“The songs read more like spells”: Magana Premieres ‘Teeth,’ Her Witchy, Warm, & Wondering Sophomore LP

Magana © 2024
Magana © 2024
Brutally vulnerable and beautifully breathtaking, ‘Teeth’ is as visceral and raw as it is dramatically layered: Magana’s sophomore album is an uncompromisingly intimate and spiritual rock record reckoning with trauma, inner connection, the fragility of the human experience, and what it means to be alive.
Stream: ‘Teeth’ – Magana




It’s witchy rock because it’s dark and mystical and describes a healthy respect for nature… And because this record has spent time brewing, each song an ingredient hand picked from a variety of demos I had made.

We don’t get to choose if we win or lose,” Jeni Magaña sings sagely at a particularly heavy, heart-wrenching moment in her sophomore album. “Never gonna break, never gonna break free.” Mixing the fragility of the human experience with the sheer depth of her synthesizer and guitar tones, the LA-based artist crafts an all-consuming and achingly intense experience. It’s at once deeply in-body and dramatically out-of-body; “I feel it in my skin, I’m trapped inside me,” she later cries out – resigned, but no less impassioned, existing in a dual-state where clarity and catharsis exist, but still feel so far out of reach.

To listen to Magana’s Teeth is to feel the weight of the world pressing down, and humbly accept it with open arms. To dwell in her songs is to not just glimpse upon her innermost sanctum, but to start comprehending the fullness of life’s complexity and magic – the sweetness and joy of existence lying at one end of the spectrum, the pain and hurting and loss at the other end. Brutally vulnerable and beautifully breathtaking, Teeth is as visceral and raw as it is dense and dramatically layered: Magana’s second full-length album arrives in the guise of an uncompromisingly intimate and spiritual rock record reckoning with trauma, inner connection, and what it means to be alive.

It’s heavy and soft, bright and dark, unfiltered and unflinching: A whole world of emotion and sound ready to engulf the ears and stir the soul. This music is not for the faint of heart, but those who take the plunge are sure to come away with a deeper connection to themselves and their surroundings.

And that’s as good a reason as any to dive in headfirst to Jeni Magaña’s art.

Teeth - Magana
Teeth – Magana
Turns out all the stars were not enough to
Hold you to the earth, like gravity
In my heart I know that it is not you
Lying on the floor like you’re asleep
Paul, where did you go
When it was driving you insane
And I remember where I was
when they first told me

You took those pills to kill your pain
– “Paul,” Magana

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Teeth, Magana’s spellbinding sophomore album (out March 25th, 2024 via Audio Antihero / Colored Pencils). The moniker for singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Jeni Magaña – who, in addition to being one-half of the indie pop duo pen pin, has spent the last few years on the road as the bassist for Mitski and Lady Lamb – Magana is simultaneously soothing and unsettling. Her second full-length effort arrives four long years after 2020’s debut album You Are Not a Morning Person, and highlights Magaña’s evolution – as a person, and as a musician – over that time period.

Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist
Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist

“I recorded this during lockdown in the pandemic. The world started to look strange to me, as if I was an alien plopped down in the middle of Los Angeles but with all these human feelings,” she tells Atwood Magazine. “I wanted this album to reflect that not only in the lyrics but in the soundscapes as well. I wanted it to sound like earth and space at the same time, so I arranged acoustic guitars, strings, and winds to weave in and out of synth lines and electric guitar solos.”

Yet for all the “otherworldliness” Magana packed into Teeth, her record is hauntingly human: The more she explores and experiments, the closer she delves into her own identity – unpacking trauma, processing moments past and present, and in essence coming to terms, slowly but surely, with who she is today.

Born out of meditations and synth experiments, Teeth is a self-described ‘witchy rock’ record “because it’s dark and mystical and describes a healthy respect for nature. Because the songs read more like spells than traditional song structures. And because this record has spent time brewing, each song an ingredient hand picked from a variety of demos I had made.”

“And now it is being released into the world, and I am letting go of my control of this record, just in time for the full moon.”

Magana © Andi Taylor
Magana © Andi Taylor

Magaña has certainly put a spell on us, and we’re better for it. There’s lots to love and embrace, to internalize and hold tight throughout Teeth‘s enchanting, immersive fourteen-track run. Breaking out of genre boxes, subverting expectations, and sending near-constant shivers down the spine, Magana’s album is a cathartic release for artist and audience alike – and one that begs for repeat listens, further revealing itself and its secrets the more we soak in its world.

Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Magana’s Teeth with Atwood Magazine as Jeni Magaña takes us through the music and lyrics of her sophomore album! Teeth is out everywhere March 25th, 2024 – a date specially chosen to coincide with the Worm Moon’s peak illumination.

— —

:: stream/purchase Teeth here ::
:: connect with Magana here ::
Stream: ‘Teeth’ – Magana



Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist
Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist

A CONVERSATION WITH MAGANA

Teeth - Magana

Atwood Magazine: Jeni, congratulations on the release of Teeth! What does it feel like to finally have your sophomore album (almost) out in the world?

Magana: Thank you! It is a special kind of feeling to have something that you made and love come out into the world. It’s amazing and terrible to feel this sort of vulnerability, but it’s like getting tattoos. You do it once and then it’s sort of addictive.

This record arrives four long years after your debut album, You Are Not a Morning Person. How did making a second record compare to making the first?

Magana: You Are Not a Morning Person was a band record, and was much more collaborative. The arrangements were worked out from playing live, and we tracked the basics for it live together.

Teeth is a more contemplative exploration, and was mostly done by myself in the back office of my house. I wasn’t using a studio, so there were no time limits. I took space from songs for days or weeks and then came back with a new idea. I think of it more like standing alone in a misty forest vs. setting up camp together.

And are you still not a morning person, or has that changed? What time is it ok to get up, for you?

Magana: I love mornings! I generally don’t have to be up at any certain time when I’m not on tour, and I so deeply love just waking up whenever my body has decided is the right time. It changes when touring because of the time zone shifts, but in LA I have an alarm set for 8:30 AM and most often am awake sometime before then. This luxury is for sure because when I’m not touring I have a pretty loose schedule and can go to sleep whenever I want.

What’s your relationship with that first album like now, all these years later? Have those songs grown on you, and did they in any way inform the songs you wrote this time around?

Magana: I just went back a few days ago and listened to my previous music during a very long drive. And honestly, I like it more with the distance I’ve had than I did before. It’s more like I’m listening to a stranger, which helps me appreciate parts of the recording rather than regret whatever wasn’t perfect about it.

I think it’s funny that I didn’t realize before how much I loved writing soundscapes and ambient tracks, because the opening song of You Are Not a Morning Person is an instrumental that includes found sounds layered over woodwinds. I am the same, and I am in a new place now sonically but it is still the same trail, and I can look back and see how they are connected.

You've described this record as “witchy rock” – a description I absolutely love, by the way! Can you share a bit about what that means, to you?

Magana: Thank you! It’s witchy rock because it’s dark and mystical and describes a healthy respect for nature. Because the songs read more like spells than traditional song structures. And because this record has spent time brewing, each song an ingredient hand picked from a variety of demos I had made. And now it is being released into the world, and I am letting go of my control of this record, just in time for the full moon.

You’ve also said that Teeth is about “regrowth and a new view on the world.” Where were you growing from, and how would you describe this fresh newfound perspective?

Magana: I would describe this newfound perspective as wondering presence. A few people close to me have stopped smoking cigarettes, and they describe the world as full of smells that they hadn’t noticed before. They were so curious if the lemon tree out front has always spelled so fresh. I think of wondering presence like that: A newfound appreciation for the vibrance that has always existed. This is mostly prevalent in nature, where there is constant change, death and regrowth.

I didn’t always have the time to watch the daily changes in basil, or grow flowers from seeds, or propagate a new plant from a stem. And spending the time in COVID lockdown really changed that. But also, a small road near my home was torn up by driving on it, then someone came and patched the holes. Then other holes formed from where people were driving to avoid the freshly patched asphalt. This change and regrowth is happening everywhere.

Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist
Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist



To that end, why the title “Teeth”?

Magana: Teeth is a reference to the line in one of the songs that says, “Truth was hiding behind all of your teeth, smiling back at me with endless eyes.” 

There are a lot of things that I don’t just say because it doesn’t mix well with polite company. As if when we smile, our teeth are the barrier holding back our darkest thoughts. But these truths that we bite back in order to be palatable to society still need a place to go.

I’m utterly enchanted by the opening songs “Garden” and “Beside You” – they’re a magical pair, and they absolutely set the tone for what’s to come. Can you share a bit about these two and why they start the record?

Magana: That’s great to hear! “Garden” is a meditation on my relationship to myself. “Beside You” is a meditation on my relationship to someone else as they contemplate their relationship to themselves. The songs speak to similar themes, but do so in different ways. The garden represents our mental health, tending it and watching it grow and change. “Beside You” is more of a letter to a loved one, and I think the order of these is important because it’s difficult to fully love someone else until we have done the work to learn to love ourselves.

Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist
Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist



When we smile, our teeth are the barrier holding back our darkest thoughts… But these truths that we bite back in order to be palatable to society still need a place to go.

The single “Paul” is absolutely beautiful. The instrumental harmonies are gentle and sweet, the vocals light and warm, and the entire song is utterly disarming. What’s the story behind this track?

Magana: “Paul” is a song that was put together by timing. One morning I was noodling around with a guitar part. I put it down to go meet a friend for coffee and to catch up, but she had recently learned of her dear friend’s death and was processing everything.

We spent a long time talking about everything she was feeling, and then I went back to where I was staying. The guitar was still on the bed, and I picked it up and continued playing the part I had come up with. I couldn’t get her words out of my head, and the guitar and the words started just becoming one thing. Luckily, she isn’t offended that I took her story and filtered it through myself and put it out on a record. I think it sort of memorializes how it felt at the time.



Your latest single, “Break Free,” is equally hypnotizing: I love the contrast between this heavier song and some of the others on the record, that are so much lighter – it creates a visceral experience that, to me, is one of this record’s defining features. What was the process of making this song like?

Magana: I love talking about this because it embodies the ethos that I’m currently trying to live by. This song was pure exploration. I started with just a bass synth oscillating between the two chords. I added flute and thought it was just a cute little loop. It sat like that for a bit, and then I copied and pasted it a few times to try and put a melody on it.

Then I thought about how it felt like it was literally stuck in a loop, which sort of inspired the lyrics for the song. I added the intro and outro and then realized it still wasn’t enough and so I expanded it to add a guitar solo. It felt to me a little bit like finally breaking out, which seemed important to have.

The whole record more or less was put together like this: A small idea, and a lot of ideas added and taken away.

You've mentioned meditations and synth experiments as being two of the driving forces behind these songs; I can definitely hear the synth influences throughout! Can you share a bit about those “synth experiments” and what exactly that looked like, and what drove you to play around more with synths this time around?

Magana: I was basically learning how to create sounds and trying to find out where the sounds might be most useful. I sometimes took a song that existed and added synth to it, and sometimes created an idea for a song starting with the sound. I love the feeling of being a beginner because every path seems open at the start. So in many ways the sound I came up with defined what the song would sound like.

I felt like there were endless ways to make sound, and then even more ways to process that sound, so I was just writing constantly. It was so much of me just being like “does it work if I do this?” which caused me to make choices I wouldn’t have even considered previously.

The album certainly sounds like earth and space at the same time; how do you feel it reintroduces you and captures your artistry?

Magana: I’m so proud of this album because it sounds the most like me. It feels like a perfect representation of the period of time in which I made it.

Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist
Jeni Magaña © courtesy of the artist



Do you have any definitive favorite songs or lyrical highlights off this record?

Magana: They are all my children and I love them equally, but I was most excited that “Afraid of Everybody” was on this record. That was a rare one where the idea for the lyrics and the chords came almost entirely intact at the same time the arrangement played out in my mind. There wasn’t really any guesswork for that, it just felt like that was the song and that was going to be how it sounded and we’re done here.

Was I too quick to lie
Am I too honest
You can tell when I think I’m right
You can tell when I want it
Did I not say enough
About how I felt
But how do you fall in love
When you don’t love yourself
And I’m afraid of everybody
Maybe they’re making fun of me
Maybe they’re laughing secretly
And I’m ashamed of my own body
My legs are made for different things
And so I’m falling constantly
Oh I don’t belong
Did God build me wrong?



A little fun one before we head out… Can you describe this record in three words?

Magana: Contemplating otherworldly life.

Have recent years post-pandemic height found you making lighter music again, or do you think you might hang out in this heavier arena awhile longer?

Magana: We contain multitudes. I’ll probably always make music like this, and I also have been experimenting with a lighter approach in a band with my friend Emily Moore.

It’s called Pen Pin, and we’re working on a record to be out later in the year. I don’t believe any one of us are limited in our approach or tastes or genres! And I hope to be able to expand in many directions at once.

PALM DESERT’S PEN PIN DWELL IN SUN-SOAKED DOLDRUMS ON “THE BOREDOM”

:: REVIEW ::

Finally, what do you hope listeners take away from Teeth, and what have you taken away from creating it and now putting it out?

Magana: I hope that listeners find something to keep them company in this album. And maybe listening to how weird I think the world is helps someone shift their perspective for a minute and realize that it really is vibrant and weird and crazy and we really do contain multitudes. That would be great.

Creating this music has enabled me to take the slow quiet steps that I needed to find my own voice, and therefore give voice to some of the things I can’t find the ways to say out loud. Releasing it at full moon will be the final step in this dance. Letting it go.

In the interest of paying it forward, who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?“]

Magana: If you haven’t heard of Katie Von Schleicher, I’d recommend heading over to her page now and giving her a listen. She just put out a new record and it’s delightful.

Also, Max Blansjaar is in the process of putting out his record (that Katie produced!) and it’s very cool.

— —

:: stream/purchase Teeth here ::
:: connect with Magana here ::
Stream: ‘Teeth’ – Magana



— — — —

Teeth - Magana

Connect to Magana on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © courtesy of the artist

:: Stream Magana ::



More from Mitch Mosk
Exclusive Premiere: Watching for Foxes’ Fresh Start and Raw Wounds on “Prelude”
Recommended If You Like: Of Monsters and Men, Animal Years, Bear’s Den, Blind...
Read More