In Profile: Magic Arm

Marc Rigelsford, aka lo-fi singer/songwriter Magic Arm, talks to us about his new album, atmospheric surroundings and irritating the neighbours…

Magic Arm first came to our attention in 2007 supporting folk-legend James Yorkston. His mesmerising electronic performance back then consisted of Marc alone on stage surrounded by loop pedals. After years of recording at home and touring Europe, this week saw the launch of his acoustic-led second album, Images Rolling.

Hi Marc! Images Rolling is only your second album, but it seems like you’ve moved away into a different sound. Why the change?

When I started Magic Arm it was always my intention to make acoustic-based music, although at the time I didn’t have the space to experiment with, and I found it easier to record electronic music in my bedroom.

You’ve been attracted to more ‘ornate’ venues to perform (churches, cafes) and record in (recording your new material in a ‘part-derelict three-storey house’). Do you think that atmospheric surroundings can directly influence creative output? 

It’s always exciting to play a venue that’s not on the circuit. When Jayne, from the label Switchflicker, put the tour together, she wanted the gigs to feel like ‘one off events’ where people could enjoy the music as well the spaces they are surrounded by. When I was recording, space became as influential as the instruments that I had to hand. The experience was topped by having a lot of time and luckily no neighbours to irritate!

How different has it been writing songs on a piano rather than a guitar? Learning Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is quite an ambitious starting point!

I found that the piano pushed me in a more ‘instrumental soundscape’ direction with less emphasis on writing songs. I’m more comfortable with the guitar as a writing tool, but at the time I was uninspired by it. Trying to learn Moonlight Sonata was a way to get myself used to the new instrument.

You’ve been described as ‘the master of the loop pedal’. What is it about the loop pedal that you love?

You don’t have to buy it a train ticket.

I don’t use the loop pedal as a creative tool in the recording process. It comes out of the cupboard when I’ve finished writing and I’m trying to recreate the songs to be played live. The two sides to music (studio and live) are very separate, I’m always trying to bring them closer together but using a loop pedal is extremely limiting creatively.

You cite Simon and Garfunkel, Yann Tierson and the soundtracks of Michael Galasso as inspirations for the new album; what is it about their sound that you find compelling?

Regarding Tierson and Galasso, it was their instrumental music that really inspired what I was doing. They both had the ability to transport me somewhere great regardless of my ‘writing blocked’ state of mind. With Simon and Garfunkel, So long, Frank Lloyd Wright was on repeat for 6 months. It’s beautifully and softly arranged.

What are you looking forward to this year? Any festivals, gigs or other projects?

I’m hoping to collaborate with someone at some point during this year and have a few UK festivals (Festival No6, Secret Garden Party and Kendal Calling) and a European tour in the Autumn.

Magic Arm’s new album Images Rolling is out now

Catch Magic Arm on the festival circuit, including Cloudspotting 26th July and Kendal Calling 27th July 2013

Posted on 06/06/2013 by thedoublenegative