Magen White stole her sister's guitar. Well, not "stole" exactly. Her sis played it for a couple months, then kind of forgot about it and left the guitar to languish in their house. Five years ago, Magen picked it up and started fiddling. She cut her teeth on bands like Dashboard Confessional and The Get Up Kids.
After making a go in two bands and an acoustic duo (Look Mom No Hands, a collaboration with her cousin), White is on her own, writing, playing without distortion, learning to be witty in front of crowds by herself. She's heading out on the road in November all alone for a tour of smaller college towns.
So what you’re doing now is folk rock? What would you call it?
I call it folk just to be easy, but I would mostly call it acoustic pop rock because it still has the pop aspects. I don't really play folk rhythms or sing about folky things.
You've already been on tour in the Southwest ...
Two, actually. The reason [my cousin] Barry and I started Look Mom No Hands was solely for the purpose of going on tour. We really wanted to travel with music, but we knew we couldn't do it with our full band. We didn't have the money for the trailer or van or whatever. I was like, "Well, I have all these acoustic songs. We could just brush those up and go to Phoenix and Los Angeles." And Barry's like, "OK."
How did you do your tour booking?
We pretty much did it last-minute. We were in Phoenix and we needed a show in Los Angeles, so we called. I've found that it's easy to book things way in advance, like six months in advance, or it's easy to book them two days before. But anytime in between, it's screwed.
Why do you think that is?
I guess it's this sense of emergency. I'm saying, "Well, we're going to be there tomorrow night. Can we please play?" And they say, "I guess we can put you as an opener." That's usually what I do—open for people. People think, "Oh, solo acoustic act. That's an easy opener."
Are you going to try to make a run at this music thing, or is it just for fun?
No, it's fun, but it's what I want to do with my career. I just graduated from UNM in May, and I'm not looking to get a job in my field at all.
What kind of degree did you get?
I got a journalism and mass communication degree for broadcasting. I minored in media arts. I'm just working to make money and pay the bills, but every free moment that I get, I spend writing, preparing to record or recording. I really want to do it for my career as an independent artist or on a label. There's plenty of opportunity as an independent artist to make a living at it. I won't rule that out.
What do you do?
My mom owns a pet cremation business.
Do you cremate pets?
I just do the things she asks me to do.
Does that include cremating pets?
How does your family feel about you wanting to be a musician professionally?
They're all for it. They're totally supportive. They're not necessarily at every show, because I wouldn't expect them to be. My mom's researching things for me and telling me what to do. It's helpful, and I appreciate it. They just really want me to do it. If I say I want to do it, they want me to pursue it with all my might.