Interview w/ Computer Magic


Science-fiction, NASA, plumes of kicked up dirt behind the wheels of a DeLorean. Computer Magic’s hypnotic oeuvre revolves around themes of emotional wanderlust, illusory control, and the tenuous ebb of self-exploration. Danz is the cosmic conductor behind the electric color wheel that is Computer Magic. Her unmistakable delivery, otherworldly production, and spectral lyrics come together to create a constellation of unmined memories. With her newest release, Davos, she continues to explore tangible themes through the use of space and mystery. In wanting to catch up with one of our favorite artists, we talked to Danz about Japan, songwriting, and movie scores.


Rob Patrick: You were great on Har Mar Superstar’s podcast, Nocturnal Emotions, awhile back. What are the chances that you start your own show? We’re really pitching this idea.

Danz: Doing Nocturnal Emotions was really fun! I actually helped make the theme song for it with Har Mar, he’s an awesome guy. I’m not sure about doing my own podcast, though, that takes a lot of time. It could be fun. I think if I did have one it would just be me talking about albums that I’m into at the moment or something like my blog, zDanz.


Your music videos are always ethereal, otherworldly, and dream-like. What’s important to you, aesthetically, when coming up with visual accompaniments to your songs?

I like to make videos that transport you to places. I also like making videos that would be fun to make. For instance in “Be Fair” I told the director I really wanted to ride in a DeLorean in the desert, and he made the video plot based around that. I think incorporating sci-fi elements is important to me, mainly because I think it aesthetically fits the songs I write.


Japan loves you. How are the crowds and cultural dynamics in, say, Kyoto in comparison to a metro in the United States?

Japan is amazing and I feel extremely lucky to have been able to perform there a number of times. The fans are very welcoming to Computer Magic and are all very sweet. The venues are bigger for us there because CM is a little more successful in Japan. Hopefully it gets to be that way over here too!


I’ve been to two of your shows in San Diego, and you always have a great stage presence: there’s a meticulous, subdued intensity to your performances. In your mind, what makes a good live show? And, on a secondary level, who are your favorite artists that you have seen in person?

Thanks for coming out to the San Diego shows! I think what makes a great show is the engagement of the artist. I don’t think anyone should ever be bored at a show. I actually still get pretty nervous before every show I play, but am learning how to get over that. I was lucky enough to see some of the greats perform like Prince and Paul McCartney. They are on an entirely different level than most and are so good at being entertainers. When I was 16 one of my first shows was seeing The Cribs in Philadelphia at The Theatre of Living Arts. It might be because it was one of my first real shows, but they were amazing and were so fun to watch on stage. They were kicking beer bottles and the lead singer Ryan had cut his lip with the microphone. Very rock and roll for me at that age [laughs]


What are three songs that changed the way you think about music?

Hmmm, if I had to pick three (right now) they would be The Kinks – “Waterloo Sunset”, Radiohead – “Pyramid Song”, and Stereolab – “Miss Modular”, although there are so many songs that have influenced the way I think about music. If you asked me last week or tomorrow, my choices would constantly be changing.


You always find incredible ways of pairing words together to form emotionally blindsiding lines. There’s smoke and mirrors in life, memories, and relationships – and you manage to coil those sentiments around hypnotic production. What makes a good lyric to you?

A good lyric to me, as a music listener, is something I feel I can relate to in some sort of way, or something that makes me question my feelings, or something that makes me feel something.


You are always bridging levity, style, and sound with fan interaction. As an artist, what’s your take on social media’s place in modern music?

I think social media is definitely an important platform for artists to reach out to their fans, especially now that everyone (including me) is glued to their phones. Social media is how a lot of people find out about new music or shows from an artist. There’s also the fear that if you’re not constantly engaging people via social media you’ll become obsolete, the amount of music out there is ever-expanding.


Would you ever consider scoring a movie? And if so, what director would you want to work with and why?

I would absolutely love to score a movie. A Coen Brothers movie would be really incredible to score, like how Jonny Greenwood scored There Will Be Blood.


Finally, when you come back to San Diego, do I give the #DanzDiego hashtag another try or just give up on it? I think it was 0.3% successful, so I might go back to the well.

Sure give the hashtag a go, why not!?


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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