Magdalena Bay are writing their own “Story”

Photo Credit: Kate Biel

From the beginning, indie-pop duo Magdalena Bay have been making it happen for themselves. Curating their own style since their start as a high school progressive rock band, Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin blended the most unique of their influences to create the dreamy synth-pop that they bring to the table. Now, with the release of their new EP Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling, the duo are setting the stage for the bright future ahead of them.

Magdalena Bay’s origin story is not typical for a pop duo, finding their musical roots in a prog rock band immediately set the precedent that they were not going to follow the mold in whatever they did in the future. The decision behind the extreme switch in genre came with their commitment to keep their friendship and working relationship alive as they went their separate ways post-graduation. “When we went off to college, we went to different cities and you can’t really do rock music long distance,” explains Matt. “You kind of need to be in a room together. But with more electronic based music, you can just send projects back and forth and write that way.” Turning the physical distance between them into an opportunity to develop a new craft, Mica and Matt decided to steer their musical efforts into a different direction, tackling pop for the very first time.

“We were still figuring out what it really was and I was still figuring out how to produce it because I had never produced a pop song until we started Magdalena Bay,” says Matt. Admittedly, the pair had never been active listeners of pop music until they became Magdalena Bay. ”I mean, we both had to figure out how to write it, I had to figure out how to sing it,” continues Mica, whose sweet, animated vocals bring the production to life. “My voice had changed so much from the rock band. I can’t even sound— even if I wanted to—I can’t sing like I used to.”

Matt and Mica took on the challenge of developing their own sound in a genre that was completely new to them and fell in love with it. “It made our take on pop music a little bit different than the usual,” says Matt. “I mean for better or worse it’s kind of like an outsider’s perspective on pop music.” 

Being college students, they obviously were not going to always have access to the creative resources necessary for pop superstardom. Instead of letting that hinder their goals, they leaned into creating their now signature DIY aesthetic. The band now designs their own imagery for their music videos as well as live performances.

Their recent music video for their single “How to Get Physical” sees the pair dance in front of a green screen turned anime cityscape and dreamy pastel skies. A video that could be playing in the background of Dance Dance Revolution, “How To Get Physical” is their most upbeat track to date and shows how far Magdalena Bay has come into their own. Their retro inspired visuals somehow manages to create a timeless experience, pop that could have come out this year, 10 years earlier, or 10 years from now.

The pair eventually made it out to Los Angeles in order to begin the real work of becoming professional musicians. Little Rhythm and Wicked Feeling is the band’s latest EP, which is compiled of songs that capture Matt and Mica’s cross country move and learning how to make it on their own in the music industry. Across 8 tracks, the EP is home to feel-good pop that fits right between Charli XcX and Tove Lo on your playlist.

“All of these songs were written over the past 3 years,” says Mica. “Which is a long time but they kind of encompass our journey from graduating college to moving to LA and really trying to settle in and become quasi-full-time musicians. I guess it’s a bit into that journey of us really trying to figure it out after graduation. There’s no grand concept but they do definitely capture the essence of these past few years that we’ve just decided to do music and entered the industry.”

The focus track of the EP, “Story,” sees the pair come to terms with their first big disappointment after moving to LA. “The song is kind of about us taking a look at ourselves and deciding we had to get back to work and the next time something comes along, maybe don’t get over-excited about it,” explains Mica. “Instead of daydreaming, you should just try to make as many songs and videos as possible.” Taking the lessons they’ve learned in stride, Magdalena Bay have turned their first disappointments into motivation to better themselves.

“You kind of just have to go through that first big disappointment which is sad but I feel like the only way to get the realistic nature of the industry is to experience it first hand, sadly.” Mica says. Carving out their own space in pop, Magdalena Bay have curated their a unique brand of pop that will stick with listeners for a long time to come. Keep your eyes and ears open for what this duo is bringing to the table.

Stream Magdalena Bay’s new EP, Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling, here: