|Hometown||South Beach, OR|
|Genres||Americana / Alt Country, Indie Pop|
|Band Members||Margit Elland Schmitt; Sandra Cadell; Laura Gregory|
Born in the studios of Nashville and Berkeley, Cone of Magic is simply three women, friends forever, singing together as they express what they want and how they see themselves, relationships and power with lyrics that will engage and melodies that will delight. Their sound has been described as Taylor Swift and the Mamas (But no Papas).
And this is their story:
Dan McLaughlin, the producer and the writer of this album, and Margit Elland Schmitt, the principal singer of the group, have had a performing relationship dating back to meeting decades ago at a Renaissance Faire at Black Point in Northern California, about 30 years ago.
Their current joint project is a novel called Maidens Rock which was written with the imperative to write 1660 words a day to meet the NaNoWriMo deadline of writing 50,000 words in the month of November.
Now as 1600 words a day puts a certain pressure upon authors to go off on tangents, they sent one of the main characters off to a club where the cut and paste feature of their word doc was used to write a series of songs by a fictional all girl band of magic users who were suddenly not allowed to use magic. (It made sense in the context of the story.)
They called the band band, for homage and plot reasons, Cone of Magic. Many years ago, Dan was the “roadie” for his good friend Mark Sellin’s band Cone of Silence. He got to help set up (mostly work involving cables); writing fliers and press releases (He had access to a Xerox machine); and in general just show up (there were shows where he was a measurable percentage of the audience).
While at first the lyrics were pedestrian at best (and very heavily laden with many many refrains), they got Dan to thinking about pop music and how a “real” pop song could be constructed, one not overtly funny or too heavily in a musical niche. And the more he thought about it, he tinkered some more with this fictional band and their fictional show, coming up with a series of “songs” which were not really that bad.
Now Margit and Dan have a musical relationship as well as a word relationship. She was the lead singer in his operetta, Oh No, Not Emily, and so when he said, “If I put some notes to these words, would you sing them?” She said, “Yes!”
This put the onus on Dan to put some notes to words. Now, outside of 20 weeks of clarinet in Jr. High School, Dan has no musical training, nor any innate ability to sing. Indeed, he is often hard pressed to hear what makes one note different from another. Or Flat. Or Sharp. Or on key. Or.
You get the idea.
He does have, however, an innate respect of Theory, and a belief that a Good Theory ought to produce Good Music. Based on what Dan had noticed over the years about notes, Dan thought and produced the following Theory of Music (the note part)
1. Start with one note (usually somewhere in the middle).
2. The next note either goes up, down or stays the same.
a. Little gaps between the notes can be pretty, or boring.
b. Big gaps can be interesting, or bad.
4. When you run out of words, stop.
5. Black keys are funny.
That’s it. End of theory.
Now when you think about it, using this schema, when we speak, we are singing. We are making decisions what to do with our voices, up, down or staying the same (also using tone and timing but that has the same up, down stays the same pattern and can easily be incorporated into This Theory).
Songs are simply codified speech.
Dan used this theory and a program called Crescendo to attach notes to words. He ran the words and notes by Margit and through their iterative process made the words better. Dan then found a firm called Supreme Tracks to convert the notes into actual instruments playing what most people would recognize as music. What these people did was simply amazing. He gave them a collection of words and notes and brief description of the song he wanted. They took a collection of words and notes and they then conceptualized the song into its musical components; organized singers and musicians to realize those components, and then recorded those components into a unified coherent song. They gave him musical tracks that to take into the studio to use for Margit and her good friends Sandra Cadell and Laura Gregory to sing to, and wrote out musical parts for live performances. And it was all done for a very reasonable cost.
They all took took those tracks and parts to Live Oak Studio (Berkeley, CA) and its stellar recording engineer James Ward studio who recorded the completed songs.
And thus, Cone of Magic was born.
The ladies of Cone of Magic are:
Margit Elland Schmitt: Margit Schmitt is a classically trained singer who likes tortilla chips, guacamole and long walks on the beach. She has performed in choirs and in musical theater, at Carnegie Hall, and also in the car during road trips. She has subjected her own children to years of lullabies, before branching out to teach library skills to elementary students using musical comedy. This is her first attempt at writing while singing.
Sandra Cadell: Sandra has been fortunate enough to sing theatrically on stage, and has been know to sing for up to 4 -5 minutes before getting caught and thrown off. She uses music and rhythm to teach academic concepts to her Middle School Special Day Class students.
Sandra performs Stand Up and Improv comedy....She tried performing comedy lying down, but kept falling asleep. She also paints and has sold many of her creative watercolor paintings (mostly to those who got tired of her knocking on their doors and whining).
She has had the pleasure of working with Laura and Margit on stage (and has even let them speak from time to time).
She loves her dogs, her husband and her son (but won't say in what order). She has been known to use her many musical and artistic talents in venues like Street Theater events, Renaissance/Fantasy/Pirate Faires, Dickens Christmas Faire and for DMCs in the Bay Area.
She will cook for you too.....as long as you like garlic.
Laura Gregory: Laura Gregory has been singing for a long time. She also likes petting cats and painting mermaids, as well as petting mermaids and painting cats, (although the latter is more difficult and the cats get really annoyed with all that paint in their fur.) She has sung onstage in various folk bands and as a myriad of roles in the musical theatre. When not performing, Laura can be found teaching wee humans to dance and sing, trying to find the perfect taco, or folding laundry.