An interview with Stella Vander of Magma

Like a primal scream rising from the core of the earth; just one apt description for the unparalleled sound of French progressive rock outfit Magma, a band fast approaching fifty years in music, with a sound that is as exciting today as it was on their first studio LP. The vision of founding member and current bandleader Christian Vander, the group were formed in Paris in the late sixties and began realising Vander’s musical vision with successive studio albums. Their music became known for the unique language in which it’s lyrics were written, Kobaïan, as well as the force and dynamism of their music.

Vocalist Stella Vander joined the group in 1973, appearing on the album which many consider to be one of their finest, M.D.K.. Discussing the album, Stella said: “Introducing a chorus gave the band this really unique touch and put it closer to the way Christian composes in the first place; a piano, a voice.” 

Director and producer Giorgio Gomelsky produced the record, which Stella believes aided it’s success. “Giorgio helped the band to get international recognition, this was a giant step for us at that time.”

The album preceded an era of intense creativity for the band, between 1974 and 1979, during which the band released a further four studio albums. Today, they are just as driven as they were then. “This is what we do!” says Stella, “Create music, play music; we’re not really interested in anything else, so… there’s always something to learn, especially in the studio where tech specs are evolving real fast!”

They began The Endless tour over 18 months ago, and have taken their show to cities it had never previously visited. Addressing what has been the biggest revelation of the tour, Stella proclaims “Discovering that we have many fans, especially young fans, in all places we went to. Especially China, we were amazed to see that they were really waiting for us and how they managed to find and buy records.”

Those fans helped to raise over $25,000 for a new film on the music of Magma, called ‘To Life, Death and Beyond’. Discussing the film, Stella said; “The director is an old fan that we met in the early eighties, he had a record store and organised a Magma concert in the west of France. We became friends and kept in touch even though he moved to Canada 30 years ago. A film about Magma was his goal to achieve since many years, I think he want to realease it in 2017.”


Magma return to Manchester this week, playing two consecutive shows here at Band on the Wall on Thursday and Friday. Expect “a different “encore” each night” and material from throughout the Magma catalogue.