Boomkat Product Review:
RIYL: Bjork, Grimes, Death Cab for Cutie, How To Dress Well.
"Minna Choi’s music inhabits an alternative universe, a place where sound is unfettered by limiting categories, free to drift between rock, pop, classical, electronic and ambient music, following its own impulse to explore the infinite possibilities of melody and meter. The sensibility she brings to the songs she composed for her eponymous debut album, Magik*Magik, was honed by her work as the Music Director of Magik*Magik Orchestra, a group she started while attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2008.
When she told fellow students about the session work she’d been doing at recording studios in New York City, they got excited about doing studio work themselves, so Choi put together a string orchestra that would work with people outside of the classical sphere. “We started doing session work for rock bands, hip hop artists and pop singers, to create a name for ourselves,” she says. Shortly after they got together, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood hired the orchestra to support a performance of his classical piece, “Popcorn Superhet Receiver.”
The sold out concert launched their career. Since then, they’ve recorded with hundreds of artists, toured with Pop-Up Magazine scoring the live stories, contributed music to video games (Iron Man 2) and film scores (Looper, The Dam Keeper), written and performed string charts for Death Cab for Cutie’s Codes and Keys album and backed the band on stage. “Ben (Gibbard) handed me 20 songs from their back catalogue,” Choi says. “I wrote the charts and we toured with them for six weeks.” Recordings or that tour were released as a collaborative album, Death Cab for Cutie & Magik*Magik Orchestra. Impressed by her string arrangements, Death Cab’s founder, Chris Walla, encouraged Choi to start writing songs and said he’d release an album of her music on his label, Trans- Records. Choi cut the basic tracks for the album in LA, with the help of producer/composer Nathan Johnson. “He unlocked my songwriting and encouraged me to make interesting statements and not water down the dissonances or weird voicing’s.”
When the templates were complete, they overdubbed live bass (Jason Muscat) and drums (James McAlister from Sufjan Stevens’ band), Choi’s vocals and the string and horn arrangements she wrote, played by her colleagues from the Magik*Magik Orchestra. Violin master Rob Moose, of yMusic, contributed the sad, subtle arrangement that makes the free time ballad, “Laugh A Lot,” so touching, with Tom Krell (How To Dress Well) adding his harmonies to Choi’s poignant vocal."