Interview | The Magician
You got your start as one-half of Aeroplane before going solo in 2010. What made you decide to pursue your own project?
My dream has always been to be an international DJ traveling the world. My two big passions are music and traveling. So when we split up, it was normal for me to pursue a new project to achieve my dreams.
My girlfriend Julie had been keen to help develop The Magician along with me. She had the idea to name me “The Magician” actually and straight away I made Magic Tape 01.
Your remix of Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers”, released in 2011, as well as “Sunlight”, your 2014 collaboration with Olly Alexander from Years & Years, took your career to a stratospheric new level, with placings on several European Top 10 pop charts. What was it like for you to achieve such a high level of success a couple of years after starting the project?
After the split, my goal was to get a profile as high as Aeroplane’s was in 2010 and in the meantime I was kind of depressed and especially afraid to have lost [the] certain level of popularity I had with Aeroplane. When I saw the enthusiasm about the “I Follow Rivers” remix, I [trusted] myself as I never had in my life. Then I realized the popularity was not even 50% of it because I was the remixer, not the main artist/singer.
So my new goal was to make a proper single. It took me three years mainly because I couldn’t take two weeks off in the studio because of a busy touring schedule. Then in September 2014, “Sunlight” peaked at 7 in the UK and overall Top 50 in many countries. For the second time I achieved something cool in my career.
Who have been some of your greatest influences as a producer and DJ? Who are some up and coming producers and DJs that, in your opinion, we should keep an eye on?
There have been many at different times.
[As a] young boy my dad played Queen, ABBA, David Bowie, [and] Michael Jackson. So I have been bathed in late 70’s and 80’s pop music. Later in the 80’s, early 90s, I fell in love with house and techno music. Chicago House, Detroit Techno and Belgian New Beat. But then when [I went] to London for the first time I started to buy Breakbeat and House Garage music until Daft Punk released “Da Funk”, followed by all the French Touch which was a kind of revolution for me as they brought more funk/disco into house.
You recently released the 90th edition of your “Magic Tape” series. That is quite a phenomenal feat for an ongoing mixtape series. What is your secret to keeping this series going?
I put so much effort into the Magic Tape series. I always try to find fresh music and sometimes not yet released [music]. And also the fact [that] the mixtape is not too big room, not too pop and has an indie/disco twist, it can be playable in the car, at the gym, at a dinner…
I chatted with Martin Garrix the other day and he told me “I download each Magic Tape since the beginning and play them as party starter with my friends”. I was surprised and honored.
What is your all-time favorite track of those that you have produced? What is your all-time favorite track of someone else’s?
Until today, “Sunlight”, but the best is yet to come.
There are too [many] all time favorites. I invite you to listen to my Spotify playlist called “The Music That Changed My Life”
While you have played in DC many times, this time you are playing as part of DC’s Pride Week celebrations. What excites you the most about performing this particular gig?
It’s always a pleasure to play UHall. I’ve never played anywhere else in DC and I’m fine with that. I like the team, especially Will Eastman, who I’m friends with now. He has booked me at least seven or eight times at UHall. It’s great to play for this event – I used to play for 50% gay parties in Brussels in the late 90s and the vibe was incredible!
What advice would you give to any aspiring producers and DJ’s?
To not be afraid to be original and listen to all genres and eras of music.
What’s next for The Magician, in regards to both your career and your label, Potion?
The “Ready To Love” remix package is out today via b1 Recordings. You can catch the Magician live tomorrow night at U Street Music Hall alongside Twonski and tunneloflove as part of DMV Deep’s PRIDE party. Tickets can be purchased via UHall’s website.