by Jake Navarro, Dec. 29, 2015
2016 is the year of Magna Carda. They're the real deal. The art this group creates is well beyond 2015. These creatives are doing their research, releasing quality product, and pulling in very healthy crowds around town. They are the epitome of the modern artist collective -- making them the Hip-Hop Act of 2016.
Check out the high energy live snippet of their October single, "Angela Bassett," to see for yourself. As for their raging-banger (and genius set-closer), "Juice," an 18-second clip just won't to it justice.
"While the club going up on a Tuesday
I'm masterminding what it take to get the crew paid
Sitting at the top like a toupee
Who say Lil' Megz couldn't be the object--Trouve
White Tee--Franchize Boyz
Blue Jeans like Lana Del Rey
Gold Watch like Lupe
Shoes that's Ku Klux White
Head Gear, Brixton, Fashion
Stella' like I'm Angela Bassett!"
Be sure to memorize those lyrics, because there is absolutely no better way to kick start the new year and Free Week than with the ultimate live show experience involving you jumping up and cheering, "Stella' like I'm Angela Bassett!"
To get in on the roomful of Bassett-proclamations action, RSVP on Do512 here for Magna Carda's Jan. 1 free show at Hotel Vegas. The venue will definitely be at capacity, so RSVP and arrive early!
MyCityATX was able to sit down with, front-woman, Megz Kelli, Dougie Do, and the rest of the gang before their last show of 2015 at Mohawk. The group openly discussed their creative ventures, the story behind "Angela Bassett," and the importance of showcasing the voices of women of color in the industry.
With imagery and voice that entices a little deeper level of thinking, Magna Carda knows exactly what they're doing as their every move is precise. Listen a little closer. They're doing a remarkable job of infusing both the gathered information of past popular culture and contemporary art.
Megz begins with the concept of their anticipated album projected for a February release.
"This time we wanted to deliver an experience. It's not always just music--it's art. It's other people's album covers that aren't just covers, but iconic. Concept albums--pieces of art. This new album is a different experience. That's what we were going for."
She continues to explain the creative process.
"We go to a lot of shows and watch our favorite bands every time we get a chance. We literally text each other while we're watching a show," front-woman, Megz tells MyCityATX.
The members of what is now Magna Carda take notes on what they like or don't care for about their faves' live performance. By collaborating with each other, even via iMessage, the group enables themselves to create an organic experience of their own.
Dougie offers, "We took our biggest pet peeves and are not doing that. We've been watching other bands around town and been getting inspired."
These experiences are not only being packaged up in reputable, compressed audio files, but producing live shows that sound completely different and, I'll say it, even better than their studio or live-show YouTube video counterparts.
It's a feeling.
The vocalist lets MyCityATX in on where that feeling comes from poetically.
"My writing is a mix of my experience and other people's because being a woman of color, who I am and how I identify--you don't always have a voice. It's not just important for me to tell my story, but to tell others' narratives, as well. Everything isn't necessarily true about me, but it is about where I come from and the people I know. Those are the things that make me who I am."
"Musically, we're definitely incorporating the band more. We're trying to balance both elements, so we don't lose what people know us for," Megz explains when I asked where their music was headed.
Band members, Dougie Do, Mike Gonzales, Eric Nikolaides and Derek Van Wagner all have a special place and moment on stage to complete the entire Magna Carda experience.
"I think Magna Carda is about this vision we have. It's not the music and lyrics separately, it's a whole vibe that comes together," said Eric Nikolaides.
Drummer, Mike Gonzales finishes, "Eric, Derek and I have been playing together for some time now. The musical chemistry we create together, I feel, is big for this band."
Although their catalogue and stage presence is on point and getting better, the group has inevitably suffered from rejection and creative differences amongst directors.
Dougie starts, "We've been denied so many times by our favorite people--"
"--maybe that's what Angela Bassett is all about," Megz laughs. "You know, there comes a point in time where you just stop caring. You almost tell yourself, "I want to surpass you." Not in a mean way, but I want to do my own thing--stand on my own. Not your opinions or what you think I am or how you perceive me. Have it your way--I'm just going to be stella' like Angela Bassett."
Learning how the official "Angela Bassett" music video was constructed and the hard work Derek put into the four-minute video, is inspiring in itself. The video is a recorded piece of Magna Carda history wrapped up in a house party and a good time.
"We're a lot more skeptical to empty promises. We were promised private jets and $200K, and that's what sucked me into making this video. Lo and behold, there's no jet and twenty kids from a church group," Derek says as seriously as he can while the entire table laughs.
Magna Carda isn't just a song you listen to or a band's show you attend. It's a way of thinking and a lifestyle. Staying true and placing art and creativity at the forefront of what they do is apparent the instant you pick their brains.
This collective knows what they're capable of and aren't afraid to say no to whoever may be presenting ideas they don't fully stand for or believe in.
And, for that, Magna Carda will be the Hip-Hop Act of 2016. Now, it's just a waiting game as we enjoy their shows here in Austin, Texas.