By Spike Brendle
On the road with Memory Tapes and School Dance, Danielle “Danz” Johnson (a.k.a. Computer Magic) brought her sci-fi-infused electro-pop to Phoenix for the first time. You wouldn’t have thought so, as she had a great turn out, on a Sunday night at that! Before the show we sat down in the lounge at Valley Bar and had a nice chat.
Spike: Where are you from?
Danz: I grew up in upstate New York, the Catskills. Right now I live in Brooklyn.
Spike: When did you start writing music?
Danz: About five years ago, I was doing DJ work in New York and decided I needed a break. I left the city and moved to Florida to spend time with my mom. I spent about six months there and started recording songs in my room, just for myself. After posting songs online, people started liking what they heard and it took off from there.
Spike: I first heard the song “Running” on Spotify in one of my black hole adventures looking for new music and was immediately hooked. Was there any specific motivation or purpose behind that song?
Danz: Ha, I wrote that song in 2011. I think I was watching a lot of Blade Runner at the time. I remember recording that song in my closet, trying to hide away because I didn’t want anyone to hear.
Spike: Who are some of your main musical influences, and what about that do you incorporate into your music?
Danz: I like Kraftwork, and of course The Beatles and Frank Zappa. Also I love Sci-Fi. Sci-Fi is a big influence in my music.
Spike: You have spent time in Japan; what was that like?
Danz: I’ve released three full length albums and toured there four times. They are really into my music and I would love to go back and play there again.
Spike: Where haven’t you played that you would like to go?
Danz: I would like to play everywhere. I am happy to play at a dream venue like this. Every venue is a dream venue. I love to travel and I think I mostly would love to play in South America or Nepal.
Spike: Only because I am a festival junkie, what was the biggest festival you’ve played? What was your favorite fest you’ve been to not as a performer?
Danz: The biggest festival I’ve ever played at was Primavera in Barcelona, Spain, which was amazing. My favorite festival I’ve ever gone to as an attendee was Glastonbury…2013?
Spike: Are you recording now? Do you have any plans on releasing anything new?
Danz: Yes, actually I finished a full-length record with producer Claudius Mittendorfer (Franz Ferdinand, Interpol, STING) which is set to come out sometime closer to the end of the year.
Computer Magic took the stage second, and as I was told earlier, she would be accompanied by live drums. When translating from electronic to live drums, no matter how clean and solid a drum machine can be, it’s the feeling of live drums that really can take the music to the next level. Combine that with Johnson’s stage presence and energy and her songs really came to life. (Not to mention being showered by futuristic colors and shapes via projector). During “Shipwrecked,” Johnson escaped from behind her keyboard and jumped right up to the edge of the stage, engaging with the crowd as she pulled us through with dreamy, almost psychedelic vocals and a powerful, driving drum beat behind her. She ended her set with “Running,” which left the crowd in synth-pop bliss, chanting for more.
Come September, you will be hearing a lot more about Computer Magic. She will be playing at Splash House in August with the likes of Slow Magic, Tokimonsta, Com Truise, and many more out in Palm Springs for probably the best pool party anyone will ever go to. Hopefully, she will make her way back through Phoenix again by the end of the year. But in any case, I consider myself lucky to see her in such a small venue.