Music is a part of the human experience and has been around longer than we probably know. For Will Magid, the producer and multi-instrumentalist behind the brass and bass-heavy fusion stylings of Balkan Bump, understanding where music comes from and what it means to those who made it is what molds the core of his curiosity.
Magid grew up in Palo Alto, California, and now calls Oakland home. In 2020 Magid released his first album, "Osmanity," along with a remix version of the album the following year. While currently out on his Desert Drip Tour, I caught up with Magid on the phone to ask a few questions before his show in Bend on Dec. 2. Read our Q&A below.
Source Weekly: Growing up, when did you first find yourself gravitating toward music?
Balkan Bump: My grandmothers on both sides were pianists. As a little kid I just remember sitting on their laps, like picking up melodies. And my cousin was a music educator in the Bay Area and she would always give me piano lessons and cool CDs. Both my parents are both hobbyist musicians, too. It was something I grew up around and I was fortunate enough to grow up in a city and a time period where music education was a real thing.
SW: Then you took it a step further and went on to study Ethnomusicology at the University of California-Los Angeles. What was that experience like and how do those studies affect you in the present day?
BB: You can look at it like the anthropology of music, how humans have evolved with music. On one hand it really widened the type of music I was exposed to. But it also really deepened my intellectual curiosity to dive deeper and ask more questions. A lot of times the thing you're enjoying as entertainment is actually a really specific or important piece of music. One of the perspectives I got from this is to always try and understand the context of where these sounds are coming from.
SW: I saw that last year you released an interactive NFT (non-fungible token) on SuperRare. Do you see yourself operating in that space more in the future?
BB: Totally! That was the first NFT project I did. After which I did a project called NFTrees, which was a very carbon-neutral NFT project that was on the Polygon network. Putting an NFT out on SuperRare was pretty carbon intensive at that time. After that project I was kind of figuring out how to do it in a more environmentally friendly way. I used all the sales from NFTrees to plant trees on my first big tour last year. The next project I do would be more social in nature and more in line with where I'd like to see the medium go.
SW: What's your process when you start making a song? Do you start just messing around with sounds or do you become inspired by a theme first?
BB: It differs from song to song. But normally things start with a voice memo of sorts. A classic thing for me is I go to a concert and I leave super inspired. Walking to my car or something, trying to recall something I heard and I make a recording. Then I meditate on it for a while and it evolves from there. Music is so similar to language in that way. You hear something and it draws you in and you have a conversation with that.
SW: How does it feel to know music is giving you these opportunities to travel around?
BB: It's pretty remarkable. I feel really fortunate, you know, that people are receiving the music well enough to invite us back and want us to come to their towns. We came to Bend the first time opening for Beats Antique, and we had such a great time. We're just thrilled the promoter wanted us to come back. It's been cool to see the project grow. It's a lot of hard work. We're always rehearsing and studying music. Just trying to up our game. But hard work in this industry isn't enough. We're just lucky right now that there's enough people that are inviting us back and liking our music.