Interview With Witchy Rock Musician & Multi Instrumentalist Magana

We sat down with Jeni Magana ahead of the release of her upcoming album 'Teeth' to delve into how her music's thematic and sonic elements were influenced and to discuss her experiences as a musician and the creative process behind her unique sound.

By Chris RoditisMusicngear Lead Editor

Article photo - Interview With Witchy Rock Musician & Multi Instrumentalist Magana
 

Chris, Musicngear: 'Teeth' is described as "Witchy Rock" and "Ghost Pop." Can you elaborate on how these genres influenced the album's thematic and sonic elements, and what drew you to explore such a unique blend?

Article photo - Interview With Witchy Rock Musician & Multi Instrumentalist Magana I originally thought of each of the songs as a meditation on a subject, but I really think they fit better when you think of them as spells.

Part of witchy rock is that it's connected to the earth, but then creates something more out of the elements. At their core, these are (mostly) normal song structures, but giving them this eerie sonic landscape helps to convey more accurately what I am trying to put out there.


With a background in Berklee College of Music and experiences in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles, how has each of these environments shaped your musical style and contributed to the evolution of your sound?

I owe everything to this. I went to Berklee on a quest to figure out where I felt like I fit, musically. I knew I didn't fit fully into the classical world, and I didn't want to dive so deep into the jazz world. And there were so many types of ensembles at that school that I had never even considered.

It's also where I met a lot of like-minded musicians, who helped me expand my interests even further. The Brooklyn music scene was what inspired me to put a band together in the first place. There were so many people doing cool things. That's where friends helped me learn more about recording and guitar and pedals.

Brooklyn and Los Angeles have continued to be places inspiring me to try new things and jump into different roles, which is vital for a well rounded viewpoint. 


 

You've been touring as a bassist for Mitski and Lady Lamb. How has your experience as a session musician influenced your solo work, and what aspects of it do you bring into your solo projects?

I feel extremely lucky to have a front row seat to many artists that I admire. I get to see how they work, and apply that to my own life if I want to. It's endlessly inspiring to be around anyone that's willing to commit and give performances their all.

Playing someone else's music also gives me the chance to learn other approaches to songs, and I can bring some of that into my own work if I choose. 


During the pandemic lockdown, you mentioned capturing the strange feeling of being like an alien in the midst of Los Angeles while recording 'Teeth.' How did this unique perspective influence your creative decisions?

When you take away a standard way of doing things, it's much easier to find a fresh view. Since everything felt so weird and different already, I embraced the newness and strangeness of it all musically. I tried many things I never had even thought of before.

I took synths that I had never played and ran them through my pedal board. I took woodwinds and distorted them. I created sounds out of feedback and verbs, and then printed those and left them. It was wildly experimental, and a lot of it has since been muted. But it shaped the way this record sounds. 


 

As a multi-instrumentalist and producer, could you share some insights into your preferred music gear and instruments that played a significant role in shaping the sound of 'Teeth'?

Article photo - Interview With Witchy Rock Musician & Multi Instrumentalist Magana The thing that I love about Teeth is that it's the first time I've ever fully stretched out and used every tool at my disposal. I write a lot of songs on guitar, and there is a lot of that in there. But I really put everything that I could into these tracks.

There are woodwinds. There are so many different bass sounds. I used electric, synth and upright bass, often tracking more than one and then choosing or combining. I made a lot of the soundscapes with the Prophet 8 and I will sing the praises of that keyboard until the day I die.

Then there's a lot of guest appearances from my husband's studio collection as well: some really cool old synths, Casio keyboards, omnichord, etc. I would like to emphasize that I had a LOT of time on my hands. I normally would think it through before physically loading up a song with everything. 



Stay tuned for the arrival of Jeni Magana's anticipated singles, Paul on February 16th and Break Free on March 8th. The enchanting journey continues with the release of her second album, Teeth, on March 25th.


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About Chris Roditis

Chris Roditis has been an active musician since 1995 in various bands and projects across a variety of genres ranging from acoustic, electronic to nu metal, british rock and trip hop. He has extensive experience as a mixing engineer and producer and has built recording studios for most of the projects he has been involved with. His passion for music steered his entrepreneurial skills into founding MusicNGear in 2012.

Contact Chris Roditis at chrisroditis@kinkl.com

About Interviews

In this section of the blog we host interviews with established but also up and coming artists we love and recommend as well as music industry professionals with tons of useful information to share.

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