A tale of destiny… and magic, love and dreams

A tale of destiny… and magic, love and dreams

As concepts go, ‘Fate’ is as big as they come. It’s no white-haired supreme being building the universe in under a week, or the critically acclaimed sequel about how the creator of everything had a son who copped it for all of our sins, but it’s pretty bloody huge. It gets us through the night when we’ve just been dumped, and the following day as we’re sacked from a job that we didn’t really want anyway. It comforts after we run for the train only to see it pull away, and feeds our lusty dreams up to the moment our lottery tickets are binned. As long as everything’s predestined, everything is going to be just rosy.

“We used to joke about that all the time,” giggles Dexy of The Magic Wands. “Chris would be like, ‘this is our destiny’, and I’d say, ‘Shut up! That’s so cheesy.'”

Oh yes, Fate has its knockers too. Even those who’ve experienced the kind of serendipity found in a Richard Curtis money-spinner can be cynical to the map of the cosmos.

“I started this Myspace group called The Dollphins,” continues Dexy “which was like a girl band but there was nobody in it except me, and I had just one song. Chris started stalking me on Myspace, and then‚” actually it’s funny because I didn’t know it but I’d met him briefly for ten minutes, a year before that‚””

“We met outside a show for, like, a few minutes when I was in LA one time,” interrupts Chris “but I didn’t realise, I just heard her song on the Myspace page and thought, ‘this is so great’.”

“It’s kinda weird,” Dexy ponders “when I first met him I thought, ‘oh, he’s cute’ but then I never saw him again.”

Two LA kids meet outside a gig. They go their separate ways, only to meet once again, through Myspace, a year later. Only one of them (Chris) isn’t a Californian at all, but a passing visitor to the City of Angels, from his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. It might not be Fate, but it’s the happy coincidence that gave birth to The Magic Wands, the dreamiest, sexiest pop duo around.

The track that Chris quickly became obsessed with was Dexy’s Blondie-toting ‘Teenage Love’: a cross between a hornier ‘Rapture’ and a less calypso ‘Island Of Lost Souls’. After gushing to The Dollphins via Myspace he and Dexy would speak every day on the phone for a summer until Chris finally flew back to LA to meet Dexy for the second time. They spent the weekend together, “really hit it off”, and before long Chris was moving the sole member of his new favourite band into his Nashville home. “We never left the house,” says Dexy. “We turned it into a mini disco and never left, ever. We only went out to eat and that was about it.”

The Magic Wands’ place would have been the house rumbling to clipped drum machines and floaty boy/girl coos. Enveloped by the city’s predominant alt. county, blues and rock’n’roll bands, Dexy and Chris would write overdriven sweet pop (‘Kiss Me Dead’), sassy disco with Ramones “HEY!”s (‘Black Magic’) and synthy, cosmic Ladyhawke numbers (‘Starship’). No wonder they were reluctant to step outside and into a world of plaid shirts and serious beards – The Magic Wands are a party band who have called their debut EP ‘Magic, Love and Dreams’ because “those are the three main topics that we obsessed over when we first met,” nods Dexy “and we still do. Those are the things that we’re really inspired by and interested in. We’re an ESP rock band,” she laughs.
As ‘Kiss Me Dead”s wall of sound meets the shoegaze revival, critics have already voiced certain comparisons, most notably the not unpleasant ‘Nancy Sinatra fronting the Jesus and Mary Chain’ stab from The Guardian. But it’s not accurate, say the band.
“We don’t even own a Jesus and Mary Chain record,” said Dexy, for the first time not smiling. “I mean, it’s totally retarded for people to say that, just because we used reverb it doesn’t mean we’re like Jesus and Mary Chain. We don’t dislike them but‚” no‚” it’s just a shortcut to thinking. ‘Oh, reverb and delay, Mary Chain’, y’know?”

“We try to keep it all kinda ethereal‚”” begins Chris before being cut off.

“No, it’s not ethereal,” counters Dexy. “See? Any word you use it’s like, ‘No!’.”

Chris: “It is. It’s like spacey, a lot of it.”

“It’s space pop.” Dexy acquiesces and opts for the daftest title she can imagine. “That’s what I told someone the other day that said, ‘we need to know what it is’, so I said, ‘it’s like music on the moon’.”

The truth is The Magic Wands are all of the above. Jesus and Mary Chain is in there somewhere, and so too is ethereal, cosmo pop for moon men to make out to.

Fleetingly holed up in the Hollywood Hills, Dexy and Chris have discarded their Nashville-propelled coffee obsessions for west coast health kicks – “We do a lot of different things here that we wouldn’t do in Nashville,” explains Dexy. “In Nashville we’d go for coffee, in LA we go for a hike in the canyon and then go to a crystal shop or something.”

“We’ve been really getting into drinking smoothies here,” adds Chris “but I’m going to get really into coffee when we move to New York.”

That’s a month from now, when the duo will flee to Gotham, continuing their aim “to live in as many different places as possible.” Their stay in LA will have been short – acting as downtime after a US tour with The Kills and The Horrors – but it counts, and nearby Indian reserves have given the band their best track yet; the Native American-inspired ‘Warrior’ that thumps harder than anything else they’ve recorded and features a tribal call to rival the best bit in Duran Duran’s ‘Save A Prayer’.

It’s fitting that The Magic Wands should be today’s poster band for Fate, really. Whether they find it “so cheesy” or not, Dexy and Chris met by chance so coincidental that the giddy optimism of destiny was bound to be rooted in their music, and it is. Everything’s going to be just rosy.


Originally published in issue 7 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. June 2009

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