Musicians and other artists are constantly told to be true to their roots.
This poses a dilemma for someone who is somewhat unclear about their roots. Many artists will tirelessly search and travel to find this, and in such cases, a musician is left with even richer material; their journey to find identity. Melati Malay’s journey is the inspiration for her band, Young Magic’s latest album Still Life. Filled with cultural influence, rich lyrics, and a genuine passion, Still Life is truly a modern masterpiece.
Young Magic — Beauty Born of Journeys
It was Malay’s complicated and confusing family history that inspired her to search for an understanding of her roots. Raised by parents of different faiths and educated in an international school, diversity was a crucial part of Malay’s upbringing. Her search led her to produce the blend of Asian and new-age influences with electronica for Young Magic, a blend that characterizes Still Life. Her unique exploration of electronic pop mixed with cultural and folk inspiration produces a sound that will not only characterize the band, but make a name for them.
“Lucien,” the second song on the album and its lead single, is probably the best example of the influences in Young Magic’s music. It’s a type of dark elegy — “Lucien, oh Lucien / So full of life” — with noticeable Asian and electronica influences.
“IWY” has a tribal feel to it, and uses a subtle string background. Its refrain, “I want you,” is rendered with a dissonant tone, making it sound almost ominous. “How Wonderful” is a song of reflection, with lyrics expressing a longing to change past actions. It’s driven by an eerie, energetic passion that characterizes intense feeling. “Homage” starts off with an ominous, tension-building introduction with a subtle, steady drumline. Its lyrics, “Didn’t I tell you I / I’m on your side?” express themes of loyalty, themes Malay explores throughout the album.
While being “true to your roots” may be an important practice for an artist to adopt, they can only do that when they know what those roots are. For Malay, there was something much deeper than her roots that inspired the creation of Still Life. Malay found inspiration in the journey to discover her roots, and as many say, it’s the journey, not the destination that matters.