Photo by Doug Gurr.
Photo by Doug Gurr.

Spotlight: M.A.G.S.

by / Mar. 4, 2015 1am EST

Elliot Douglas is as humble as he is talented. His shiny new project M.A.G.S. came soaring out from the ashes of the Malones, a band Douglas had previously played bass in, which gained quite a substantial cult following. It would seem remiss not to mention the Malones, as their shadow loomed quite largely over the local scene in the wake of their breakup over a year ago. In spite of that, M.A.G.S. glimmers brightly as it’s own marvelous creature, with a sound and feel all of it’s own. Delicate craftsmanship is obviously at play in Douglas’ work. Already his new music has struck a reverberating chord throughout the scene, stealing ears and garnering much attention. “It’s been surprising actually,” he says, “I knew I had a small following that would carry over from my past projects but I was not at all expecting this to be something that would get so much local publicity.”

M.A.G.S. began as a solo project, allowing for Douglas to push his creative boundaries and experiment without limitations. The end result is a collection of catchy, groove and hook-oriented songs that are practically guaranteed to trigger your aural pleasure sensors. His impressive abilities as a composer and songwriter are on full showcase in his latest EP, Cellophane, which was recorded by Nick Borgosz at World of Noise studio. Douglas sings honest and personal sounding lyrics through a light fuzz and reverb, carried by a bright shimmering guitar tone. “I feel most inspired by the people around me, and the way I communicate with others. A lot of my songs are about conversations or happenings between me and a friend or someone close to me. I try to paint a picture of that experience and make it relatable in the context of a song.” This authentic and personal approach opens avenues that cause listeners to identify with the words, and interpret the music in their own respective manner. The open platform for development offers for a world of different opportunities in terms of the places the music is able to go to.

Currently, the songwriting process is all up to Douglas’ personal creative vision. The immediate connection that he has with particular songs is heard most prominently on “Young” off of Cellophane. It is one of his personal favorites, he says, “for its line in the chorus ‘you’re so young and I’m so empty.’ It was about a conversation I had with my younger brother. In short, he asked me for some advice on a situation in his life and as the conversation progressed I found myself receiving advice from him on a situation in my life. It was weird. He had surpassed my understanding of a situation and helped me understand how to deal with it more effectively. I wish I had more tangible advice to give him as his older brother, hence the line in the song.”

M.A.G.S. may have started as a solo project for Douglas, but he has also enlisted a band for live performances, and they are certainly up to the task. “In my mind M.A.G.S. is a project I will always be tweaking and developing. It’s hard for me to stick to writing one genre per say, and I think that will become more apparent as I continue releasing music. As for the live situation, I am extremely thankful and grateful for Adam Lilly and Andy Wesner and their involvement in this project. They are superstars in their own right and I think they are the perfect fit for how I’m writing right now. Going forward it’s very possible you may see a keyboardist or a second guitar at times but for now the three-piece is working well.”

The vast canvas available for the project invites numerous possibilities for expansion. A cartwheel’s space for musical freedom keeps the artist excited and stretching their abilities, in the same sense that it keeps their audience dancing on its toes. “Truthfully, I’ve been making this up as I go. I’ve been in enough bands to know what I don’t want to do, but the best thing about this is just letting things progress organically. I have no intentions of being Taylor Swift-big but the sky’s the limit.” So far, this approach has yielded beautiful results. Douglas has a knack for choosing hooks, selecting the right lyrics for a good chorus, and knitting a song together in a way that almost seems effortless, but is most certainly the opposite. “My writing process is mostly me trying to develop five different ideas at once, hating everything I come up with and picking the best parts out of maybe one of those ideas and developing that. It’s a delicate process that I’m trying hard to perfect. Writing is something that has to happen organically for me. If I force it, I usually can’t write anything I’m happy with. It may sound cliche but the best songs are the ones that write themselves.”

103.3 The EDGE Presents:
Made Violent w/ M.A.G.S., The Slums, + Humble Braggers
Fri, Mar 6 / 7pm / The Studio at Waiting Room / 334 Delware Ave, 2nd Floor 

To keep up with M.A.G.S. make sure to like the Facebook page and follow on Twitter.