INTERVIEW: local livetronica duo Magnetic

Local livetronia duo Magnetic could be labeled as downtempo or chillout or trip hop- all terms used to describe a laid-back type of electronic music. But perhaps those are deceiving in that Magnetic’s live show is definitely not low energy and its effect is also not a lethargic daze. Rather, the categorization comes from a foundation in ambient melodies that are much less aggressive than other forms of electronica. For these reasons, Magnetic’s style of “easy listening” EDM makes it one of the most adaptable and accessible of its kind.

Magnetic is a relatively new project, but the collective experience of its two members is deeply rooted in the Indianapolis music scene. Adam Langolf (production, keyboards/synthesizers) began his musical career with a short-lived band “not really worth mentioning”, which later led to the forming of progressive rock band Interphase in 2002. Langolf was accompanied by Nick Neureiter (who currently plays drums for both Magnetic and Hyryder), Travis Cook on guitar, and Josh McMahon on keys. Interphase played fast-paced, groovy soundscapes heavily influenced by Phish, Tortoise, and Herbie Hancock, among others.

When the band separated in late 2005, Langolf quickly formed Metamora to fulfill the gigs he had already booked well into 2006- his first stab at producing and performing with Ableton Live. With a rotating hodgepodge of musicians backing Langolf’s productions, Metamora was able to successfully play out the remaining Interphase gigs- including an opening spot for Pnuma Trio.

Langolf admits that performing and creating music on the regular since that period hasn’t always been his primary goal. “Over the last several years I’ve definitely had large periods of time when music wasn’t as strong of a focus. I have three amazing boys and have worked in a few professions. But it just got to the point where I decided, ‘I am good at this and if I work really hard, I can do this full time to provide a better life for myself and everyone around me. But only if I dive in head first and stay there for a while.’”

Getting to know Langolf through our interview felt like those Rolling Stone articles where the journalist meets the artist in sessions- one day for lunch, then again to tour a museum, and the remainder of the article takes place in the performer’s dressing room right before they go on stage for a big show. Except mine was more like a 15-minute phone call on Wednesday to arrange a meeting time; followed by a hang-out session on the Mousetrap patio to speak with Langolf and Neureiter about their musical relationships of past and present; and completed on Saturday with a lengthy post-STS9 show assessment in the basement of The Murat. We got the job done, but became friends in the process.

And judging by the strong following of devoted fans and friends that Langolf and Neureiter draw when they perform as Magnetic, I sense that attaching to their likeable, laid-back personalities is the norm. Even when not performing, the two balance each other as well as they do on stage. “I like to talk a lot and Nick is more reserved. He’s a good yin to my yang,” Adam told me over the phone prior to our interview. Two days later, as the three of us chatted before their show last Friday at The Mousetrap, I came to see precisely what he was talking about. After we clanked our glasses of beer in a non-verbalized cheers that commenced the discussion, Langolf held up most of the conversation while Neureiter chimed in only when pointedly asked a question or if clarification of a statement was needed.

During one such interjection, Neureiter made an interesting point when I asked him to articulate the difference between performing with the band Hyryder (who cover many Grateful Dead songs) and with Langolf as Magnetic. “It brings a human element to the DJ show,” he said. “And it’s different for me, too. In Hyryder, I use lots of toms and cymbals and my playing is a lot busier- trying to do the work of the two drummers in The Grateful Dead.” He went on to describe how in Magnetic he is more focused on groove, using just a couple snares, hi hat, kick drum and a few crash cymbals. “I’m not as interested in all the flourishes as I am holding it down and keeping the dance going.”

Langolf says it’s tough to balance family, a day job, and music, but that he continues to push himself to work the craziest hours of his life in order to further his work as a producer. Keep your eye out for a full-length album from Magnetic before 2012 concludes and, of course, catch Langolf’s solo DJ set as part of Indy Mojo’s jam/electronic Tent Party Showcase as part of BRMF 2011.