[INTERVIEW] Kevin Bachmann Poised to Release Debut Album as Summer Magic

Kevin Bachmann is always making moves. Not literally; he actually exudes chill as we sit at a picnic table in the breezy courtyard of Off Broadway. The venue will host a show on Friday celebrating Sharks and Other Dangers, the first album from Bachmann’s latest project, Summer Magic. “I’m always working on stuff, always demoing,” he admits. Bachmann is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, session player, and live band member for nearly half a dozen outfits in town in addition to the band he fronts.

photo by Nate Burrell

And as St. Louis drifts into fall, it’s time at long last for the city to experience Summer Magic properly. While Bachmann imagines he has no less than two albums’ worth of songs for future SM records, today we have SaOD, a compact 8 track debut that’s also an exercise in dichotomy: buoyant, jangly pop riffs beguile the listener as serious subjects loom beneath. Some songs on Sharks date back to Bachmann’s days in shoegaze outfit Troubadour Dali during the early 2010s – the rest are more contemporary originals, many of which feature co-writing and playing contributions from longtime band mate and collaborator Benjamin Marsh.

[What follows are excerpts from a longer interview with Kevin Bachmann.]

On the process of making the album at David Beeman’s Native Sound Recording:

“Right before I parted ways with Troubadour Dali, I popped in one day to David’s old studio space…we became pretty fast friends. He got what I was trying to do. I wanted to start recording with him then, but he was working on moving into his new space. I could’ve recorded with someone else, but David treats — and maybe this is because he’s also a songwriter — he treats the recording process as art-making, rather than just a totally technical thing. He’s willing to push you outside your comfort zone, and will support you if you want to go down a rabbit hole and be adventurous.”

On being adamant about making music with his friends:

“There’s a lack of drama. I’ve been in bands where it’s ‘Ego City’ or feels like ‘too many cooks in the kitchen.’ At the end of the day, my friendships are more important than anything related to the music-making process. Nowadays, I feel like everyone is pretty mature and has a clear sense of our individual roles. As a result, the people in my group of musical friends are really supportive of one another’s work. Like when I play in Beeman’s band, I’m not there to help him write songs. It’s a blast because I love his music and I get to show up and play bass and sing backup and that’s that. I would rather play with my friends than have some roster of supposedly amazing session musicians.”

On becoming a father while being a working musician:

“I was really careful about what I committed to creatively when my wife and I found out we were having a baby. But really, for years before I had my son, I’ve been a much healthier person than I was when I was a younger guy playing out. I’ve accomplished a lot in my personal life — from a frontal lobe development kind of perspective. I haven’t been concerned about partying for a long time. I just want to make art.”

On the sound of Sharks and Other Dangers:

“I didn’t sit down and decide to write a whole record, but I do feel like I ended up with a good yin and yang sort of sound. Half the record is jangly and upbeat, but there’s some darker and weirder stuff in there. ‘A Certain Little Chord’ plays fun and upbeat, but it’s definitely a bummer lyrically. That wasn’t necessarily intentional, but the end result feels special. That song is about a family falling apart, and maybe subconsciously I needed to make it have some sort of catharsis or optimism. Jangle pop or power pop keeps getting thrown around when people are talking about this album, and I get that. While I gravitate toward things that are a little darker, Sharks is still very melodic.

On what else we need to know about Summer Magic or the album: 

I’m sure everyone says this, but I am genuinely excited to share this music live with an audience, and to have the record out on vinyl at the release show. As far as touring, I don’t know if I have a plan for that. It’s not something I’m super worried about doing as I’m happy to be a studio rat and to continue to make stuff. That said, if something comes up I definitely wouldn’t mind going out for a run or two. I’m proud of the band I put together; it’s just rad to play with these people.

Kevin sitting for a portrait at Off Broadway, where it all goes down on Friday, 9/28.



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