The spotlight continues to shine bright on the city of Buffalo, NY. Between the injection of capital from Governor Cuomo and the eccentric but progressive billionaire Elon Musk, “The Queen City” is experiencing a truly noticeable expansion in it’s industrial economics and in turn creating a palpable renaissance era for arts and culture.
Elliott Douglas is one of the city’s most prominent up and coming artists. After playing in numerous Buffalo acts he’s making waves with his first venture into the solo artist realm. M.A.G.S is the name of Elliott’s recording project in which he writes, sings, and plays all the instruments.
Not only does Elliott possess an extreme proficiency with each of his instruments, but his knack for writing intriguing songs with lyrical depth and catchy hooks is awe inspiring.
As impressive as M.A.G.S first EP Cellophane is to listen to, which has been on repeat here at the Evensound offices, the true magic happens with their live show. We strongly encourage seeing these amazing songs come to life if you have the means.
M.A.G.S will be closing out the Quiet Country Audio showcase for Buffalo’s second ever Herd Fest on Saturday night at Duke’s. Likely the most anticipated line-up of the festival, given it’s incredible line-up featuring Buffalo acts that should definitely be on your radar. The showcase line-up is – 10:30pm – The Soft Love, 11:30pm – The Slums, 12:15am – The Naturalists, 1am – M.A.G.S
Elliott took the time to answer some questions for us here at Evensound. Proving that he practices what he preaches in contributing to his local scene by “not being a dick”.
Where did the name M.A.G.S come from ?
Do people come up with clever assumptions on what the acronym stands for – i.e. “Murdering Adults Get Serious” or “My Adorable Guilty Secrets”… Or is that just us?
M.A.G.S was born out of the swift and controversial end of my previous band, The Malones. After being apart of close to a dozen projects up to that point I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing and recording my own solo material. It definitely took me some time to work through some of my insecurities about releasing my own music and my singing voice.
It’s been a journey getting to where I am now. The name M.A.G.S as an acronym really doesn’t have an official meaning. Originally it was just Mags but there is already and artist using that title so I had to improvise. Part of the fun is letting people make up their own meaning and hearing what they come up with.
What are your influences? Who are you listening to currently?
I’m usually all over the place with what I listen to thanks to Spotify, but there are a few albums that I’ve been binging on lately.
Tame Impalas’ Lonerism has to be my most-played album as of late. Every single song on that record is a masterpiece in its arrangement and production.
Believe it or not, I didn’t really get into The Strokes until after I started M.A.G.S. I knew some of their more popular songs but I hadn’t really sat down and spun an entire record all the way through until late last year. I’ve been referencing them a lot in my new songs.
Lastly, I always find myself coming back to Arctic Death for inspiration. If you don’t know Arctic Death, look them up. My dear
friend Steven Floyd, front-man of Buffalo super-band The Slums, was the guitarist of Arctic Death. That’s actually how we met. His work in that band completely changed the way I play guitar and has a lot to do with my songwriting style with M.A.G.S.
We noticed on your Facebook account that you were home-schooled. Did that experience give you a better environment to explore your creativity?
Man, being home-schooled is a blessing in disguise. All I would ever do on my lunch breaks was run downstairs to my computer and record songs or I would be playing Underoath’s They’re Only Chasing Safety on drums from front to back. I never took any lessons growing up but I had plenty of time and juuuust enough exposure to the outside world to help me along with honing my skills.
Your most recent EP Cellophane is amazing! What was the songwriting and recording process like?
The songwriting process was the most organic and natural experience I’ve had writing music so far. I was right in the middle of a 10-month break up with my now-wife Julia so I had a lot to write about to say the least.
I changed a lot during those 10 months and I think Cellophane is a snapshot of how I was processing being single and the choices I was making in that season.
How has it been playing the songs live with a backing band? Who are those cool dudes backing you up?
Adam Lilley and Andy Wesner are the two powerhouses that make up my live band. Drums and bass respectively. To put someone completely out of their element and to watch them rise to the occasion and exceed your expectations is a wonderful process to watch come full circle.
Mags is my baby and Adam and Andy are kick ass babysitters It’s very difficult for me to rely other musicians and people in general and they have never let me down.
You mentioned previously playing in one of Buffalo’s most prolific defunct bands, The Malones. How do you think the Buffalo indie rock scene has evolved since then?
Big things are happening in Buffalo man. I think The Malones was like lightning in a bottle. The three of us were all in the right place at the right time, when the scene didn’t have a clear direction or a “buzz band” if you will.
I never thought of us as prolific or influential while it was happening but looking back now I can see how much people actually gave a shit about what we were doing.
What advice would you give to any young musician or indie band just getting started?
Support the scene! Go to shows, talk to everyone, don’t be a dick. In a city like Buffalo, being in a band doesn’t necessarily have to be all about image or selling tickets. There’s nothing like going to a local show and sensing that spark in the air, like everyone is there for the exact same reason and they believe in what’s about to happen.
What did you think of your Audiokite experience?
It was eye-opening! I crave criticism. It’s one thing for your family and friends to critique your material but for total strangers to either totally dig your stuff or just totally lay into you is a whole other thing.
What’s in store for the next year of M.A.G.S ?
I’m not much for planning to be honest. I have some aspirations and I will definitely be putting out new music in the not too distant future but honestly I’d rather just take things as they come and let it all be a surprise.