By Mia Hughes
Elliott Douglas isn’t definite why the phrase “Command Issues That Topic” popped into his head. It came to him all straight away whereas he was as soon as in an airport earlier than the pandemic, flying dwelling to Los Angeles after visiting household. The rising artist otherwise is known as M.A.G.S. (which doesn’t in fact stand for one thing else, even despite the truth that he jokes that it’s Marijuana and Correct Sex) had most intelligent most intelligent begun engaged on his 2nd album, out August 13, but he knew straight away that he had its title.
“I most intelligent wished to focus on accurate shit,” says Douglas, who has most intelligent turned 30. “I don’t sugarcoat things. I mediate that’s what of us are related to in my tune.” Now, in a vastly assorted world, he’s location to release Command Issues That Topic, one of many most refreshing, intriguing, and merely stress-free indie-rock albums of the one year.
Douglas grew up in Buffalo, Fresh York, and his dad was as soon as a love pastor. One amongst four siblings, he describes his childhood as “sheltered”; they were all homeschooled, and secular tune and TV were heavily restricted. “I didn’t accept as true with a extremely appropriate take dangle of of what was as soon as going down outside in the area for an awfully long time,” he says. “[But] it was as soon as a expansive atmosphere for creativity, ‘motive I was as soon as in a discipline to most intelligent form out myself. I was as soon as in a discipline to accept as true with my self-identity at a delicate younger age.”
As a teen, he gravitated against Christian punk and hardcore bands bask in Relient K and Underoath, which led him to Buffalo’s own punk scene. The predominant reveal he attended was as soon as by a local band, This Day and Age. “It was as soon as that first time I’m in a position to endure in thoughts feeling the kick drum hit my chest,” he says with a smile. “I endure in thoughts on the head of the reveal I started crying, attributable to I had this moment of, this is what I wanna carry out, and I’m in a position to leer it. It’s possible.” From then on, he threw himself into tune, drumming for any band that may maybe well well accept as true with him. “It got to the purpose the effect it’s bask in, I don’t wanna carry out one thing else else. Many of the chums I had at that time began ingesting and going to events, and I most intelligent wasn’t attracted to [that]. I most intelligent had this laser form out tune.”
Just a few years and limitless bands later, Douglas was as soon as rising uninterested in his groups dissolving earlier than ever making it colossal. His tastes were evolving, too; Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar were making waves, and for the principle time, he shed his punk little one anti-radio prejudice and paid attention to hip-hop. In actuality, he stumbled on it made moderately a couple of sense to him. “I’ve continually been in a discipline to design a line between hardcore tune and entice tune, so I was as soon as straight away drawn to that. It’s bask in, oh, the entirety is form of a breakdown, I’m down for that.” Impressed, Douglas felt bask in the time was as soon as appropriate for one thing original, one thing fully his own.
He launched M.A.G.S. in 2015 with the promising EP Cellophane, and in 2017 released his self-titled debut album — both lo-fi garage-rock affairs. Soon after, he moved to L.A., the effect he sofa-surfed whereas working a busy catering job. The total whereas, his tune was as soon as creeping throughout Spotify and YouTube, even a couple of TV placements (Shameless, Teen Mother, The Flash). Issues were slowly bubbling, including his own creative ambitions.
When time came to accept as true with Command Issues That Topic, Douglas was as soon as inspired by both hip-hop and his rising hobby in synthesizers to push his songwriting and production further. “There were masses of times the effect I was as soon as sitting there with some crazy synthesizer patch, and I was as soon as bask in, is that this too distinguished? Is this self-indulgent?” he says. “I seen this video of David Bowie talking on some unhurried-evening reveal, and he typically said if the tune you’re making doesn’t fright you, you’re doing it nasty.” Aloof, he saved his scrappy background shut to coronary heart. “I composed effect shut to listen to the raw, organic tones. I construct now not effect shut to overproduce things. But I wished it to be a little bit extra elevated. It would accept as true with the vitality and attitude of punk, but accept as true with extra colors.”
Recording the entirety himself, the pandemic forced him to work from his small condo next to a busy road in would love to internal a studio as he’d deliberate. It was as soon as now not up to most intelligent, but he channeled the frustration into finding out about digital production and programming. “I’ve continually had the DIY-or-die mentality, so I’m continually gonna fetch a system,” he says.
Command Issues That Topic is a reflective album, inspired by the non-public adjustments Douglas was as soon as facing. He was as soon as going by a breakup, and he explores the internal war that stoked on tracks bask in “Smile” and “Choked Out.” Meanwhile, the yearning jazz meditations of “Staircase” document his homesickness for Buffalo.
Despite the truth that a advanced time, it was as soon as furthermore a time of enhance and self-discovery. “The issue with lifestyles classes is you back finding out them till you learn them. You fetch that there are patterns for your lifestyles — it’s bask in, you haven’t learned what you’re supposed to learn yet,” he says. “I’m finding out to be extra obvious-minded and assured in my selections. I’ve began to let rush of things — realizing that it is possible you’ll per chance well per chance’t be on high of things of the entirety.” He celebrates the route of on the gently stirring “Golden”: ‘Why would I are looking out to shut the identical after I may maybe well well very correctly be golden?’ “This album is a bodily manifestation of my non-public enhance,” he affirms.
It’s furthermore a supreme summer album, from the exuberant opener “Smile” to the mellow, breezy closer “Crack of dawn.” There are soulful ballads (“Beachlove,” “Forever”), and exhausting-hitting rock songs (“Wait,” “Beg”) alongside the system, but its vibes are carefully crafted at every point. “I endure in thoughts a time when making an album was as soon as extra of an art accept as true with. You effect loads extra idea into the system that the waft of the songs goes and the quite quite loads of colors it is possible you’ll per chance well per chance construct,” he says. “I idea it may maybe well in all probability per chance well per chance be frigid if the total album felt bask in an worldwide it is possible you’ll per chance well per chance likely reside in. Especially ending with “Crack of dawn”… I’m in a position to taste that song.”
It’s an album that primes M.A.G.S. for broad things, suggesting he acquired’t continually be the hidden gem he’s appropriate now. Alongside artists bask in Bartees Irregular and KennyHoopla, Douglas hopes he can assist to kickstart a brand original era for Dark rock tune. “Of us wanna direct that rock tune is a white style when, in fact, moderately a couple of rock tune comes from Dark tune. Unbiased now, it’s bask in we’re about to accept as true with a Dark rock renaissance, and I’m mad to most intelligent be a phase of the wave.” Just a few than that, he’s now not looking out too some distance into the long bustle. “Here’s kinda what I’m doing attributable to I in actuality accept as true with to appropriate now. My physique most intelligent has to carry out it,” he says. “I feel blessed to be doing this, and this is what I’ve continually wished. [But] I effect shut to experience lifestyles because it comes. If I mediate too exhausting about the long bustle, I’ll typically time out.”
He continues, “It feels appropriate to be striking this album out in my 30th one year. The total experiences and the classes I’ve learned with my twenties, I’m in a position to originate unusual with 30. I’m in a position to realize into my very own as an person and artist, and leer the effect that takes me.”
“In a roundabout method,” he concludes, “all I’m looking out to carry out is regardless of I wanna carry out.”