Refreshing LA pop duo Magdalena Bay discuss new EP ‘A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling’, articulate their process, visuals, and the emotion behind the music.
‘A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling’ – Magdalena Bay
Everything is happening for LA singer/songwriter Mica Tenenbaum and producer/songwriter Matthew Lewin, better known as pop group Magdalena Bay. While they are now on the precipice of a new EP, A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling, the duo have been making hypnotic dance music since 2017.
Out Friday, March 13, 2020, A Little Rhyme a Wicked Feeling is true to its name. “How to Get Physical” kicks off the record as a rhythmic, racy romp about wanting to get physical on and off your feet. “Venice” is a cheeky track that will make you ache for 80 degree weather and a convertible. “Airplane”, the dark horse, is a multifaceted ballad about the struggle of watching everyone grow up and having to take the road less traveled.’
Blush lights dripping over me
I got a little dizzy following your lead
And then my heartbeat is in my feet
I get a little rhythm and a wicked feeling
Oh oh oh
Heartbeat is in my feet
I get a little comfort yeah you make me feel it
Yeah you make me feel it, oh
Yeah you make me feel it
How to get physical when you’re not made for dancing
How, how to let you know I really wanna take you home
How to get physical I guess you’ll take my hand and
Oh oh, I’ll really let you take control
– “How to Get Physical,” Magdalena Bay
Perhaps no other up-and-coming artist has taken as many risks as the innovative, corporeal sound of this electronic pop duo.
“We describe it as “future ’90s throwback space-pop,” which is like a mess, but it’s just like retro-inspired pop,” Tenenbaum told Atwood Magazine in a 2018 interview. “Now I realize that it’s actually a thing that is happening right now in pop, and like, you don’t know at first when you’re a part of it, but there are a lot of artists who are doing it. It’s a good thing in pop right now… It’s definitely looking to the past, but I feel like it’s through a modern lens. It’s a movement that has been going in pop right now… it’s not so much about the time period, but very specific elements that we like from older music. Mainstream pop has been very dark right now, if you listen to the radio everything is very dark and trap driven, and we just don’t like that as listeners and as writers. We are looking to other things.”
With not only a constant array of singles, but also a micro-album entitled mini mix vol.1 released in 2019, the group have shown not just their versatility, but the tenacity to usher in the new generation of pop. Their approach has been DIY from the start, yet the rank amongst such high-visibility, major artists like Charli XCX, Kim Petras, and Grace Ives.
Yet, as easy as it is to quantify similar artists, all comparisons feel somewhat vague as Magdalena Bay’s sound is as wavering as the inspirations behind them.
Ironically enough, despite a vast body of work and an easily infallible love for pop, Magdalena Bay actually got their start in a completely different genre.
A CONVERSATION WITH MAGDALENA BAY
Atwood Magazine: How long have you guys been making music, and when did you decide it was something you wanted to pursue?
Magdalena Bay: We met in an after school program in high school, and what started out as a classic rock cover band turned into songwriting and making original work. Still solely rock though. Eventually that band broke-up because we all went to different colleges. Then, around sophomore year of college, we (Mica and Matt) reconciled a new, pop, band.
Musically, I always think of you as No Doubt meets REO Speedwagon. Who would you say are your biggest inspirations aesthetically and musically?
Magdalena Bay: When we started, we didn’t know what pop was nor were we actively listening to it. We always just knew it as something on the radio. It wasn’t until we read an article where Julia Michaels was talking about the future of music, specifically pop, and how technical and much of a craft it can be, that we got inspired. I think we’re still slowly discovering a love for Gwen Stefani and Britney Spears (laughs), but when I (Matt) listened to Grimes’ Art Angels, as a producer, it made me realize how intricate you could get with pop music production and it made me want to explore.
Magdalena Bay seem to be just as much a visible band as a musical one. How, when you’re deciding on artwork or music videos, do you find a cohesion between so many eclectic, different styles and ideas?
Magdalena Bay: We have no idea. Mica edits our videos and honestly, the aesthetic came more out of necessity than anything else. There’s truly nothing worse than videos that try to seem high budget when they are not. (laughs). Since we don’t have the budget we rely on things like green screen and downloading videos off of youtube. For us, every song is different, each its own vignette that is set and dwells in a specific world, and that’s what dictates a lot of the thought process. We don’t like making songs that sound too much alike.
When comparing tracks like “Story”, or “Money Lover”, to ones like “Mine,” they’re all so different and harbor on opposing ideas but have a commonality. What is your writing process like? In your life what gravitates you to deciding you need to write a song about it?
Magdalena Bay: The process for us is different for every single song. It’s not really driven by we’ve had an experience and we need to write about it, that’s lyrically a lot harder to do. We’re much more thinking about the musical vibe of the song as a whole, and from there the melody usually comes first and the lyrics second. Money Lover isn’t a specific experience for us, but we’re from Miami and people there are so much about flaunting their money, and the song came about from that idea. Whereas Story, was directly about us having a music industry deal falling through right after we moved across the country to LA. See, and like, Mine was just us saying we wanted a musical-esque song that was melodramatic and extra that talked about the heartbreak of waiting for someone to come forward with their feelings.
That’s such a unique way to work, and I think it really shows in that your discography lends itself to so many ideas. So you are constantly putting out new content – does that stem from the fact that you’re still a younger band, or is it just something that has happened organically?
Magdalena Bay: Both! We like constantly putting stuff out, if we’re not, we feel like we’re just sitting around and wasting time. We need to feel like we’re always growing, and if you’re just stagnant, ie nothing new to stream, you’ll fall into lethargy quickly. I also think it’s like that for all artists, not just for us. Plus, it’s fun! It’s not like this immense pressure of “Oh shit should we be doing more!” There’s really only so much you can do but, you learn so much just doing your job, and especially for us because we have a hand in every jar.
For A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling, you have selected a lot of pre-released tracks like “Killshot”, “Venice”, and “Good Intentions.” In your vast body of singles, how do you choose which ones you want to put on the EP?
Magdalena Bay:: That’s such a good question! Well, some of our songs were made so long ago, and each of them were written as their own entities, like not interrelated at all. For us it’s partly which tracks we think are our best, but ultimately it boils down to which tracks specifically define this era of Magdalena Bay. Although that can be hard, because we have songs that we’ve finished writing but haven’t finished producing that feel integral to go on the EP. For that reason, for A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling we have to go faster in production so the EP can feel more fresh. Regardless though, we’re excited to be releasing it and getting it out there for everyone to hear.
I love that you guys think of yourselves in eras, because for me I do that, especially with pop artists, all the time. Like specifically the “Teal Bob Era,” where Gaga was singing with Tony Bennett, or bright red Rihanna on LOUD.
Magdalena Bay: Oh, for sure!
On tracks like “Airplane” and “Killshot”, you like to attribute love or your feelings about the love to inanimate objects, like airplanes and killshots. Is there a reason?
Magdalena Bay: I (Mica) think writing lyrics can be such a conceptual process that having something visual, to anchor to, is always a good idea. Airplane especially was a stream of consciousness. I (Matt) made the beat for it on an airplane, and then sent it to Mica when she was going through a crisis – Yeah, I (Mica) was a senior in college and I was going through the motions of trying to get a corporate job and making music with Matt on the side. Matt has always wanted to be a musician and was giving it a genuine go, and I realized I wanted to to, so, I hit the pause button on the corporate job, and said I will give it my all but, not let it drive all my intentions. – When Matt sent me the beat from the airplane, I went to the piano and wrote lyrics about feeling like everyone was catching their “plane”: graduating and starting their lives, while I was being left behind on the tarmac.
I think for so many people in our generation, especially ones that want to be in some artistic capacity, that is more than accessible. Hearing that makes me want to listen to your music and support you even more!
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📸 © Kate Biel lr
A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling
an EP by Magdalena Bay