Young Magic is Jakarta born Indonesian-American vocalist Melati Malay, and Sydney-born songwriter-producer Isaac Emmanuel. The pair met in New York City in 2010 and began collaborating above a speakeasy in Brooklyn. Alongside original member Michael Italia, the trio signed to Carpark Records (Toro Y Moi, Beach House, Dan Deacon) on the strength of one single (Sparkly/You With Air) and a wave of positive press. Touring in Europe and North America began after a series of limited edition 7″ releases in 2011. The following year brought new visibility, acclaim, and artistic achievement with the release of the group’s full-length album debut, Melt.
Melt was recorded in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, U.S.A., Spain, Germany, Iceland, Australia, and the U.K. while band members travelled independently, collecting field recordings and documenting their experiences. The New York Times described the album as “lush and immersive…it summons an elusive mood of longing among the sonic wonderment.” About Melt, the BBC wrote, “like a beat poet racked by drink addiction; music that waxes and wanes, and explodes; and a great spirit which, rather than confine itself to basements and bedsits, aims its sights on the heavens. An exquisite new breed to behold.”
The band became quickly known for their percussive, cinematic style, as well as collaborations across film, music and visual arts with artists as such as Purity Ring, Leif Podhajsky, and Angus Borsos. Pared down to a duo with varying live collaborators, Young Magic toured the world in 2013 and 2014, including performances at Lowlands Festival, Iceland Airwaves, Berghain, Austin Psych Fest, and the Brooklyn Museum.
The duo’s ambitious second album, Breathing Statues, was released in 2014. Recorded in Morocco, Paris, Prague, Australia, and Iceland, the album gracefully dives headfirst into a more delicate, personal world of sound. AllMusic described Breathing Statues as “far bigger and more polished than their debut…evokes ’60s exotica and ’90s trip-hop with a hypnotic groove that feels like it could go on forever.” Q Magazine wrote: “Alternately dreamlike and arresting, they’ve discovered a formula that realizes the sonic sorcery always suggested by their name.”
In 2015, Young Magic released Remixes Vol. 1—a pay-as-you-feel charity album, with all proceeds going to the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation, an organization facilitating health and arts projects in Australian Aboriginal communities. Contributors included Roland Tings, Teebs, The Acid, Matthew David, and Basquiat’s musical partner, Nicholas Taylor of Gray.
The same year, Malay returned to her birthplace of Java, Indonesia, to begin work on a new collection of music. She rented a small shack by the water and spent her time gathering field recordings and collecting stories from her families’ history. The result is Young Magic’s most breathtaking album to date, Still Life, released on May 13, 2016.