1883 Magazine

MAJIK are quite the pair, leading separate lives and coming from very different backgrounds, together they fuel a powerful blend of intricate and personified style of electro-pop.

As an unsigned duo, since merging their partnership of song writing, both Jamie and Marcus have amassed over 12 million global streams and seen themselves play to sold-out shows across Europe and most recently Asia. With all beautifully crafted soundscapes and radio-friendly hooks that sink deep into your psyche; recent release,‘27’ is no stranger to their past material.

We caught up with the pair to examine closely on their recent tour, go further into an in-depth discussion on songwriting and talk about exciting plans heading on into the later months of this year.

As a duo has your musical taste developed since you were starting out to now?

Marcus: I would say from my musical journey from young, as taste has developed over the years dramatically. I wouldn’t say it was trend following but you would listen to stuff 16, 17, 18 to start to find your own taste, after exploring some genres. I certainly have dropped some genres and I only listen to for nostalgia now and I guess it sort of progressed to what we feel we make. I still definitely dip into old music for pleasure.

Do both of your music tastes differ from each other? And has this added to your writing?

Jamie: I mean we both have a mutual respect for Daughter, we both respect her as an artist. We both have different tastes really.

Marcus: I wouldn’t say as a writer or an artist that I ever needed to gain influence from music, style, content or flavour because it’s so personal to them. It’s more just for listening to music for pleasure. I guess then after a while when you’ve saturated your soul so much with other people’s music, then it comes a point where you want to put your own spin on it. Then all we do is to take that from our life experience. Jamie came along with a sound I liked, so I was able to use that palette and my personal experiences. That’s the combo of music that I got to this point. I think I just explore music for different reasons and then it comes out in that form as a product.

Tell us about your song writing process and how you come up what your ideas.

Marcus: For me personally whenever I get in to a room and write, I literally have nothing in my head apart from a big feeling, its not case of me saying “I want it to sound like this.. I want this to sound like that”. The way it comes out is the way me and Jamie work together. The sound we make together is a hybrid of his ear and my words and how they best fit together in my own personal bubble. Its very separate to the type the music we would listen we listen to in our space tie

Does one of you typically start with a leading song idea? Quite often I find one memeber who does most of the writing and the other fleshes it out.

Marcus: So, predominantly Jamie has control over the sounds and I’m more picky with what I’m trying to say. If I have a good enough concept, Jamie will start to feed on that. He’ll start to hear it and see an idea, and sometimes a melody and sound will come a bit forward. At some points I would say “Okay, I’m not ready to get the idea of the song yet..” So sometimes we balance each other a little bit. Often Jamie can already hear the next music part and I’m like “I can’t hear the pre-build yet, so I haven’t got the words ready to emulate the sounds”. So sometimes it’s cat and mouse and sometimes we get to a point, where I want to express my ideas. We fuse together and sometimes the song breaks down and we can never finish it. It has to come from the right place and it has to go on its own journey.

Jamie: Sometimes we start with the chords and develop there and other times I’ll have most of a track and I would send it to him and he would write a flow all over it and then re-structure that. If I find a sound that I like, with a beat then we know we’re on to a winner.

Marcus: Writing in the same room, especially for me to put everything on a plate can feel a bit claustrophobic. There have been times, where I’ve been on a train writing an instrumental, where I think “I’m in my own zone here” and normally when I send it to Jamie, after a few bits of tweaking I’ve got the bare-bones of something. So its like 60% finished.

Jamie: And yeah once we’ve written a song, then I’ll start to fit layers over the sounds. Normally we start with the chords and the vocals and build it up from there. Then after adding the sounds, Marcus will come back when it’s near completion and listen to the track and tell me what he does and doesn’t like. 

Marcus: We have a few back-and-fourths but we’ve learned in time to send the track back when its at a better point to listen to, otherwise things can get confused. Jamie sends his ideas, I could get back saying “I really don’t like it”, but then it really affects the writing process. Its nice to give each other some space, otherwise too much involvement on each side and it can get a bit weird.

I hear about a lot of chart-pop artists who are writing songs within a week but I think artists shouldn’t be too pressured by time, as good song will happen when the time and product is right.

Jamie: Yeah, it either works for us or it doesn’t. We tried it when we first started, when things were first going, thinking like “Shit, we need to write loads of songs” and we tried to write and write.

Marcus: Jamie had the whip out.. (laughs). Nah, Jamie was like “We could do this, we could do that” and sometimes we couldn’t write. You could be writing something that doesn’t have a song in it and if there was no song in it, it doesn’t sound right. I like the balance of life and writing, without living I wouldn’t have anything to write about. So, I have to go into the field to get my songs and live in that world in order to get inspired and that can take time.

So song can feel real genuine.

Marcus: Yeah, it’s fully my reality. So, if I haven’t got anything that I’m conscious about or thinking about then there won’t be a song there and Jamie can hold off until there is.

Jamie: I have friends who are songwriters but I don’t get how you could go into a room with someone completely random and write a song.

Marcus: It’s never inspired me when someone can write a melody in a song, where there’s no meaning. That’s something I’ve been really against but for those reasons, I would rather wait until I’ve got a song that feels right.

You guys have released two singles this year, ‘27’ was your last single. Tell me some more about it..

Jamie: 27 was the result when we went to Asia and we came back and we had a few things going round and we had a few things slot together.

Marcus: We were sitting in a hotel room together in Bangkok and Jamie said “We’ve got a few hours” and I said “Put that beat on that you sent me, I haven’t showed you this but I’m excited for you to hear it”. So I showed him the two verses for that song, he was like “Shit man, yeah I really like it. Let’s get that straight into the studio when we get back”. So I written 90% of that song, in my house with this beat before we went away. Then when we heard it, that was the first thing we wanted to close off before we open new chapters. For me it was about closing that chapter before the tour and having an experiment with a slightly different flow. The journey I want my listeners to go on is the same journey one I want to go on myself. Peeling back the layers, so that ‘27’ was the first that was more experimental in content. To have a good reception and to have people enjoy it was a really good feeling.

Jamie: As far as an independent release goes its done well.

Currently you are unsigned and operate well without a label, would be signed be part of your upcoming plans?

Jamie: It’s that tricky thing, do you want to or not? We seem to be doing alright

and things are coming naturally. At some stage, we’d obviously like to have a bit more weight behind us because it’s literally just me and Marcus doing everything really.

Marcus: It certainly is good to know that you’re free and secure in your financial senses. At the moment we’re getting good bits of achievement, good bits of sync coming in on the back of the music. So there’s nothing we’ve really done to open doors and for somebody to be taking interest in different areas and actually providing us with stability financially, it could give us more leverage in the future.

Jamie: When we own everything it’s quite nice to know that we’re in control. My opinion changes whether we should stay independent forever or want to get signed. Obviously the power of a major label can be quite something if its used in the right way. I guess we’re kinds feeling our way through it, being careful about what we do.

You’ve played shows recently in Shanghai, Beijing and Bangkok, is there a big difference to how the crowds react to you compared to the UK

Marcus: Yeah definitely. Considering we haven’t played Asia before, to turn up and having 100 people at each show was great. Having found our music online, they made sure they’re there with their friends and really want to interact. We had two girls who flew to two different cities to watch us twice. We’ve played in the UK we’ve had some good shows but how far they’re willing to travel with you is another thing. In China they had a really good connection with us, so it did feel special to us.

Jamie: We’re playing at these different places, which were so far from home. Going to a gig in a tuk-tuk instead of a taxi is crazy and cool. 

Marcus: The stimulus is so high when you wake up everyday, playing these shows everyday. Every single part of your body and senses is on fire. When you’re playing the UK, it’s another show, another van. Out there it’s such a change in scenario for our stuff. On top of the shows excitement and the passion from the fans, you can absorb so many things around you. I’ve never felt more inspired and where I should be in that moment. You’re really engaged and that goes to show you it’s the same with the fans. You turn up to a show and you’re ready to smash it and they’re ready to absorb, so it’s a mutual thing. Whereas here it’s all right in front of you, its all on a plate for you now. You walk down to the tube, you’re at your favourite venue but yeah it definitely felt more dynamic out there.

Jamie: We want to go back for sure, we just want to travel more. It’s just us two now, so you can go anywhere really.

What are your favourite places to play out of those?

Marcus: Borneo was pretty cool.

Jamie: Luoyang was the best one.

How did the venues compare to the UK?

Marcus: The venues were really nice, we were kinda not knowing what to expect but the sound engineers was really great. Even though they couldn’t speak English, we had a translator. For us, it’s about getting our sound to the right quality. Being an electronic band, we had to be on that. We got lucky with that because we had a guy who chose good quality venues but yeah they can only get better. So, from where we were at ground zero it can only go up from there.

Who had the initial idea of the story concept for the video for ‘Its Alright’?

Jamie: It was the director, who is a friend. We just let him run with it, he’s got a crazy mind, so we went with it and pulled in a lot of favours.

Marcus: The concept was about a Chinese story about the ‘red string’, about two people being connected together by red string and in that fate and destiny pulls them back together. So however far that love may stretch, you still get pulled back. I guess with that story, it does happen. People fall into your life for the right reasons, so after we has the idea, Andy embellished that into a visual and we had great actors who did that for us. We felt like he did that at the right time, so it wasn’t forced.

With ‘27’ just released what do you have plans for more music later this the year?

Jamie: We’re sort-of planning at the moment, accessing where we are and what we want to do next.

Jamie: We want to keep the momentum going from China. So obviously we’re trying to write more. It’s almost like a game of catch up really.

What country would be your strongest fan-base?

Jamie: It’s interesting to see where people are listening from Spotify. It’s Mexico, where the biggest fanbase is. So it’s really interesting to see what would happen if we did a gig there. But it’s kind of dotted all round the world really. 

Marcus: We’re looking to be doing some select dates in September in some key cities that we’ve played in. So we’re gonna go back and give them a proper show.

So you guys are based in London, was that your key audience when your first started out?

Jamie: Just because its all online, we don’t just focus on London audiences. 

Marcus: I think we played our first few shows in London, obviously that’s natural being a London based band but as soon as we played London a little bit we realised that we needed to go away and do our homework. It was nice to do a first few showcases for people, so when we come back we can go do things properly.

That one thing about making use of being an online band, you can choose any area to focus on to build follow, you’re not restricted to where you’re from.

Marcus: It would be nice to know we can get reception across the world rather than just in our hometown because we’re not relying on Londoners to build a larger network. We have more cities to play and people we can work with overseas.

How would you describe Majik in three words? Not including the word magic?

Marcus: I would probably say intimate for one, real and atmospheric. They’re just real songs with a big atmosphere, so you can come have a feeling and put them in your ears.

How do you feel about collaborations with other artists?

Marcus: I guess we’ve never felt we needed to work with other artists to get ourselves recognition. Also we would feel that who ever we bring on board would have to have the right style. I think me and Jamie are quite selective about what we do and right now we haven’t had anything on the table to do it. We wouldn’t do it for the sake of it but only in a really invested passion. I’m sure if the right artist came about, we’d listen but we’re not really on the radar for anyone.

Majik’s latest track ’27’ is out now via iTunes

The band will also be playing at Selfridges as part of Music Matters campaign on 26th July for tickeys click here
For all their latest news head to www.facebook.com/majiklondon

Interview Chris Graham

Photography Yoshi Kono

Grooming Evan Huang

Styling - Benn Chan from Rabbithole London 

Clothing Rabbithole London 

Photography assistant Rio


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