It’s late night at Wake Up Call at W Bali, and Slow Magic is casting a spell. The mysterious producer had been bringing the tempo down, offering up soothing melodies that got people swaying. But by the end of his set, Slow Magic pounds his drum kit with tribal force as his mask begins flashing brightly. The set and the evening hits an emotional peak. And then he’s done.
“I like to keep it short and sweet. So I survive,” he explained a few hours before the show. “I can’t do a three-hour set.”
He admits that the mask is heavy, but it has its uses. “I started this project a while ago, and I wanted it to be something that people could just see the music and not a person,” he says. “I just wanted it to be just the music. And then after a little bit, I came up with the mask idea because I had to play a show.”
He was equally inspired by indie rock bands like Passion Pit and Sigur Rós and bedroom dance music producers such as Gold Panda and Star Slinger and set out to make music that was rich in emotion but that could also get the crowd on their feet when called to. “I think sometimes my music is chill. But I think that it fits in an environment like this,” he says, gesturing to the festival right outside his hotel window. “You could still dance to it, but a lot of times it is more feelings music, I guess.”
Slow Magic doesn’t like to tell people his name (but for the record, he didn’t wear the mask during this interview). He still doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, and though he worked with artists such as Kate Boy and The Antlers’ Peter Silberman on his 2017 album Float, none of his collaborators have met him or know what he looks like IRL. Which is how he likes it.
“I try to keep it about the music,” he says. “I try to maintain that anonymous aspect, and make it more about the project itself.”
The person under the mask might be anonymous, but his live show definitely stands out. He says his show-stopping live drumming came by accident but has become one his signature moves.
“There was one show where my computer stopped working right before. I had my songs on an iPod, so I gave it to the sound guy and borrowed a drum from my friends who were opening the show,” he remembers. “And so I realized that drumming was the way I could express music the best. I kept that going.
“I’m happy that I have something that I can do that’s as basic as hitting a drum,” he adds. “A lot of times, what a producer is doing on stage is very shrouded and mysterious in a way that I don’t really like. Because I think it’s cool that someone can see an instrument on stage with electronic music.”
It’s a sight, seeing Slow Magic as his mask lights up. It’s a lot heavier than the old mask he once wore, and the weight and lights can take a lot out of him. But it’s worth the burden he says, as long as he remembers to drink water beforehand.
“I definitely prioritize hydration before and after the show,” he says. “I can’t really drink water during the show. Maybe I could get a straw or something. But I’m just so in the zone or something that I don’t even think about it.”