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An Interview with Jason Edmonds of Magic Castles

Magic Castles
7 December 2014

Photo by Emily Utne
Magic Castles is yet another great psychedelic band from Minneapolis, joining the likes of Chatham Rise, Leisure Birds, and Flavor Crystals (see my review of their new album, Sky Sounds). One of my music friends turned me on to this group, and their hazy, almost trance-inducing brand of psych has been one of the highlights of this last quarter of 2014. Read on for some brief insights with band leader, Jason Edmonds.

Tell us how the band got started.

JASON: Around 2005, I had a spiritual experience in Austin, TX. Long story short, I basically died and was reborn by some dirty old railroad tracks. I realized the moody instrumental “band” I was in was going nowhere, so I quit and started what became Magic Castles.  

How would you describe the progression in your music from your earlier work?

JASON: I would like to think that my music is getting progressively better, but then again, maybe I’m just getting younger and my music is getting older. 

When did the Minneapolis psych scene start heating up?

JASON: Right about 2005 when Magic Castles formed. 

Do you share band members with other bands?

JASON: In my experience, the best musicians are usually in more than one band.

What inspires your songwriting? Art, film, or literature?

JASON: My girlfriend inspires me everyday, all I have to do is think of her and music comes to me. It’s important to be around other artists who are inspiring. Children are inspiring. Traveling and having adventures and going to new places inspires my songwriting.  As for art, film or literature, any time an artist pushes the boundaries of this reality, I am captivated and inspired.  

How did you meet Anton Newcombe?

JASON: The first time I ever met Anton was at the 400 Bar on the west bank of Minneapolis in the year 2000 or 2001. We talked about the band The United States of America.  I doubt he remembers. Years later, he discovered my song “Ballad of the Golden Bird“ on YouTube and started releasing our records.  

Has the band toured outside your home base?

JASON: Yeah we toured the East Coast with BJM in 2012. Since then we’ve been out West a few times. Looking forward to the next one. 

Has Europe taken an interest in your band?

JASON: Yeah, we have a lot of fans over there.

Will you tour behind this most recent album?

JASON: We just toured the West Coast to support the album Sky Sounds and will be hibernating, recording music during the winter months.

How was recording with Neil Weir at Old Blackberry Way?

JASON: Neil is a crazy genius. He hears things no one else does. It’s like he’s a dolphin using sonar. He has all the best microphones, amps and guitars. His recording studio is like a cabin, and cabins make me feel good. There’s something about wood panelling that really sets my mind at ease.

What are you working on now?

JASON: I am currently working on two albums. One for my other band Dead Gurus, and also a new album for Magic Castles. Get ready. Things are getting weird.


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