Inside a Redwood tree off the coast of California; within a tunnel by Snoqualmie Pass; on an airstrip in Marble, Colorado; in a wild daisy field near Crested Butte—these are just a few of the places Los Angeles trio, Magic Giant, recorded its debut album, aptly titled, In the Wind (Washington Square/Razor & Tie). Austin Bisnow (lead vocals), Zambricki Li (banjo, violin, harmonica), and Zang (acoustic guitar, cello) welcomed nature into the fold as their unofficial fourth member.
“It was fate,” recalls Zambricki. “We were scheduled to play all these festivals—Electric Forest, Wanderlust, Lightning in a Bottle—that just so happened to be in really beautiful parts of the country.” During Spring 2016, the boys bought a shuttle bus, converted it into a solar-powered mobile recording studio, added a California King on hydraulics, and fondly named her Queen Elizabeth. “There were spaces of time between shows where we could get creative,” explains Zang. “Using the bus to power microphones, we recorded outside—literally In The Wind—across North America.”
“Living in the city, it’s easy to forget how enchanting the road can be,” Zang adds. “We recorded anywhere and everywhere. There were no ceilings or limits to what we could capture.”
Just before Magic Giant hit the road, their single “Set on Fire” began heating up. Independently released, it went from their studio to #4 on Spotify’s US Viral 50, eventually amassing nearly 4 million streams in less than a year. It became a favorite on Los Angeles radio, hitting #1 on KROQ’s Locals Only. It was after this success that the three-piece landed a deal with Washington Square. Billboard claimed, “With a joyful live show the band is inspiring mass dance-alongs,” while NPR wrote, “Magic Giant captures the energy and spirit of the past few waves of upbeat, passionate indie-folk.”
Magic Giant represents the union of three distinct, dynamic, and diverse artistic voices. Since his childhood in Washington, D.C., Austin obsessively pursued his love of songwriting. He studied classical composition and then went on to write songs with artists ranging from John Legend to David Guetta. New Jersey native Zambricki got hit by a car in junior high, fell into a coma, and once he woke, miraculously learned violin in 4 days through a rare brain trauma reorganization now known as Acquired Savant Syndrome: “If I could go back, I’d throw myself in front of the car,” Zambricki chuckles. Later on he began writing and one of his first songs was featured in the Sundance-awarded film Paper Heart. Born and raised in Los Angeles to Persian immigrants, Zang learned upright bass in grade school before picking up guitar and studying dance. He caught the attention of Austin and Zambricki when they came across online videos of him salsa dancing and were instantly hooked.
The three are an unlikely match, but their magnetic chemistry can get any crowd moving, from a sold out show at the legendary Troubadour to a sunset music or yoga festival audience. The group has recently toured with bands such as Beats Antique, The Revivalists, and Mike Posner.
In The Wind threads together a musical cartography of alternative, pop, and folk. The instrumentation includes (get ready…) orchestral drums, banjo, trumpet, saxophone, harmonica, synthesizers, electric bass, cello, viola, violin, dobro, lap steel, mandolin, and more as the musical and lyrical palettes prove equally vibrant.
“We use whatever instruments are best for the song,” says Austin. “Lyrically, when we get together to write,” adds Zang, “it’s different from what we would have imagined individually. That’s the beauty of co-writing—we become one unique voice we may never have found on our own.”
The road eventually took the band to Atlanta, where they met up with producer Ben Allen to help glue the body of work together. Returning home to their converted 1940’s bomb-shelter studio, The Bunker, Magic Giant put the finishing touches on their debut record. Austin leaves us with, “When people hear our music or experience a show, we want to bring out the most uninhibited version of themselves.”