Interview – The Unstoppable Rise of the Magic Gang

With guitar bands falling out of favour, The Magic Gang seem an exception to the rule

Having released their self-titled debut album back in March, the Magic Gang are rising stars of the indie-rock scene. The Brighton four-piece formed in 2013, releasing their first single in 2015. They seem to defy the indie-rock stereotypes with their relatively clean look and breezy, catchy songs. However, their easy-going style, is matched with enough genius craftsmanship. The tracks may seem superficially simple but are layered with harmonies and texture – it may be easy on the ears but that simply adds to the optimistic charm of the band.

Equally charming is Jack Kaye (lead vocal/guitar), who spoke to me about their creative process: “Whilst it does vary from song to song, a lot of the stuff will be something that one person has brought to the table which will then get worked on by the whole group – any member may come up with a verse or a chorus and it will get finished by the band. Creatively we get on really well, we’re very respectful of each other and don’t bring our egos in when writing a song.”

Recently, the band has been selling out shows all across the country, but they have toured somewhat endlessly since their formation, whether that be as a support act or a headline. Now a major name for smaller festivals like TRUCK and Kendall Calling, The Magic Gang have made real strides in the last year towards becoming a staple of the ‘indie’ genre.

When asked about the role gigs and festivals has had in their success, Jack said: “I think they’re absolutely vital to our journey.  When we started doing these support shows early on that was when we saw our own fan base start to develop…It’s really exciting each time we play bigger venues, we get this kind of buzz, and try to step up the show and make it more of an experience. So, that’s a big aspect for us, playing live.”

The band has even more plans to tour later this year, headlining a major UK tour, with future plans to grow their fan base in both Europe and America. For The Magic Gang, much of the joy of the music is still in playing live shows.

“The best moment was probably the Electric Ballroom show that we did a couple of weeks ago, that was our biggest like headline show that felt like a real kind of pinnacle. When you do the shows over and over again it does become a little bit like hard to define each show from the last. But when you do something like that, it all hits you at once, when you see that many people looking at you, it’s like oh my god, this really is working!”

Their music scene has also evolved, away from selling records to an increased emphasis on touring and merchandise. I asked him whether he thought that platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music have affected the way musicians make a career in the industry.

“I think that it has massively shifted from selling records to other aspects. Streaming is a massive thing for the music industry…I just think that the focus has got to shift really, if people aren’t buying records there’s got to be other ways that you can sort of make a career out of music. Probably playing live, I imagine has become a sort of bigger deal.

“Before I was in this band I would happily use Spotify or Apple music without thinking twice. I’m still kind of like that to some extent but I definitely value buying someone’s work…when you sit and listen to an album on Spotify, you don’t kind of consider everything that’s gone into it.”

With over 350,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, it’s easy to see why this band is achieving success. Citing bands such as The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra as influences, The Magic Gang have created a vibe that seems to be working. However, in a climate where indie-rock is declining, I asked Jack about the future of the band’s music:

“To be honest , I think the reason [for the decline of Indie rock] is that urban music or grime has been producing the most exciting music in recent years…I don’t think we’re in any kind of rush to remain ‘relevant’. Things will shift, and I think that if you’re writing good music, that’s the bottom line of it, it doesn’t have to be a certain genre, it doesn’t have to be guitars, it doesn’t have to have synthesisers, it just has to be good music, and there’s no point in us rushing to abandon our guitars or anything like that because we’re worried about a trend. We’ll just stick to what we’re doing and keep writing songs and music that we love.”

The Magic Gang are definitely ones to watch this coming year as they go from strength to strength. So far they seem to be doing something right, and so it’s hardly surprising that their fanbase and fame is increasing. A refreshing and welcome change to the worn-out genre, I look forward to seeing what they’ll be doing in the future.