magdalena bay interview: inspirations and on their unique sound

words by emily richardson and ashleigh tain

from grimes to charli xcx, northeasterners magdalena bay are taking the pop scene by storm with their spacey, futuristic sound that resonates the best of the 80s without ignoring the current technology-based sound. here's mica and matthew.


First of all, how are you doing?

Mica: We are doing great.

Matthew: I just woke up.

Any plans for the rest of the weekend?

Mica: We’re going to an art museum here in Philly.. Matt’s over there in Boston, I don’t know what he’s up to.

Matthew: Yeah, I think we’re gonna try barbecuing for the first time since winter

So what do you think is the story behind “Waking Up” in terms of lyrics and production? Also, did this track come to you easily, or did it take a while to manifest.

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Mica: I think “Waking Up” kinda started with the chorus, chords, and chord progression, and it sounded really uplifting, in a way, hopeful, and a little bit wistful. And I think this kind of drove the lyrics and I’m sure Matt can speak to the production more than I can.

Matthew: Um, yeah. I mean, when we were writing it, we were in New York together over the summer and I’m trying to remember exactly, but it was quite a while ago we were working on it and we’ve been sitting on it for a while.

Mica: Yeah, it was July, I think. So it’s a bit hazy.

Matthew: One thing that I remember is that it was written and produced for the most part, and I remember not being happy with how the chorus was sounding for a while and then I realized that all it needed was like the sixth bass. So I added it in and I was like ‘oh, now it’s done’.

So something that I noticed, and I just love, about your album cover is your 80’s space aesthetic, so what would you say inspired this style?

Mica: I don’t know, we never really had a conversation about it, you know? But it just kind of happened. When we started we wanted to have a strong aesthetic voice and I kind of made the earlier graphics and I still work with that content and stuff with some other photographers. I think it’s just about the things that we like. You know, we love sci fi and we love really theatrical pop acts, so it’s kind of bringing those things that we love together.

Matthew: You know I was just thinking, it might have started because the first cover we did was Tears for Fears and I wonder if that directed that.

Mica: Yeah, that kind of put us on our retro path.

On the same note, do you think that having some sort of aesthetic and style is important in today’s age of music?

Mica: I definitely think so. I think it just makes it fun honestly because pop is such a cool genre because it kind of brings together different art forms because the visuals work to enhance the world that the music is creating and that’s awesome.

How would you describe how your sound has evolved from the beginning? Or has this cool 80’s futuristic vibe something you’ve been set on from the start?

Matthew: Yeah, definitely not. I mean when we started, we had no idea what we were doing, we were just saying that we wanted to make pop music so we just tried that out.

Mica: We’ve never done it before…

Matthew: Yeah it has basically evolved since we figured out what we want and like and what works for us.

Mica: And as we found influences too. We didn’t have many when we started

Matthew: Yeah, because I haven’t really listened to pop music until Magdelena Bay started. That was the first time I actually started listening to pop music.

Mica: Like Carly Rae … and Charlie XCX, which are in like my huge influences that we didn’t even know until we started working

I was about to ask, who are your inspirations and influences?

Mica: I think Grimes kind of inspired us to even make this project, because we were in this progressive rock band in high school. We were a little bit pretentious as teens, I would say. We hated pop and anything that wasn’t in seven/eight time signature. But, then we heard Grimes’ Art Angels and were like ‘oh my god, this is so cool’ and ‘this introduction is so sick’, ‘this writing is crazy’. So that album was big for us.

What can we expect from you in the near, or far, future?

Matthew: More music.

Mica: Yeah. More music. We have a ton of stuff written and yeah we’re just looking to live in the same place soon. Eventually do some more gigs around Philly, but it’ll be exciting to do that more regularly. We’re looking forward to working with artists. Really cool photos, cover art, videos, just more of everything. It’s gonna be great.

listen to magdalena bay now on spotify.