Premiere: Blast Into Space W/ Computer Magic's New Vid
It’s not every day that you see a woman dressed up in a spacesuit from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and a toy space helmet from Amazon posing next to a busy intersection. But then again, it is Williamsburg, and this isn’t even her only spacesuit. Only an hour before her bright orange jumpsuit made impact with the Brooklyn streets, Danielle “Danz” Johnson was showing off her dog Max’s tricks, and the Instagram account she created to honor him. It’s a few days before her new video premieres under the stage name Computer Magic, and she’s moving on from showing off Max’s social media presence to sharing music she composed for a Japanese company’s new salad dressing.
After conquering Japan with her unique flavor of electro-synth indie pop, Computer Magic is ready to take on the United States, with a new video straight out of the Mojave. Backed by MADE Music and American Express, Danz is exclusively presenting the intergalactic new video here for her single “Be Fair” off her upcoming album Davos. Before premiering the track’s space age-y video, Milk Made’s Chris Thomas sat on her rooftop lounge to talk space travel, dropping out of college, ski lodges, and running ladies.
Computer Magic is a line from Spinal Tap, right? Is that your favorite movie?
It’s definitely one of them.
What are some other favorites?
Would you ever want to star in any movies or do a soundtrack?
I would love to compose a score for a movie!
Any dream director?
Well, I really love the Coen Brothers. Wes Anderson too, but he kind of just picks out his own songs for his films.
They kind of were! Definitely at the end of the video, but I just really wanted to be in a delorean! Though I didn’t even get to drive it. The sun was starting to set when they brought it out and it was a stick shift, so someone else had to drive it.
That’s so shitty. But at least you got to sit in it! Would you rather do time travel or space travel?
Probably space travel. I would want to go to the Andromeda galaxy, or just a different galaxy than ours. See what it’s like.
Would you go on a manned mission to Mars? A lot of people are into that. You could be the first musician on another planet.
Yeah, why not? I would go do that. I need to buy my Virgin Galactic ticket first.
You’ve been living in the city for a long time. Did you start out going to school here?
I went to Hunter College for a semester but I never really went to any of my classes and I got withdrawn. I thought maybe I should figure out what I want to do before I wasted a lot of money.
Well you’re definitely doing very well for yourself. You started a music blog at age 15, and were DJing by the time you turned 18. How did that start up?
The blog was on this website called Oink, and people would put up torrents of unreleased things, so I would put up B-sides and stuff that got a lot of hits. DJs in the city would email me and tell me that they liked my blog. When I moved to the city I reached out to this DJ and I burned some CDs that had some unreleased stuff and B-sides that nobody had ever heard. I remember DJing my first night and someone came up to me and said, “Can you play something people know?” I was like, fuck I don’t have anything that people know.
Have you been listening to anything lately that’s been giving you inspiration?
Yeah, I’ve been listening to a lot of spaghetti western soundtracks for some reason. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is one specific album I’ve listened to recently. I was listening to the Django Unchained soundtrack too.
Do you have any formal music training or do you just go with what sounds right for you?
I kind of didn’t know that I could make music until I started Computer Magic. I downloaded a program and I was just messing around. I don’t know chords or how to play anything really. I just did it by ear and I showed my mom and she went, “how did you do that?” I just kind of said like I don’t know can’t everyone do this and she said that I had an ear for music. After that I just kept going and keep making everything by ear.
Would you ever try out a new sound or experiment with different instruments?
My parents just bought me a guitar for Christmas last year because I wanted to learn so maybe that will be a new thing.
Maybe next will be a banjo for your spaghetti western album.
Yeah! Why not, right?
So, Davos is your first feature-length album in the US. What’s the story behind the name?
Davos is the name of the old ski resort where I grew up. My dad was the caretaker of the ski area there in Woodridge, NY. In the early 90s it went out of business and the Davos sign and the ski lodge are still there but it’s decrepit. I thought it would be neat to have a title that pertained to my life.
I thought it was either a life reference or a Game of Thrones shoutout to Davos Seaworth.
[Laughs] No but I watched up until the third season but it got so gruesome and I was watching it by myself. I need to watch it with somebody so we can laugh about the gruesome scenes. It was a lot before I went to sleep. Like, I read about the Red Wedding but I haven’t watched it yet. I do draw a lot of influence from fantasy and scifi stuff aesthetically.
In Japan, you have a really large fan base there. How did that start?
I first went to Japan three or four years ago. Tugboat Records and P-Vine Records found my stuff online and asked if they could compile a bunch of my songs and release them as an album there. Of course I said yes because that meant I could go to Japan. It’s funny, because in Japan I’ve put out three full-length records already. It’s the only country where I’ve put out full-length records, andDavos will be my fourth in Japan and my first everywhere else.
In comparison to New York, Japan seems to be more scifi friendly because it’s so cutting edge with technology. How has your experience been there?
It’s totally like Blade Runner walking around Tokyo at night with all the lights and everything. Japan is definitely really awesome.
Would you ever move there?
Yes. Totally. I just need to learn more Japanese. I only know how to say a few things. I can say “I work computer magic” and “shall we dance.” I started doing Rosetta Stonebut the only thing I can remember is “the lady is running” [Laughs]. It’s very useful—just in case!
Computer Magic photographed exclusively for Milk by Andrew Boyle
“Be Fair” available on iTunes now.
Video directed by Mike Dempsey.
“Davos” LP out on October 16th on Channel 9 Records / Kolbalt, available for pre-order on iTunes.