Gunnar Madsen, aka MCMGM, is a Lion of alternative and art music, a Grammy nominee with over 20 releases spanning decades and multiple genres.
As a songwriter/arranger for acclaimed international sensation The Bobs, he broke the precious norms of vocal music and spawned an acapella renaissance.
His Off-Broadway musical based on the life and work of The Shaggs was praised as “Unsettling, disturbing, challenging, even a little awe-inspiring” by the New York Times.
His bizarrely witty albums for children have won every major award.
You’ve heard his music in Sex and the City and on The Tonight Show; he’s appeared on major concert stages in Europe and North America. He’s written for the Minnesota Opera, Lincoln Center, Universal Pictures and National Public Radio.
Gunnar’s restless breaking of musical borders led him into the world of electronic music, and to the creation of MCMGM – an ‘alter ego’, setting his vast musical knowledge and style against a modern electronic sound, creating something unique within the electronic music genre.
Nerve Net; Clap! Clap!; Plaid; rAHHH; Teeth Agency; Vegyn; Rian Treanor; Four Tet; Herbie Hancock; Photay; Sophie…
Sly Stone in the corner of the kitchen mumbling grooves, the shoosh of his boots on linoleum, lighting candles with his bare hands, dancing while doing the dishes, anti-acapella, head-bopping heart-stopping regular regular super.
Music composed by MCMGM
Mastering: Myles Boisen
Special thanks to:
Øystein Halvorsen (NRK) “Try a harder and more prominent kick”
Brendan Milburn “Make it Wetter” and “Valhalla software – gotta try it”
The SFEMM meetup group “Kidday MUST have a ride cymbal, and let the drums go crazy in the middle”
Prof. Dean Suzuki, Ph.D minimalist (SFSU) – for broad inspiration and record label ideas
Lindsay Ballard – generous genre help.
Who are the band members and what do they play?
Gunnar Madsen, as MCMGM, plays the computer – Plugins, keyboards, sound generators, sound modifiers
How and where did you get together?
Gunnar Madsen met the electronic side of himself in the years leading up to the pandemic; prior to that he’d made his mark exploring acapella with The Bobs and writing rock to classical music for stage (Off-Broadway), video games (Atari), television (Sex and the City) and films (The Break-up). During the pandemic he embraced the computer as an instrument fully of itself, and churned out 2 full albums of electronic work
What are your main influences?
I’d like to think I made this music in a vacuum, but, really… I’ve recognized some resemblances to the musics of Nerve Net; Clap! Clap!; Plaid; rAHHH; Teeth Agency; Vegyn; Rian Treanor; Four Tet; Herbie Hancock; Photay; and Sophie
Have you played any notable gigs, festivals or other events? Likewise radio or TV appearances?
As MCMGM? No. As Gunnar Madsen I’ve appeared all over – The Tonight Show, BBC, RAI, major stages and festivals across North America and Europe.
Are there any other interesting or amusing happenings – no matter how small – that you have been involved with that would be of interest to those who like your music?
My young teenage son taught himself Logic Pro and was cranking out heavy Dubstep grooves, and he showed me how he did it. He would twist knobs, modify sounds with chains of plugins (4 compressors in a row, anyone?), and make music without caring what the ‘notes’ were, in the process creating amazing new sounds. My first attempts at creating like this were stumbling, but eventually I grew to love this new way of composing and listening for new sounds.
Do you have any favourable quotes from previous reviews that you’d be happy to share?
Reviews of Gunnar Madsen’s music:
“Unsettling, disturbing, challenging, even a little awe-inspiring.” New York Times
“For anybody serious about experimental music” AMZ Musiczine
“As witty as all get-out and often unexpectedly touching” Los Angeles Times
“Spinning World is, in a word, magnificent” BabySue/LMNOP
“By far the best instrumental piano album to cross this desk this year” Wildy’s World
“Breathtaking in its delicate musicality” Parents’ Choice
Where was the album recorded and who was involved in its production?
It was recorded in MCMGM’s backyard studio. He enlisted the help of various composer friends for help with the mixes, and relied on Myles Boisen for Mastering.
Is there a particular ethos behind the album or any particular music styles or events that inspired it?
It was freeing to leave behind lyric content and focus only on the sound, and generate music that would inspire dance and motion yet avoid being overly simplistic. Rave with brains, maybe?
Can you tell us a bit about some of the music?
“Straight Six” is like a samba that’s been stripped down to the most basic beat – it still has a bubbling energy quality, but it’s grounded and heavy, so it can shake things up on the dance floor. “Kidday” is jazzy and swinging, a throwback to Weather Report or Herbie Hancock, but again, heavier and aimed at current dance music audiences.
Were there any notable or amusing happenings surrounding the recording/production of On The Floor?
While many musicians I know hunkered down and made pandemic albums that embodied the mood of the pandemic, I found myself wanted to write something more uplifting for these times of trouble. This pandemic has been super hard for my family and my home – I suppose writing music of a lighter character was a way to not sink deeper into gloom.
Please provide a one or two-line personal quote that can be attributed to a band member, about either the band themselves or the release. Obviously the more eye-catching this is the better.
“Lockdown has been a new experience for most of us – I needed to dance, to move, to get outside myself and the confines of the lockdown”.
Not yet, it was only released yesterday!
Send email to: mcmgm at gunnarspot dot com