Feng Jiang


Magi Merlin's "No Ego" Is Funky & Great Life Advice

The Montreal musician’s pop is unpredictable and exciting.

You never know what you’ll get when you listen to Magi Merlin. When the Montreal-based musician came onto the scene in 2019, she was hammering out woozy, psychedelic neo-soul tracks that leaned left. Since, her sound has gradually morphed, incorporating rap, elements of electronica, and dance, creating one ever-shifting sonic palette. Her latest release, “No Ego” — premiering on NYLON below — is even more slippery to define.

Opening on peppy cheerleading chants in the vein of “Hey Mickey,” the song slowly morphs into a funky, pulsating thing with a soulful pop center. Merlin’s voice, appearing on the track as energetic chants and soulful crooning, and at times compellingly overlapping, keeps everything unpredictable and exciting. It’s all in line with the message of the song: make up your own rules in life as you go along.

“I go through these phases in my life where I am obsessed with various topics and I research them like crazy. It’s super cyclical,” Merlin tells NYLON of the song via email. “During the period where ‘No Ego’ was born, I was very entrenched in spirituality and astrophysics. I was reading Eckhart Tolle and books by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan and just absorbing a lot of content like that.

“During this period I came across the concept of Optimistic Nihilism. It was so refreshing to me to be able to find a sense of meaning in life that felt simpler than the previous meanings I had assigned to my life. Essentially, nothing matters, but that is so incredible because that means that the only job I really have is to have as best of a time existing as I can, help where I can, be less hard on myself, and love freely. To me, it’s a very liberating way of seeing my life. I wrote ‘No Ego’ as a reminder.”

“No Ego” is off of Merlin’s forthcoming EP Gone Girl, out on Friday, May 27. The project includes her previous eclectic singles, “Pissed Black Girl,” and “Free Grillz.” Hear “No Ego”, and learn more about the singer in a Q&A, below.

What are you up to right now — describe your surroundings.

Right now I’m supporting Noga Erez on her European tour so, currently, I am sitting in a cafe called Coffee Run in Dublin, Ireland. There is a 2010s playlist on right now that is relentless, nothing but Ke$ha and LMFAO spinning — it’s wild. It’s a four minute walk from the hotel. There really isn’t much around apart from a highway and some houses. It's an interesting vibe, honestly. On the walk over to the coffee shop I made eye contact with a young Irish boy on the empty street. He was on a scooter and sucking on a pink balloon. He started scooting next to me asking where I was headed. As I began to answer, he quickly pivoted the conversation and was like: “Can you buy me cigarettes if I give you the money?” This whole encounter legitimately felt staged, I can't lie. Like, you can come out John Quiñones of What Would You Do?

“No Ego” is off your EP, Gone Girl. Did you draw inspiration from the book/movie?

I definitely did! I had thought of naming my project Gone Girl because of a track that is no longer on the project called “Too Chill.” It was a track that took a satirical look at the idea of what a woman should be in the eyes of the patriarchy and toxic masculinity. A few lines were: “Waking up on the right side of the bed/ Call me crazy but I love giving you head /We’ll talk another time/ I’m just always so/ Damn cool about it.” I felt like the idea of the film and book of Gone Girl played with those same observations. Especially in the infamous “Cool Girl” monologue. But now, as the project aged, Gone Girl has grown to be more than that. Gone Girl is now more of a symbol of strength and personal growth within myself as an individual, and I think that Gone Girl could be co-opted by anyone who wants that strength for themselves. The Gone Girl is now the strongest version of myself.

How did you begin making music?

I’ve always been very attracted to writing since I was very young. Before I was able to write for myself, around 5 or 6, I would have dreams of poems and would ask my mom to write them down for me. As I grew up I would get obsessed with certain songs; and the way I felt like I could get as close to the feeling they would give me was by recreating that which I was so enamored with! Music has always been my goal but I was really able to find who I am as a musician by collaborating consistently with Montreal producer funkywhat. Thanks funky! :)

What's the last album you played in full and really enjoyed, and why did you like it?

I listened to Kendrick’s new project Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. I’ve only listened to it once so far but there are some gorgeous tracks that stuck with me heavily on the first listen! (Which isn’t too much of a surprise since Kendrick Lamar is Kendrick Lamar.) I’m always very impressed with his delivery versatility. Each track is its own universe while always tying itself back into the overarching theme of the project. For a first listen I really enjoyed it and I’m excited to dive back in and listen for everything else that I missed.