Sometimes, especially in today’s political climate, it’s necessary just to chill and get down. That’s exactly what Denver’s own Mama Magnolia seeks to do. A group that is largely comprised of music school graduates who really know how to maximize the creative art of crafting music—Mama Magnolia embraces, in the band’s own words, the “soulful side of rock” that delivers sultry sounds. CULTURE caught up with Megan Letts, the group’s keyboardist and vocalist, to talk relaxing, rocking and saving lives with cannabis.
How did you get started making music?
As a band, most of us, Carrie McCune (trumpet and vocals), Jackson Hillmer (drums) and Thomas Jennings (guitar) met in music school at The University of Denver, but we’ve all been on our personal musical journeys much longer than that. [The group is also comprised of Zackary Jackson on bass and vocals and Alex Cazet on saxophone.] For me, it was never a conscious decision to become a musician. It was just who I was and who I am. I was surrounded by music as a kid, and I never let it out of my life after that.
“As a user of recreational and medical marijuana, it blows my mind that it is still a felony in other states when it is literally saving the lives of so many people in the world.”
Who are some of your biggest influences?
As a band, we really look towards powerful female-led groups—Alabama Shakes, Hiatus Kaiyote, Lake Street Dive . . . but individually we each have such different musical influences, which makes for a very cool and surprisingly cohesive sound. We also are all pretty obsessed with Anderson .Paak and Chance the Rapper. On long tour drives, Coloring Book [by Chance the Rapper] and Malibu [by Anderson .Paak] will be played at least three times.
Do you have any upcoming shows, releases or projects in the works?
We do! We’re really excited to have a few big shows and a tour on the horizon. We will be playing up at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre on September 16, supporting one of our favorite bands, The California Honeydrops.
We will also be headed on the road early October showcasing our soon-to-be released A-side/B-side singles.
How do you feel about the genre you are a part of?
Genres seem so impossible these days—mostly because everyone is influenced by a melting pot of musicians and musical styles, including us. We like to call ourselves the soulful side of rock—because you know we love to rock out, but never without pouring our souls into it first.
How do you feel about cannabis legalization so far? Could anything be done better or differently?
We are all for it! As recreational users, we love the accessibility we have in Colorado and other states when we’re on tour. We wish it was legal in all 50 states. It blows my mind that cigarettes and alcohol are legal in all 50, yet cannabis is only legal in, what is it—26 states? As a user of recreational and medical marijuana, it blows my mind that it is still a felony in other states when it is literally saving the lives of so many people in the world. How many lives has alcohol saved?
Have you ever worked cannabis into your music as a theme? If so, how?
We have a song called “Something About Fire,” which definitely has a bit of a high theme. It’s the first lyric I’ve written that blatantly says, “Because we’re a million miles high.” And I wasn’t talking about altitude . . . It’s a song about allowing your mind to relax and be stretched to a creative limit that is often hidden, maybe because you’re afraid of it, or maybe because you don’t know it’s there.
How has cannabis affected your life and creative processes?
I am a type 1 diabetic and have been for 15-plus years. There was a period in my life where I didn’t take the disease seriously and didn’t expect it to ever affect me. How stupid that was. Although my diabetes is under control, I suffer from a plethora of stomach issues that have really impacted my life, and cannabis has helped an unbelievable amount. Creatively, cannabis can be a great place to turn to, especially if you’re stuck and can’t get passed an idea, just like I wrote about in “Something About Fire.”
See Mama Magnolia Live
September 14 at New Terrain Brewing Co., Golden
September 16 at Mishawaka Amphitheatre, Bellvue