our track with your unique production style.
Rock At Night: Your work is then much like a subject sitting down in front of painter you respect and allowing their reinterpretation to be the order of the day. Can you tell us a little bit about the sleeve artwork?
Rebecca: Yes, very much like that! Reinterpretation. Anticipation of the reinterpretation, excitement hearing the new work, an exciting process all around! The artwork is a Power Sigil. It’s an image of The Phoenix rising from the ashes. I’m interested in the idea of using symbols to represent synchronous moments and to invoke manifestation. Aren’t the letters of our alphabet each sigils that we arrange in a specific order to “spell” or create “spelling”?
The Phoenix image came to me when I was drawing ideas for imagery to use in our video for My Future. You inspired that path, John! We were considering creating our own type of tarot imagery, but my interpretation was a Native American vibe.
I believe some of their prophecies about where the world would one day be after white Europeans destroyed their nations are coming to pass.
Rock At Night: Care to share one of these prophecies? Sounds interesting.
Rebecca: The Phoenix is a symbol of great strength, creative, powerful life coming from the ashes of destruction. Sometimes fire is a great cleanser. We are going through a time of spiritual cleansing, waking up. A renewed Earth. Cross cultural cooperation. Living in a higher vibration.
Rock At Night: Did this come from a particular Native American community that you could mention here?
Rebecca: No, not one particular one. Tribes are still struggling today to protect their sacred land. This was inspiration for lyrics for My Future, which, in turn, inspired the video and the artwork.
Rock At Night: In closing, would you like people to take any particular meaning from ‘My Future’?
Rebecca: We are waking up and recognising we are powerful beings that can invoke positive change.
Rock At Night: Thank you, and where can people get the record?
Rebecca: Please buy the record from Field of Dreams Records on Bandcamp. Digital or limited edition 12″Vinyl is available here: https://fieldofdreamsmusic.bandcamp.com
Rock At Night: Brilliant. Hope to catch you live again once it’s safe to do so guys x
FACEBOOK: Stash Magnetic