The Magician and Bobby Nourmand talk tastemaking, Magic Tapes, and the release of ‘Smokin Joe’
The Magician’s Magic Tapes may be the first example of an artist building their brand solely on taste-making alone through SoundCloud mixtapes. After 58 iterations the monthly series has developed a cult following and a fanbase that rivals that of the biggest hit-making DJs. Month after month the Magic Tapes showcase some of the most exciting new music in the electronic scene, regardless of genre or label support. Much of the “magic” is in the mystery of the Tapes’ tracklists and the guessing games that inevitably follow.
The latest mystery conjured up by the talented tastemaker was in the form of a psychedelic house track that caught fire on Magic Tape 55. After months of guesswork, Bobby Nourmand’s “Smoking Joe” is now being released on The Magician’s own label POTION. We sat down with the Belgian tastemaker and LA’s own Bobby Nourmand to discuss the process between selecting tracks for the Magic Tapes and how the pair came to work together on one of the most exciting releases of early 2016.
What inspired you to create The Magician and The Magic Tapes project?
My girlfriend had the idea, she thinks I have magical powers! She created the character and still works with me and my art now.
I’ve been a DJ for many years and I always look to find tracks that nobody has heard. I like to be the first to play a track because it’s like a game, a challenge.
‘Magic Tape’ is 2 words, Tape (which means mixtape) and Magic which means a magical selection because I never reveal the tracklist.
You’ve done 58 Magic Tapes — did you ever expect the series to take off in the way that it did?
When I released Magic Tape 01 I knew there would be a Magic Tape out every month but of course I didn’t expect the impact of it.
I still make each Magic Tape like it is the first one, like a challenge! I like to see people’s reactions on each track and then see the artist reaction to people’s reaction.
As a DJ/producer do you believe that tastemaking and set curation is as important as producing? What is your process like?
It’s very important because it gives me inspiration. I know tons of great people of the studio or musicians, they can play everything but have no taste and that’s a shame. I’m not a great producer but I have taste and ideas. I do my best to finish a track but I sometimes send it to another to add some final elements or make the mixdown. I learnt it’s good to get another pair of ears on your music and especially a fresh pair because when you are ready to mix a track, you ears are not fresh anymore cause you heard the track more than 100 times already.
Where do you go to find new music? How do you select what makes it into each Magic Tape?
I used to go to the record shop every week to find new music and get the limited edition record. Nowadays new music comes more to me. I receive tons of promos to be featured in a Magic Tape. Friends, Producers, Managers, Label A&R, Promo managers send me music. I still check sometimes blogs or tastemakers like Annie Mac & Pete Tong.
The selection is about 10 to 12 tracks I like out of the 400 I receive every month, they are mostly unreleased and it’s music I received within a month. Then I have to mix them well together.
At the end of 2014 I decided to start my own imprint POTION. I release my stuff but also other music I like. I usually put an upcoming POTION track in the Magic Tape, I like to see reactions on tracks and I love to see « That track is not even on Shazam, fuuuuck !!! »
“Smokin Joe” is easily the biggest release of your career — was there a moment when you were producing the track that you realized you had a hit on your hands?
Thanks for the compliment. I felt like it could be big very early on. The magic for that entire project was obvious from start-to-finish. It all began in LA. Some coffee, a guitar, Ableton, a note pad, and a dear friend of mine, RD. From there, I sent it over to the A&R as just a basic sketch of what the song is today. It caught their attention and I knew it at that moment. Then, after countless hours of writing melodies, arranging the vox, mixing the track (which took forever), and not eating during any of it, the track still hit me the same way. It never gets old.
Then, hearing it on Magic Tape 55, I was shocked. Then, seeing it supported by countless superstars it started to ring more true – well, actually writing this all is making me realize this even more now. It all still feels like a dream to me. Thank you to this entire team.
Your sound lives in an interesting space where traditional deep house and pop-accessibility work hand in hand — how has it evolved and where do you draw influences from?
My parents. I’ve been a music head since I was a newborn dancing in the crib, ha. Either to my mother’s upbeat records or my father’s rock n roll tapes – it all stems from there. The dance stuff comes from my mother and the edgy darker stuff comes from my father. She went to Studio 54 and he went to Woodstock.
Lately, I’ve been especially connected to the 60’s rock and late 80’s new wave – I don’t know. It’s just whatever I feel. There’s never an objective before I open a session. It’s all a reflection of what I’m feeling at the moment. Extreme emotion which I cannot explain via anything but music – catharsis.
How would you describe your sound/style?
Timeless, classic, psychedelic. My past several releases have been rock driven. Dark, airy soundscapes. Obscure pads. Haunting vocals. Prominent melodies and beating basslines.
What’s next on your agenda?
I have a lot of finished music and ideas for new singles that that will be coming out. Also, if you’re in LA, you can catch me live with The Magician and The Aston shuffle at the Potion showcase at Exchange, on February 26th.