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May 14th, 2014 12:01 am WW Staff | Cover Story

Best New Band 2014

10 local artists Portland’s music insiders say you must hear.

IMAGE: Anna Alek



FORMED: 2011

SOUNDS LIKE: ’90s R&B dreamboats getting weird in adulthood.

A year ago, Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott were an Internet-based phenomenon, grinding out difficult-to-define beats somewhere between R&B and the hazy “vaporwave” micro-genre from the comfort of their bedroom. Now, Magic Fades has developed into a bona fide live band, with a fan base flourishing both online and off. But according to the duo, it wasn’t as if they just decided one day to go legit.

“The thing is,” Grabarek says, “people only knew of us online because we played around Portland, but like…”

“...nobody cared,” says Scott, finishing his partner’s sentence.

It wasn’t until the pair played the Dark Arts Festival at Holocene in 2012 that Magic Fades finally began getting quality gigs. At this point, the group has performed in just about every tiny spot in town, as well as popular spaces such as Doug Fir Lounge, Mississippi Studios and Valentines. Magic Fades hasn’t had to change anything stylistically—it’s still making gauzy bedroom music to soundtrack the late-night fantasies of lonely bloggers—but it has adjusted sonically.

“We’ve had to change around a few things in order to mix in a live setting,” Scott says, “instead of strictly listening to something on your computer or streaming a live audio.”

The band is in the midst of creating new music that will showcase “less R&B and more experimental weird stuff.” “We’re trying to get the project as good as we can so we can go shopping around for potential labels,” Grabarek says. In the past, Magic Fades would create a single and release it online immediately. Now, the intent is to build anticipation for a full-length album by curbing the quick-hit uploads. As for when that album will be released, “we’re not sure,” Grabarek says.

Even as they talk about hype, Grabarek and Scott are adamant about staying low-key, in the fear they will be “overbearing about advertising online, which is annoying,” says Grabarek. All of these concerns—adjusting the music to a live setting, figuring how much promotion is too much—are things the duo didn’t have to worry about back in the bedroom days, when online play counts were all that mattered. But the most important thing to Magic Fades now is the same thing it’s always been. 

“It’s all about the beat anyway,” Grabarek says. KATHRYN PEIFER.

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