INTRO BY KAT VISTI
INTERVIEW BY ANDREW PINTADO
Los Angeles trio Magic Giant have a very interesting story -- they describe their coming together as "fate." The trio consists of Austin Bisnow (lead vocalist), Zambricki Li (banjo, violin, and harmonica), and Zang (acoustic guitar and Cello). In the spring of 2016 the trio bought a shuttle bus and converted it into a solar-powered recording studio, which is where they recorded their debut album "In The Wind", creatively named since they recorded most of their album outside in the wind while traveling across the country for music festivals. After independently releasing their single entitled "Set on Fire" it charted at #4 on Spotify's US viral 50, it climbed into the top 25 on Billboard's US alternative chart, and it earned Magic Giant praise from Rolling Stone as one of ten artists to watch. We sat down the Magic Giant to chat about touring, festivals, and music!
How did you guys come up with the name for the band?
Zambricki: "Austin was watching a TED Talk by the visual artist Peter Tunney, and he was going through his whole life story and he said that as a kid he did magic. Then he talks about his mentor Jonas Salk who created the cure for Polio and all the things he did and painted this picture of him as this GIANT! And he showed a photo of the dude and he was just a normal dude wearing a suit. So, it was a compression of this entire TED Talk between him doing the magic and his mentor."
Austin: "And the fact that you don’t have to be big to be a giant."
What do you guys enjoy most about touring?
Zang: "I think what I like and it’s kind of strange, but the fact that we’re all together for so long, it actually makes us more productive. We can talk more, hang out more and do more music stuff. Whereas when we’re home and not touring it’s kind of like Zambricki is mowing his lawn or I’m doing the dishes and we don’t get to talk and we’re not really as involved. But being on tour we’re here and you can’t run away from it."
What’s your favorite city to perform in?
Zambricki: "We can’t say that man, that’s mean."
Austin: "A lot of cities have gone off this tour, like Chicago was nuts and then cities you wouldn’t necessarily expect. The underdogs you know. Spokane, Ann Arbor…"
Zang: "Yeah crazy towns!"
Austin: "…Fort Collins"
Zang: "Grass Valley! Random places go off."
Austin: "This East Coast region is definitely great!"
Zambricki: "I’d say my favorite grouping is like Boston, New York, Philly, D.C."
I’m assuming you have something similar on the West Coast?
Zambricki: "West Coast is more spread out."
Zang: "But still there’s LA, San Francisco, Seattle."
If you weren’t a part of Magic Giant or famous making music what do you think you’d be doing?
Zang: "Before this I was a software engineer."
Zambricki: "So, you’d go back to that?"
Zang: "I don’t think I’d go back, that could’ve been my life, but I think I’d just be a dancer. Then after that and all is said and done I want to do directing and direct movie and films."
Do you direct the music videos?
Zang: "We co-direct."
Zambricki: "We’ve been able to work with a lot of friends in Los Angeles, that kind of either work in it or want to work in it so a lot of times we’ll come up with an idea and they’ll kind of help us bring it to fruition."
For people who don’t know who Magic Giant is what would you tell them? How would you describe yourselves?
Austin: "Just a group of guys. The three amigos!"
Zambricki: "Our moms are friends. Just think about that sit on that, let it marinate."
What are some cool things you guys have done recently? I see you guys have been hanging out at Google, Vevo. A year ago, when I met you weren’t doing so much of that.
Zambricki: "We were doing it we just weren’t putting it on stories or anything. I feel like every time we come to NY we go in and it’ll be like a little luncheon."
Zang: "Yeah NY is special because all these huge companies have headquarters here. So we’ve done the Spotify luncheons, the Google luncheons, we’ve done Vevo and a ton. Last time we were here we did a Paste session with Paste Magazine."
Zambricki: "It’s great we love playing acoustic, people are on their break and we go in and play acoustic and turn it into a mini festival for 20 minutes and then everybody goes back to work."
Speaking of festivals, I see you guys made it to Coachella this year. That’s pretty big, how do you guys feel about that?
Zang: "It feels big! Growing up on the West Coast Coachella was always such a huge thing every year. All the kids would go."
I saw that, and I was like holy shoot! Finally!
Zang: "Yeah right? So, to finally be there it’s like WOOO! It feels exciting, I’m stoked!"
I know you didn’t want to answer what your favorite city is but what about favorite festival?
Zang: "One of them for me, there are a couple, I love Firefly in Delaware. That was an amazing festival. But probably my favorite so far was Electric Forest, in Michigan. It’s beautiful the way they set it up and how it’s designed and it’s in the middle of this deep dense forest. It’s such a different experience, it's not like other festivals where it’s like here’s a stage here’s a band. It’s in the woods! It’s more magical than it looks."
How do you guys stay so positive all the time? I know when it comes to social media people normally only post the good things, but it seems like you guys are always on a positive high! How do you guys always do it?
Austin: "I don’t think we do. And I do think that with social media people do focus on the positive. And not just with social media but just in general people want to share the positive people don’t get vulnerable with other people."
Zambricki: "It’s interesting though. There’s a tendency for people to put the bright stuff online. We had our bus break down at the beginning of this tour and it was interesting because at first we didn’t post about it and we were living out of a U-Haul for a hot minute and didn’t want to show people that. But then we’re like hey you might as well see the U-Haul and people like to see that too. People just want to see what’s real. There’s a point where tragedy becomes hilarious."
Zang: "Being sad aint gonna fix it so you might as well laugh at it."
Austin: "Yeah that’s huge, that could be the biggest thing. Just make the best of it."
What are some things you guys like to do on your downtime?
Zang: "For me specifically I’ll go salsa dancing at some random places. I might go dancing tonight after the show. I’ll go dancing usually in Europe because they’ve got really good dancing out there, so that’s what I’d do on my break time."
[To Austin:] I see you like to be around nature a lot.
Austin: "I feel like that puts my mind at ease, seeing trees, breathing fresh air and being in water too."
Zambricki: "Playing guitar, even being at my home studio or I have a garden area, so I’ll get into the gardening for a hot minute. Then we’ll go on tour and come back, and everything will have died. But just playing music in a non-show way is really cool. I love just playing music for the sake of the music. It doesn’t go anywhere or end up in anything."
What do you guys want your audience to take away from your music and your shows? What do you hope they take away from it?
Zang: "A lot of times when someone tells us that they got a smile after the show that they can’t get rid of and it just kind of lasts for days or a week or even a couple of hours. But I really love that. No matter how your day was or what happens, there’s certain things you can do in life. Like if you go sky diving your mind is clear and free of everything and your just in bliss for those moments. And I feel like our show has a similar thing where once you come in everything else is just gone out of your mind and you’re just there and you can feel it and be there and be happy. And once you leave you take that, live on that or it just might get you through the next hour or the next year. But I love that you can give that little drop of freedom."
Austin: "Someone told us about the show in Toronto that they had been having a bad week and woke up the next morning after our show and were so inspired and energized and that’s really cool."
Lastly can we expect anything new from you guys? What’s to come in the future?
Zambricki: "We’re going to do some more videos for this album. We’re going to do a video for ‘Hideaway’, ‘Celebrate the Reckless’."
Zang: "We actually recorded an acoustic album. Five songs from this album we might drop around the spring."
Zambricki: "We’ll probably end up doing another tour in the spring because when you drop a new album you gotta do a tour. We’ll be going to new places."