The Time I Met My Imaginary FriendJune 1, 2015
By Alex Stahlmann,
This past weekend I had the opportunity to head to Minneapolis’s iconic First Avenue to take in a couple of shows featuring some of my favorite artists. Saturday night featured headliners Hot Chip — the beloved British electronic band — and also featured lesser-known artist Slow Magic.
I first learned of Slow Magic when he played the Triple Rock in support of Gold Panda in October of 2013. I didn’t actually attend the show, but I had arranged press coverage for the music blog The Beat MPLS. The general consensus was that, yes, Gold Panda was great, but the masked Slow Magic character stole the show. A year later, I found myself at the 7th Street Entry covering Slow Magic’s headlining gig. Simply put, it was fantastic. The energy and mysticism was off the charts.
Slow Magic was no different during his slot opening for Hot Chip. A DIY project with worldwide scope, Slow Magic is universal and inclusive. It’s cosmic electronic music culled from the ether, yet crafted with human hands. It’s joyous, escapist, multi-disciplinary art that mixes transcendent performance with the nostalgic intimacy of two teenagers staying up too late on the phone.
Although the music is fantastic, I also love the mystery behind Slow Magic. He’s one of the DJs and producers who have opted to keep their identities secret, and masks his face while performing. Furthermore, his brand is promoted as “music by your imaginary friend.” I dig it.
Just after grooving to the tunes of everyone’s favorite imaginary friend, and just shortly into Hot Chips set, I was approached by my actual friend, Stephen. Like me, Stephen is a six-foot-five giant, but his voluptuous hair tends to make him seem a bit larger. With a mischievous grin, Stephen handed me an illuminated replica of the Slow Magic mask that he had just copped at the merch booth. Without hesitation, I donned the mask and dance-walked my way around First Avenue – only stopping to dance along with those who were having as much fun as me. There were many.
Eventually I found myself in front of the merchandise booth, and was overcome by an incredible urge to purchase Slow Magic’s first record, Triangle – an impulse I was able to ignore his last visit to Minneapolis. Removing the mask, I engaged the two gentlemen that were behind the table and confessed my love for Slow Magic’s music and persona. They seemed pleased by my enthusiasm, and were happy to sell me a record – naturally. Not wanting to be the ultimate fan boy – both wearing a mask and holding a record – I asked if I could leave my vinyl with them for safe keeping. A bit reluctantly, they agreed, but only after setting up a secret password. A bit further down the road I ran back into Stephen and returned his mask. The time was right to retrieve my vinyl.
After exchanging smiles and our agreed upon password, I started to make my way back to the group of friends that I had come with. Just before reuniting, I ran into one of the fellas that had been originally manning the merch booth. I snagged his attention and asked, “Dude. Who’s Slow Magic for real?” He laughed and pointed back up at the merch booth. “See that guy in the white shirt? That’s him. You should go talk to him.” So, talk to him I did. Slow Magic was incredibly gracious and humble. He thanked me for the support, and even offered his real name – a secret I will not disclose at this point. I don’t often ask for signatures, but it felt right this time around. He happily signed the vinyl’s sleeve as well as the corner of the album cover. Signed vinyl in tow, and pleased to have met one of my musical favorites, I made my way back into the crowd – ready for more Hot Chip.