Self-Portrait: Magdalena Bay | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, December 7th, 2023  

Self-Portrait: Magdalena Bay

Welcome to the Videodrome

Oct 08, 2021 Photography by Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin Web Exclusive
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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 that their fans might not already know 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 illustrated self-portrait image.

Magdalena Bay have released their debut full-length album, Mercurial World, today via Luminelle. Mercurial World is the follow-up to 2020’s A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling EP. The band wrote, produced, and recorded the album themselves. The duo have already built up a strong following thanks to their smart electro-pop, which sounds both firmly of the moment and indebted to sounds of ’80 and ’90s pop—“Secrets (Your Fire)” brings to mind the production choices on Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”—and their highly 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 fantastical things.

“We spend all of our time together, and in some ways Mercurial World is about that particular sense of madness in containment,” Lewin said in a press release announcing the album. “We live together and make art together; this immerses you in our creative, insular universe.”

Above is the band’s self-portrait image. Read on as Tenenbaum writes about when she first met Lewin, a film director they are obsessed with, and their South American heritage.

1. The first time we met was at a little concert we both played when we were 15, via our after school music program. I was horrified, since I was singing to 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 up to 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 the music school and the rest is history!

2. We’re crazy into Cronenberg movies right now, can’t get enough of the practical effects and bizarre storylines. Our current fave is eXistenZ. Pretty much all our recent music vids all have effects or ideas inspired by Videodrome. We’re also getting curious about miniatures haha—recently re-watched Beetlejuice, which has some awesome ones, and a YouTube video about all the non-VFX “effects” work that went into the Lord of the Ring movies, like insanely intricate 20+ foot tall miniatures of the cities and castles. Don’t think we’d get up to anything that elaborate but we’re having fun falling in love with these crafty video tactics and are eager to bring them into our future visuals!

3. We’ve been at the same apartment since moving to LA three years ago—it’s a huge love/hate relationship. We know we need to move soon because our tolerance for the weird carpeting and parking woes is barely hanging in there but we’ve also made all of our songs and videos since 2018 in our current apartment. Most of our music videos were literally made inside the apartment in front of our living room green screen. It’ll be so weird to leave and never come back, I can already taste the nostalgia.

4. We’ve mentioned Fiona Apple as an influence before but don’t think anyone knows to what extent our love goes! Matt grew up listening to her, his dad would always play Tidal in the house when he was a kid. I discovered her through Matt and she became my main songwriting inspiration and influence when I was a teen. Don’t know if I would’ve dived into songwriting in the same way without her, she’s always been my north star.

5. We both have ties to Argentina. Sounds random but the Argentinian Jewish community in South Florida is no joke! I was born in Buenos Aires and Matt’s dad was born there too. Both of us come from Jewish families that fled Europe in the 1930s and wound up in Argentina, and later immigrated to Miami. We visited Argentina together in 2018, which was super special. I was pretty much raised immersed in the culture but Matt to a lesser degree so it was really fun to show him around my home country and experience that together! My dream is for Matt to really learn Spanish one day… we’ll see hahah.

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