Though I suppose we can stop mentioning how “The internet changed and shrank the world,” the internet changed, and shrank, the world. 2-piece indie outfit Eric & Magill (Eric Osterman and Ryan Weber) are located in Kenya and Brooklyn, respectively, and if the creation of their music over such an incredible distance isn’t testament to just how small our world has become thanks to advances in technology, I doubt anything I say will change your mind on the matter
Both highly accomplished musicians on their own (Ryan was in The Promise Ring… Know ‘em?), Eric and Magill’s second full-length album, Night Singers, drops TODAY, July 23rd, via Ten Atom in the US and Luau in the UK. Make sure to check out “Baggage and Clothes,” courtesy of PureVolume, and also listen to the beautifully written “Calendars” via their webpage. I’m really digging it!
I caught up with Ryan Weber via email to talk about their latest release, their travels, and whether or not these two will be less than a half a world apart to play some shows in the future.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! If you could, please introduce yourselves for our readers, and tell us where exactly you guys are and what you’re doing!
R- I’m currently wrapping up a two-year tour with the Peace Corps where I’ve been working on water infrastructure projects in a very remote region of Kenya called West Pokot. In between work I live in a tiny cottage on a mountain overlooking the vast semi-arid plane where I write music, drink too much instant coffee, do laundry by hand, and slaughter my own chickens for dinner.
G- You are just about to release your second full-length, Night Singers, and I am very impressed with the flow of the songs I’ve heard so far! How has the overall reception been to the new songs you’ve placed on your Bandcamp, and have you noticed any fan favorites off of the record?
R- Reception so far has been great! We’ve put up two tracks in advance of the release, Baggage and Clothes and Calendars. I think the tracks are somewhat representative of the diversity that can be found on the Night Singers.
G- Can you tell us about the recording process for the album? Where did you record it, who was behind the boards this time around, and how long did the release take to record and get ready for release?
R- Well we get a lot of people who collaborate at a distance who record their parts on their own so where and how varies from track to track and part to part. For example Emma Pollack (The Delgados) was kind enough to sing on the track “We’re the Ghosts.” She has her own studio (Chemikal Studios in Glasgow) and presumably was able to record there. Other people have just recorded with the internal mic on their laptops. On our last full length I had the honor of getting a guy called “The Idaho Yodeler” to phone in his yodeling track.
I do the compiling of other people’s tracks, mixing and mastering “in the box” or with no outboard gear. This allows me to be mobile and do what I love wherever I am, plus I’m a computer nerd. For me, I have a very modest set up in Kenya-USB device and a mic and that’s it. My reference speakers are probably the world’s worst speakers, which I bartered for in the local market. Power is usually out even if I wanted to use them so I generally stick with headphones.
It can be time consuming waiting for tracks to come in and whenever I get them this invariably changes the mix and song. So it’s a rather organic process that is exciting to hear come together. Eric and I bounce ideas off each about structure or composition and it eventually comes together.
G- I can only imagine that the distance between you two is a constant hardship, especially when it comes to performances. Will Eric & Magill be setting off on any tours or one-off performances in the near future? If so, where and when?
R- This will be quite a feat. In the course of the band’s 5-year history I think we’ve actually been face to face maybe 5 times. It’s now been over two years since we’ve seen each other last. I’d like to think at some point we’ll be able to do acoustic versions of the songs together, but it might be a ways away that we’re able to get a full band together, although theoretically we’ve got a live band formed.
G- Can you give us a few examples of any bands or artists in particular that influence your style? Who do you typically like to listen to, and are there any acts you think we should know about?
R- I listen to music across the board. I got a bit into Taarab or coast style music here in Kenya. I like finding new bands that I think are inspiring and try to work with them. I think that is one of my favorite parts about this project, meeting new people and collaborating with them. There are so many amazing artists that I’ve had the pleasure of getting tracks from. I need to make a list with links on our website, because it has to be easily over a hundred at this point and in my opinion they are all amazing.
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
R- I think one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written is Should We All Wake Up. I think it has a simple sentiment and words, but a lot of people seem to relate. Our songs are, if not stylistically diverse, dynamically, so to get into us it’s best to absorb a variety of songs. I not only like to write songs, but also records. I like to put mellow and upbeat songs together to prevent listener fatigue and let the record just breath in spots.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
R- Back in the day Eric and I were on tour with Camden playing some shit-hole somewhere in Northern Florida in the middle of summer. Since we played first and rather early we didn’t know we somehow had gotten put on some white supremist/neo-nazi gig. Our drummer and Eric & Magill contributor Biju, is not of the Caucusian persuasion and none of us exactly looked like we belong at this place nor was our brand of shoegaze with a dude sing falsetto really the sound de-jour. As more people started filtering into this bar it became apparent we needed to get the fuck out. We cut our set short, and loaded our gear out the back as people were threatening us. Somehow we grabbed our 40-dollar guarantee while our ears were tortured by shitty hate-rock and idiot’s threats. On the way out in the excitement we accidentally smashed our van into some pickup truck with a rebel flag on it. We kept going. That night we slept in the van in like 120-degree weather at a highway rest stop. Camden played a lot of amazing shows in our short history. That one had to have been one of the shittiest, but memorable.
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
R- 1. Get matching outfits (at least jackets)
2. Bringing your girlfriends on tour will be totally fine
3. Appointing that one dude that likes to hang out with the band as manager and chief of finances is probably a smart move