Relying on yourself may seem like a lot of pressure, but experimental composer Magella is here to tell you it’s the least you can do.
Based in Montreal, Magella Skerritt released her debut EP Checkmate earlier this month. It’s six tracks of catchy R&B-infused, indie rock, jazz-electro pop that provide an edgy take on putting yourself out there. When Magella sings “Sweetheart, don’t let yourself down” in the track “Dirty Ice,” she’s not preaching about re-evaluating your life choices—she’s saying you have to have your own back no matter what, through thick and thin.
“Everybody has to be centered with themselves,” she tells BTRtoday. “They have themselves and they have to know they have their own goals and own view on how they wanna live and they should go listen to themselves, not anybody else.”Magella, “Afro Blue” live
Magella grew up in Ottawa surrounded by music. Her parents took her to the local blues festival every year. She even got to catch the late great Etta James and developed a love for jazz musicians who tell stories in their music. She studied jazz in college but eventually started DJing and grew a love for electronic and experimental music. Now, she’s currently into trip-hop and late ‘90s bands like Tricky, Massive Attack, and Portishead. Her ever-evolving taste in sound is evident in her own genre-boundless music. But the jazzy storytelling she started with is never lost.
“I’ve always been around it [music] and I’ve always been listening to records and genres of different music—my house was always like jazz, R&B, and also a little bit of rock,” she says. “I really want to try to kind of continue that [jazz influence] but also mix in a lot of experimental stuff that I’ve been listening to.”
Her debut EP brings a whirlwind of emotions from deep down in Magella’s heart out and into the open. As a solo artist, that vulnerability can be scary. She admits it felt invasive of her personal space when she first released Checkmate, but now she feels like she was able to love and let it go.
“I picked the title as a reflection for myself and my own goals,” she says. “[But now] it’s out there, it’s for the people to hear, it doesn’t belong to me anymore.”
Magella plans on doing more Instagram live performances and hopes to start playing live in September when more venues and festivals start to re-open. In the meantime, listen to her debut EP Checkmate and the entire interview with Magella on this week’s episode of The Music Meetup.