Self-portrait: Magdalena Bay
Welcome to the Videodrome
08 Oct 2021
Photograph by Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin
For our recurring self-portrait feature, we ask musicians to take a self-portrait photo (or paint / draw a self-portrait) and write a list of personal things about themselves, things their fans may not know. – not already about them. This self-portrait is by Los Angeles-based duo Magdalena Bay (aka Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin). Tenenbaum wrote the list and they both worked on the pictorial image of the self-portrait.
Magdalena Bay has released her first full album, Mercurial World, today via Luminelle. Mercurial World is the continuation of the 2020s A little rhythm and a mean feeling EP. The band wrote, produced and recorded the album themselves. The duo have already built up a solid following thanks to their intelligent electro-pop, which sounds both firmly of the moment and indebted to the sounds of pop from the 80s and 90s – “Secrets (Your Fire)” recalls the choices of production on “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey and their very creative green screen videos. In the video for “Secrets (Your Fire)”, for example, they are sucked into a computerized world where they encounter dragons and other fantastic things.
“We spend all of our time together, and in a way Mercurial World talks about that particular feeling of insanity in confinement, ”Lewin said in a press release announcing the album. “We live together and make art together; this immerses you in our creative and island universe.
Above, the group’s self-portrait. Read on as Tenenbaum writes about their first encounter with Lewin, a director who obsesses them, and their South American heritage.
1. The first time we met was at a little concert we both played at the age of 15, through our after-school music program. I was horrified because I was singing in front of a crowd for the first time and my song was the very intense “Crazy Train”. But Matt played with another band and really shredded and killed the show. My friends and I went to see him after the show and gave him a note that said something embarrassing like “you rock xp” hahah. Something like six months later I joined his band at music school and the rest is history!
2. We’re crazy about the Cronenberg movies right now, can’t get enough of the practical effects and weird storylines. Our current favorite is eXistenZ. Almost all of our recent music videos all have effects or ideas inspired by Videodrome. We are also more and more curious about the miniatures haha — recently revised beetle juice, which has some excellent ones, and a YouTube video of all the non-VFX “effects” work that went into the the Lord of the Rings movies, like incredibly intricate 20-foot-tall miniatures of towns and castles. Don’t think we’d go for something so elaborate, but we’re having fun falling in love with these nifty video tactics and can’t wait to incorporate them into our future visuals!
3. We have been living in the same apartment since we moved to LA three years ago. It’s a huge love / hate relationship. We know we have to move soon because our tolerance for weird carpet and parking issues is barely tenacious, but we’ve also performed all of our songs and videos since 2018 in our current apartment. Most of our clips were literally made inside the apartment in front of our green screen living room. It’s gonna be so weird to leave and never come back, I can already taste the nostalgia.
4. We already mentioned Fiona Apple as an influence, but no one knows how far our love is going! Matt grew up listening to him, his dad was still playing Tide in the house when he was little. I discovered her thanks to Matt and she became my main inspiration and influence for songwriting when I was a teenager. I don’t know if I would have dived into songwriting the same way without her, she has always been my north star.
5. We both have ties to Argentina. It sounds hit and miss, but the Argentinian Jewish community in South Florida is no joke! I was born in Buenos Aires and Matt’s father was also born there. We both come from Jewish families who fled Europe in the 1930s and ended up in Argentina, then immigrated to Miami. We visited Argentina together in 2018 which was super special. I was pretty high up immersed in the culture but Matt to a lesser extent so it was really fun to show him around my home country and experience it together! My dream is that Matt will really learn Spanish one day… we’ll see hahah.
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