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Artist Spotlight: Magic Giant

Magic Giant Photo
Courtesy of Brantley Gutierrez

Los Angeles-based indie folk band Magic Giant recently released a video for the second single “Window” off of their debut album “In the Wind.” The Crimson spoke with frontman Austin P. Bisnow about the band’s beginnings, message, and future.

The Harvard Crimson: What’s the “Magic Giant” origin story? Additionally, was there a moment when you guys were playing together and it all clicked?

Austin P. Bisnow: So, [multi-instrumentalist] Zambricki [Li] and I coincidentally both moved to Los Angeles in 2011, and we both coincidentally had the dream to start a band. We were both doing separate things in music, but not performing really. We both had the same New Year’s Resolution [to start performing]. I was trying to jam with everyone I could to try to manifest this New Year’s Resolution, getting intros, meeting people.

I was really drawn to folk music at the time—kinda like an influx of folk came into my life. I was asking my friends, “Hey, do you know any banjo players, any fiddle players, anyone who can play the mandolin?” One guy told me he knows someone that can do them all. He introduced us and the rest is history for me and Zambricki.

So, Zambricki and I went on hiatus. We were doing our own things again. Our old band was very poppy, just for fun, very part-time. And someone who had seen one of those early shows hit me up and asked if we wanted to play the “Sweet Life” festival in D.C. I instinctively said, “Yes!” and I called Zambricki and said “We’re getting the band back together!” Shortly after, we met Zang playing at a club. Afterwards we looked him up and saw some videos of him salsa dancing. That was really the catalyst.

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Magic Giant Photo

Magic Giant Photo

The first show we ever played as Magic Giant I knew we had something special. Just by word of mouth, the first show was sold-out with a hundred people who couldn’t get in. No one expected that. There was a moment on stage where I cried because so many people were showering us with love singing our music. I think the pivotal moment for us was [multi-instrumentalist] Zang joining because he balances Zambricki and me in such a seamless way. It was like the puzzle clicked together.

THC: What are the main emotions you channel when you’re performing your music, and overall what sort of experience do you want for someone at a Magic Giant concert?

APB: If I had to give one word it would be “joy,” or maybe “catharsis.” Really, just releasing whatever you need and winding up at a place of joy and fulfilment. Something that can touch people, that they can take with them and pass on, pay it forward.

Another huge theme in our music is the power of the human will. We’re not just happy for happy’s sake. It’s intentional that we know the world is crazy and there are really hard, horrible things happening. Yeah, life is tough, but we can either stay in that place, or either have an outlook or do something to brighten it just the littlest bit.

THC: The song and the video for “Window,” your new single, really speaks to that.

APB: Yeah, totally. The whole concept of the “Window” video is loosely inspired by Rapunzel. A girl got in a fight with her dad and we try to go save the day. And the keyword there is “try,” because there are all these little challenges for us to even get there and make it to her physically, mentally, and emotionally to try and brighten her day. That’s our goal.

THC: What artists have had an influence on you and the music of Magic Giant?

APB: Bruce Springsteen has been a big one for us just for his live show energy and longevity of career. Queen, for their fearlessness to do the craziest productions in a modern style, in a digestible way that can get to the masses, and in taking turns that you can never see coming.

THC: What can fans expect from Magic Giant in the future?

APB: Woo! We just announced a tour going from Jan. 23 until March. I hope we’re coming back to Europe this spring and summer. We’re gonna be playing a bunch of festivals, and probably be releasing some more videos. We’re working on a documentary for the making of our album “In the Wind,” just a little short something. This winter tour is really exciting, and we’re calling it “The Magic Misfits Tour.” We’re coming to Boston on Feb. 16 at Brighton Music Hall.

—Staff writer Raj Karan S. Gambhir can be reached at raj.gambhir@thecrimson.com.

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