In a "Carpool Karaoke" segment of The Late Late Show with James Corden, the host asks singer Sia why she wears a wig covering most of her face when she performs.
"To try and maintain a modicum of privacy," Sia said. "I thought, 'What doesn't exist in pop music these days?' It was mystery."
"Mystery" is a key word for local band Magic Sword, too (magicswordmusic.com). Magic Sword's music is sans lyrics, members use pseudonyms and perform wearing masks and cloaks, keeping their identity hidden from everyone except, presumably, those closest to them. Maybe even they aren't privy.
From Magic Sword's first show at Treefort Music Fest 2013 to the upcoming show at Knitting Factory on Friday, Sept. 23, which will kick off an extensive five-week tour, the mystery about the band has continued to swirl like a cauldron full of potion—something Magic Sword mage The Keeper of the Sword encourages, yet doesn't let overshadow the band's joy in doing what its does.
What it does is create synth-based music coupled with a narrative detailed in a gorgeous comic book by local artist Shay Plummer. It's an amorphous concept that could have seen Magic Sword tossed on the novelty-music pile if everyone from Plummer and The Keeper to The Seer and The Weaver (the latter three being both comic book characters and band personas) hadn't been serious about what they were doing. Or if they had taken themselves too seriously. Staying in the moment has the band solidly grounded on the line between.
"We want Magic Sword to be an experience," said The Keeper, his convivial tone not betraying the somber good vs. evil vibe of the Magic Sword story.
He said by using visuals like projection mapping and automated light programs, "we're just trying to make it very interactive, rather than just go up and play a few songs and be done with it." Eventually they'd even like to add "fire and fight scenes," The Keeper said, laughing yet serious. "Safely, of course."
If Magic Sword decides to do something, history shows it gets done. The Keeper said his approach to the band's sound as a "spin on movie soundtracks of the '80s" has been intentional from the beginning.
"It's like [the soundtrack for] the show Stranger Things and '80s movies," The Keeper said. "That music just has a feel to it, where you don't have to lay it out for someone. You could have a scene with a person staring off in the distance and the music [allows you] to interpret it however you want. The person could be sad, they could be tormented, they could be having a moment of reflection."
Magic Sword has more than a passing connection to Stranger Things, the Netflix series that recently rocketed into popularity and pop-culture consciousness. The Keeper is a fan of Austin-based band Survive, the creators of the Stranger Things soundtrack, and through management, Magic Sword and Survive talked about touring together.
"I had known about Survive for a few years," the Keeper said. "A few days after Stranger Things came out, a friend said, 'You have to watch this show. You've gotta know who does the music, because it's right up your alley.'"
It is and he did.
"I don't know them personally but having followed them since their first record, I couldn't be happier for them," The Keeper said, adding Magic Sword looked at hooking up with Survive on this tour, but as the Boise band heads east the Austin band will be heading west. "Hopefully we'll connect in the future."
The future looks bright for Magic Sword. Already this year, Red Bull and GoPro used the song "Kill Them All" in a trailer featuring snowboarder Travis Rice; Cartoon Network featured two Magic Sword tracks in trailers promoting the new series, Mighty Magiswords; and Microsoft used the song "Sword of Truth" in a trailer for car racing game Forza Motorsport 6.
Regardless of where the music takes Magic Sword, it's important to The Keeper that it remains open to interpretation. He wants listeners to bring themselves to it, use their imagination and draw their own conclusions. Listening with the Magic Sword comic book in hand enhances the experience by providing insight into the genesis of the music and as well as an engaging story, but isn't meant as a road map.
"I want people to imagine whatever they want," said The Keeper.