Magik Markers, an amazing performance-driven noise trio, played Death by Audio Saturday. Green light flooded the stage. I thought there’d be more people there. However, when singer Elisa Ambrogio’s presence took over the smokey room, time moved differently, quickly and slowly, as she diminished barriers between performer and performance, herself and the music. I don’t know how long they played for, or how many songs they did, but I was left with feeling, an indescribable impression. We sat down for a funny little chat after the show.
While Magik Markers have been around since 2001, the first time I saw them was in 2007 at a silent movie theater in Los Angeles. At the time on Thurston Moore’s label Ecstatic Peace!, they played alongside The Entrance Band
and Six Organs of Admittance
, both of whom I was excited to see. I didn’t know who they were at the time, but remember being totally captivated by their experimentalism, something I hadn’t had too much experience with at that point. From what I remember of that show, their music has evolved immensely. What was more chaotically noisy has been honed into a driving haze, one that defies the conventional constructs of song without sacrificing the concept all together. Their songs are sound-based music – not noise, mindless and random – a common trap noise artists fall into that seems to plague and taint the genre for many listeners. Elisa at times used her voice like a guitar, her guitar like a voice; there was no difference between the two of them. As a trio, they were seamlessly in line with one another, creating walls of sound and feeling.The songs were distinct, and not so long that their presence became daunting. It was a great show. Afterward, I went to talk to Ambrogio, who was awesome, funny, and nice.
Where are you guys from originally?
And you live in Massachusetts now?
I first saw you in 2007, or six, in LA… what have you guys been doing since then?
In 2007 we put out Boss, then in 2009 we put out Balf Quarry. We have a new record coming out in the next couple months on Drag City that, I don’t know what the name of it is yet, but I think it’s gonna be called LA Law or, let’s see… Surrender to the Fantasy; it’ll be one of those two titles. Look for that in your local record store. Also, we did a split with Sic Alps
last year. That was called… I dunno… it was a split with Sic Alps.
Eh, fuck it. So, when did you guys open for Sonic Youth?
2004 or five.
Was it cool?
Yeah, it was cool. Those guys are really nice. They’re really, really supportive of other people.
Something I noticed in your show tonight…
I know, I got fat. Don’t be mean! That’s not me!
Shhh! So, on your record you usually play…
Pete got fat.
It’s super awkward. We all want to tell him but we won’t.
No! Now, you usually play songs on your records, but your live show is more of a long jam. Is that an intentional thing or…
It is an intentional thing when we don’t practice at all before a show. Like for instance tonight, we didn’t practice at all, so we we’re just like oh, let’s play.
Why did you congratulate your drummer Pete at the end of the show?
He just got a new house.
East Hampton, Massachusetts. He bought a house with his wife. So now they’re gonna live in Massachusetts instead of in Greenpoint.
Wait, so you live in Massachusetts and he lives in Greenpoint… is that why you guys didn’t practice?
That sounds about right. Okay, so you have a new album coming out. Are you guys doing a tour soon or anything that people should look out for?
Actually in May we’re touring with Black Bananas
, which is Jennifer Herrema from RTX and Royal Trux, her new band, and this band Jealousy. I don’t know anything about them, but Black Bananas I’m really excited to tour with because she’s kind of like an idol of mine. If I had musical idols, it would be Kim Gordon and Jennifer Herrema.
So you kind of have all the bases covered.
You can die now.
Yeah, or I can just like dress like her. I can just look like a weird, shitty version of her…
A distorted mirror…
People will be like, "Oh no, Elisa wears fur tails with everything!" And I can just be like, "I wish I was that lady… she’s really cool!"