D//E Interviews: Magnetic Skies

Magnetic Skies have steadily gained attention in the synthpop world as a very vibrant new voice with a lot to offer thanks to their impressive run of singles so far. In an interview with D//E, the band's frontman, Simon Kent, talks about the band's sound, creative thinking and more.

There are many eighties synthpop and new wave influences in Magnetic Skies' music, it seems. What about this musical genre most intrigues you? 

I've always been drawn to keyboards and synthesizers. When I was growing up guitars were everywhere, it was like the go-to. Synthesizers were somehow not 'real' instruments. But not for me. Even with that Britpop thing, I loved The Charlatans, they had the keyboards right up at the front. And I had been taught basic piano, so it was an instrument I could get to grips with. I was also massively influenced by Bowie, and especially the eerie, cold landscapes on Low and Heroes - I'm talking about the Eno collaboration bits like Warszawa, Subterraneans, Sense Of Doubt, Moss Garden. And I think following that through into Japan, Simple Minds and all this amazing creative post punk that was around in the late seventies/early eighties. It's where it feels like bands were allowed to experiment and find their sound. So, yes, that era is just really rich with great stuff. And these bands opened the door for acts like Depeche Mode, which is really where it all started for me with Violator.  

How do you manage to successfully distinguish your sound apart from that of your influences? 

Well, there is always an honesty at the core of the song that is the necessary element to bring it to life, so lyrically the songs are from the heart and from a unique perspective. On top of that, we're not trying to copy those influences, we're using them as a starting point and palette to create something that belongs to us.

What would you say the dynamics of the band are like live? 

We try really hard to bring an energy and intensity to the live shows. I would be disappointed to walk off stage and feel like I hadn't given my best to people who have invested their time in coming to see us. We want to create songs and performances that become a part of important moments in someone's life.  

Has your sound been influenced by any difficult to identify factors? 

Only in so far as quite often a song goes through a lot of re-writing, meanders through unexpected directions and ends up sounding unlike you had first imagined. So, chord changes, dynamics, tempo - some days, perhaps every day, you feel slightly differently and that dictates the creative process in a fascinating way.

The You Shine On music video looks great. Should we be expecting more visuals down the line? 

Thanks! Yes there will be more videos on the way. The visuals are really important, we'd like to add video to all our releases, but unfortunately budget availability sometimes gets in the way.  

How do you approach the band's artistic vision on the visual side? 

We work closely with our director, Scott. We usually send two or three videos or film clips that we like over with a new song as a starting point. For example of the first three videos we wanted something black and white, sort of German 1920s. We sent references to Scott and he came back with some great ideas that we bought into and let him take the lead from there. We are really picky with the edits towards the final cut, but other than that we run with it. 

What is the band's future? 

We're gearing up to release our debut album, really hoping that is going to happen in the next few months. We'd also like to get the live shows into Europe as soon as we can.

Band photo by Scott Chalmers

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