Posted On 24 Jun 2019
Get to know Magnus Mia! They are an international music duo from Hong Kong and Rome, featuring Jason Magnus and Mia Schettino. They first met when they were teenagers and went on separate, and quite unusual, musical journeys that has culminated in Magnus Mia today.
Magnus grew up in Hong Kong and studied at Eton College and Harvard University after which he moved to Beijing to start the Beijing Pop Festival, one of China’s first music festivals. He has always felt like an outsider within Hong Kong’s financial environment where he worked and, last year, wrote and sang on a Spotify Top 40 hit with his previous band.
Mia is an award winning composer and studied at the Santa Cecilia Music Conservatory. She previously fronted an Italian rock band, as well as appearing on The Voice Italy, and has written and performed for RAI Television and Canale 5. Her compositions appear on movie soundtracks including Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Learn more about Magnus Mia in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day for you both?
Green tea, most likely Iron Buddha.
Now that we are well into the 6th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 is treating the band so far? What are some goals that you have for this year? How close are you to reaching them?
We released our debut single ‘Jubilee’ in May so that felt like a big moment for us. We plan to release new music regularly from this point on and as a build up to our debut album, which we’re currently working on. But the first big goal was to release ‘Jubilee’, a song that was written a couple of years ago but took a while to choose its sonic dress.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this band together? Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far?
Yes, it was about 4 years ago when Mia was in Rome and I was in Hong Kong. She wrote some music to a poem I sent her which led to our first session of songwriting together. Writing melodies felt very natural and an obvious thing for us to do together. We’ve been expanding our catalogue of music ever since! There have been many surprises but, above all, the reaction from friends and strangers who seem to relate to our intimate musical world. They’re the ones who’ve encouraged us to step out of the shadows. When we see them interpreting the words as their own, that’s the moment we let go and fine-tune another demo to share. The energy by this point is propulsive.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you both carry yourselves in this band?
We both come from chaotic, vivid cities. Whether you’re swept up in the charming local culture and pressure cooker of capitalism of Hong Kong, or overdosing on history and art in Rome, the aesthetic and emotional influence is everywhere for us and totally inescapable because there are both inspiring and reactionary aspects that lead us to create on our own, as well as together.
Why would you say that you two work so well together? Where is one of you weak where the other is strong and vice-versa?
There’s a deep respect for each other that extends beyond the fact that we’ve known one another since we were teenagers. We have hugely different tastes yet can link a thread between these worlds. We’re always listening to each other’s ideas and welcome any influence the other wants to share. We’re both super curious people and this means a lot of inclusivity when we create.
How does this duo’s sound compare to each of your other groups that you have been a part of over the years?
The sound is more direct, less elaborate, with a greater focus on lyrics and melody. We’ve abandoned old tendencies to over layer tracks with loads of instruments and sounds and try to get to the core of what we want to say.
Let’s talk about your newest single “Jubilee.” What was the inspiration for this track? How would you say that it prepares listeners for more music from this duo?
‘Jubilee’, literally representing a rare celebration, is a special song for us as it was one of the first we wrote and produced together. Its lyrics deal with lost love and hope, with abandonment in between – so it’s not the lightest of topics! I’d rather not get into too much detail on the meaning of the words though I will say that Chris Cornell, rarest and most versatile of singers, is the risen ‘fresh tendril’ in the song. It’s a song that works just as powerfully with only piano and voice and is definitely one of our slower songs and introduces our sound in an honest way.
Do you have plans to release more new music soon? How will “Jubilee” compare to your new material?
Our 2nd single is called ‘Fool’s Mirage’ and comes out in early July. It’s like a romantic EDM tune and much more upbeat than ‘Jubilee’ and is one of the most electronic beat heavy tracks we’ve done. Like ‘Jubilee’, the lyrics still deal with nostalgia but there’s more storytelling rather than introspection. We’d love it if it made people hit the dancefloor…
Where do you think you are both happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
We love studio time as much as we love playing live. But I do think we’re happiest writing songs in the kitchen while eating Shanghainese dumplings.
What has been a favorite show of yours to date? What do you think makes an ideal performance for this band? Where are you excited to play at next?
We enjoy playing small venues and really love house concerts where people can tune into the soft frequencies and silences. Eventually we’d love to take our music to a larger audience because we feel the development of the songs expanding our own idiosyncratic world.
How do you think being musicians and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today?
Its blissful being in a duo with your best friend. There’s an emotional telepathy so anything that comes ‘to heart’ can easily be translated and externalised into music.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
Our music does not intend to reflect any specific period nor does it address a particular political matter. However, as we are writing during this politically charged time period, our songs are also a result of this. There may be nostalgic elements to the music, and there may be allusions to current affairs, but we try not to preach and would rather our audience feel their own way through our music and come up with their own conclusions and experiences. This is the freedom and catharsis we get from creating and then sharing.
Who would you love to work with in the future? Who are some of your favorite artists right now? What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this duo?
Hugo White from The Maccabees is a great producer. Marta Salogni is a great mixer. Sevdaliza and Grimes’ recent works are fantastic. Deafheaven is turning black metal on its head and making some of the most emotionally conflicting and powerful records right now. It’s tragic that XXXTentacion is gone – he brought an indie sound to hip hop that was just so unique. Bruce Springsteen’s newest singles are probably his most cinematic and some of his best songs since Tunnel of Love. The National, Nick Cave, Nine Inch Nails…all of these artists would be a dream to collaborate with.
Where would you love to hear your music being played? A TV show, a movie, in your favorite store, etc…?
We both love cinema and it would be amazing to hear one of our songs pop up in the latest Stephen Chow or Matteo Garrone film. Obviously it would be incredible to hear our music in a Netflix documentary or TV show. We’re big fans of radio, so stopping at a red light and hearing someone tune into one of our songs on their car radio would make us very happy.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Warmth, freedom, pensiveness tinged with hope.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about your music?
There’s so much more to come so please tune in!