A Conversation with Magic Giant
(Austin Bis (vocals), Zambricki Li (banjo/fiddle), Brian Zaghi (guitar/cello))
Austin found Brian because of his salsa dancing videos. How did you find out that he could play guitar and how did you come together?
Brian: I was playing jazz bass with a curly mustache. I guess that’s the only thing that sparked their interest. We started hanging out and jamming at rehearsal, playing bass. Then there was another rehearsal we came to that didn’t have a bass so I played the guitar.
Zambricki (a.k.a. “Z”) : You can’t have a band without a guitar. We knew he played music so it was just about cranking it up.
Your instrumentation is obviously not traditional. Why did you choose these instruments and what’s your musical background?
Austin: We use whatever’s best for the song.
BZ: It actually works in a strange way because we usually only have either violin or banjo, not often put together. It limits the amount of bluegrassy Americana vibe. [Z] can only play one or the other live; it’s helped create a sound by necessity with only three people.
How many instruments do you all play in total?
AB: A dozen.
How many do you switch out on stage throughout a show?
All of them (counting together): Violin, viola, mandolin, harmonica, banjo, vocals, drums, guitar, cello, and keyboard.
Do you bring all of the instruments on the road?
AB: Yeah! And doubles of most of them.
How many festivals did you play this summer?
Z: I thought it was 10, but I’m a guy [who] exaggerates.
Did you have a favorite festival?
Z: Wanderlust (in Tahoe) was huge for us. We played on this tram car that holds 70 people up in the air coming down the mountain. We were doing a private show on top of the mountain after a hike.