Artist Focus: Magic Number

Known to many as a Bass Player, to others as a Downtempo Producer and to increasingly more as an Orchestral Composer, Ross Hillard is a Leicestershire, UK native. He releases music under the alias of Magic Number and is celebrating the release of his new album, ‘Badly Written Songs’, available now on Atjazz Record Company.

Ross Hillard first appeared laying down incredibly accomplished bass performances on releases through Derby, UK label, Mantis Recordings. These included tracks on Atjazz albums, and he also provided his talent further afield, appearing on releases on Sonar Kollektiv, Stereo Deluxe, and Flower Records, to name just some.

Around the early noughties, Magic Number dropped the acclaimed debut album ‘That Day’, also through the eminent Mantis Recordings label. A string of singles followed, including ‘That Day’, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Fly Away’. With the “That Day’ album making a transition to Numb Records, and following a reprise featuring remixes from Atjazz in 2013, the Magic Number project seemingly took a hiatus. However, the man behind the project was busier than ever honing his skills. His bass playing, production and engineering capabilities can be heard on releases by Louie Vega, DJ Spen, N’dinga Gaba, Lay-Far and Atjazz, the founder of Mantis Recordings and the eponymously named label behind the new Magic Number release. Ross has also provided bass to Atjazz and Kerri Chandler live sets, pleasing countless crowds across the globe.

Ross opened Paddocks Recording Studios, an impressive setup boasting huge live spaces and cutting-edge technology, integrated with a distinguished array of analogue kit. The studio space features an incredible collection of synthesisers and outboard kit. There’s also a concert grand piano and a fully-restored vintage Raindirk mixing desk. Ross has also developed a superb range of audio plugins using this facility.

And so, Ross’s non-stop musical work, in tandem with his evolving jazz composition skills, brings us to the more sophisticated rebirth of Magic Number: ‘Badly Written Songs” comprises a carefully structured and well-produced array of songwriting, topped with live instrumentation, commanding vocal performances and high-end production. The opening track, being the first single from this album, is the positively-anthemic gem entitled ‘Good Morning Sunshine’. It tells a forward-looking story promoting the merits of getting back into the driving seat of life. It is propelled further by superb jazz-inspired drums and live horns that build up to an exhilarating crescendo. Featuring the vocal talents of Sophia Marshall, the story she paints is supported by a wonderful, darkly humorous cartoon video. An animated cadaver hilariously acts out her notions of positive living.

On the album’s title, Ross explained: “The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to how transient electronic music can be. Thus, writing songs in this genre might not have been the most sensible and sustainable idea”, he laughs. “But I love house music, so it was worth it. I just hope people don’t discard it too soon. And if they do, well, we had great fun and a great journey producing it”, he concluded.

Check out Ross’ 1st album: That Day