Following the release of her debut EP ‘Golden Tongue’, we caught up with Magana.
Hailing from Brooklyn, the indie pop artist was classically trained in Upright Bass and Clarinet as a child and taught to sing by a pastor’s wife.
Jeni Magana then moved to Boston to attend Berklee College where she began playing with a few bands and it was here that her musical journey truly began.
From session work to touring with bands, her career was well on its way and after settling in New York City, Magana began focusing on her solo steps.
Music was a huge part of your life from a young age and since then you’ve performed session work and in various bands, how did you go about the process of finding your unique solo sound?
It was a journey, for sure. Playing in a lot of other music groups helped me to define my musical taste, because I could hear where I wanted their music to go so clearly. It also moved me to want to write my own songs. Playing with other musicians is cool because it gives you an intimate look at their music and their thought process. I got to work with a lot of singer-songwriters and they were always considering the way the song was written when we were arranging it so I was able to peek into the minds of songwriters. I also meet a lot of cool people doing session work and learn about their musical influences, which has pointed me in some really cool directions.
For those who haven’t discovered your music, how would you best describe it?
Man, I’ve been talking about this a lot recently. I usually say something random like “emotional indie rock played in a graveyard”.
You’ve recently released your ‘Golden Tongue’ EP, how did you go about the writing process for this?
This EP was a fun way to experiment with my solo sound. I decided to record the EP right when I had made the decision to be a solo artist, and so the four songs are a mix of old and new work. I had written two of the songs a long time ago, but I felt like I needed to revisit them because they never sounded like they did in my mind and I felt like I didn’t give them a chance. The other two were relatively new and felt a little bit more like a blank canvas. The ‘Golden Tongue’ EP ended up being a cool way for me to bridge the gap between music from my past and the direction that I think I’m heading.
Were there any artists in particular that you looked to for inspiration for the release?
Yeah, definitely. I was really drawn to a lot of the instrumental style of Feist’s record ‘Metals’ and I think you can hear a lot of that influence on the songs.
Which track from the EP are you personally favouring at the moment?
I think I still am partial to ‘Get It Right’. I’m really proud of the production on that one. It’s actually sort of hard for me to listen to the EP right now. I totally love the EP, but I spent so long listening to it while it was being recorded, mixed, and mastered. Once that was all done I spent more time listening to it by myself, just seeing how I felt about it. And now it’s finally out in the world and it’s so gratifying to hear that other people are listening to it. I feel like my time alone with the EP is over and now it’s meant for everyone else.
Do you have any plans in the pipeline for a UK tour?
Haha, I do have plans but they’re currently all in my mind! I’m just starting to consider touring so I decided to start with trips that are close to home while I try to figure some things out. Tours are pretty complicated to figure out without support, so it’ll take a little bit of time to plan. However, I know that all I need is one excuse to make it over there so I’m getting all my ducks in a row so that I can take that opportunity when it comes.
What has been your highlights of 2016?
My birthday is in January and I took a trip to Mexico with some close friends to celebrate, which was the best idea ever. While I was there I had the realisation that I really wanted to be making my own music and I was letting all sorts of simple roadblocks stop me from doing that. This entire year has been focused on me making that happen. Releasing this EP felt like the reward for all of the work I’ve been putting in this year, which is so amazing. 2016 has been good to me.
Anything else you wish to add?
I had a lot of help from my friends on this release and I feel like I should thank them whenever possible. My friend JJ Byars wrote and played the sax parts on ‘Get It Right’ and also played live with Marc Plotkin for my release show. Both of those dudes are super rad. Shay Spence played bass on two tracks for ‘Golden Tongue’ and also live and is pretty much the best person ever. She offered musical talent but also invaluable self-esteem boosts when I needed them most. The record wouldn’t exist at all without Jonathan Smith. He and Jeff Fettig opened up their studios to me. Jon tracked everything, helped me with production, played drums, mixed the record and even came with me to the mastering sessions. What a guy. And lastly, Jamie Halliday from Audio Antihero put out the record, and if he didn’t, you probably wouldn’t have ever heard it.