Magda Hiller: bio (ish)
The succinct version - ...rhythmic whup-ass...soul-baring, image laden poetry.... fingerstyle guitar, swingy jazz with rich, earthy, shameless vocal mugging... Magda Hiller's career as a musically diverse, intelligent performing songwriter has had her opening shows solo for Chick Corea, Bob Dylan, Dan Fogelberg, Huey Lewis and the News and more. Magda has also shared the stage with Vangelis at London's Royal Albert Hall and Folk legend Odetta at the Ottawa Folk Festival. Hiller has won 'Best Acoustic Performer' and 'Best Solo Act' awards for years from multiple Florida news publications and worked considerably with Warner Bros. Publications as an instructor on their video/DVD guitar, song instruction series SongXpress. The release of her third cd 'Icing on the Cake' shows Hiller's musical growth beyond 'solo' and her ability to 'play well with others'.
This is more story than bio, (and in need of a good edit), yikes!
1st installment - up until age 19 (approx).
My parents were friends of the 'hippies' back in the 60s and after a few of the hippies had come to stay at the house in Coconut Grove, FL I began my quest to learn the guitar. Nat, one of the guys was a player and I HAD to learn. Unfortunately at nine years old I was not disciplined enough and became frustrated.
My folks separated and my mother, sister and I moved to England. At ten yrs old I attended a Rudolph Steiner school, Michael Hall in Forrest Row, Sussex. One of my classmates was Bella Freud, daughter of Lucian Freud and great grand-daughter of Sigmund Freud. Bella was very encouraging to me regarding music. She now is an incredibly successful fashion designer.
I convinced the classical guitar teacher at Michael Hall that I could not possibly read music and that he would have to teach me by letting me watch his fingerings and picking patterns. Poof! I could play everything he showed me, it was great. I then started to learn Cat Stevens and Leonard Cohen tunes when on school breaks, as those were the books that my folkie teacher had, back in London. It was a real sponge time for me musically but had I known then what I know now......yes yes.....I can't remember ONE thing that classical teacher showed me because I didn't learn how to read music! Ahh. I sure did have a love for the guitar and for singing so I pursued the folkie stuff and writing and writing and writing.
I went on to Queen's College in London and had David Bedford as a music teacher. He was good friends with Vangelis and Mike Oldfield and some of us were picked to perform at the Royal Albert Hall w/Vangelis. It was an amazing experience at 14yrs old, or so. We also performed a couple times with Kevin Coyne, who had Andy Summers, of The Police as his guitar player at the time.
After working in the cloakroom at the Marquee Club, I landed a job at DJM Studios. Dick James Music had all of the Beatles publishing and a handful of big acts on their roster, including Elton John, Michael Jackson and John Mayall. That was an interesting time. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were in the studio with their band The Tourists; Dale 'Buffin' Griffin from Mott The Hoople, Roy Wood, Annie Haslam and Renaissance, Bram Tchaikovsky and lots more. Good memories as I type this. DJM Studios closed its doors during the recession and I went on to work for Nomis Studios - rehearsal studio/office rental. It was an amazing space with 24 rehearsal studios, 9 offices, gear storage cages. We had everyone in there rehearsing, Motorhead, The Pretenders, Elvis Costello, Rockpile, Queen, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiki Dee, Joan Armatrading, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, Ultravox, Japan, The Jam, The Vapors, Graham Parker & The Rumour, Asia, King Crimson, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath - good lord it's never ending. I was at Nomis for a couple years and then moved back to the states after almost twelve years in GB.
2nd installment ....After having had such great music biz experience and success overseas I figured I'd do the same back in Miami. It was quite a shock when I encountered the heinous attitude held by the various studio staffers who seemed to float like oil on water. I finally landed a job at a small record company whose name escapes me. I lasted about a year, and moved on to manage a couple of über hip clothing stores in Coconut Grove for a few years. That was when the performance bug burrowed it's way deeper into my subconscious. I started writing more, playing more (at home) and feeling like this was something I really needed to do.
A number of years in the food service business starting with a hotel in South Beach, then a Japanese restaurant and ending with Tobacco Road - the oldest bar in Miami. While working at a small beer and wine place I listened to a female singer/songwriter and felt I could do at least as good of a job.
Out I went with my guitar, onto Ocean Drive in South Beach, after being goaded by my artist mother. It was one of the scariest things I have ever done, I felt completely naked. I went on to perform at various restaurants and clubs in South Beach and Miami. At one of the clubs I was approached by an agent who later booked me as the solo opening act for Bob Dylan, Chick Corea, Huey Lewis and the News, Larry Carlton, Dan Fogelberg, Al Stewart and Richard Elliott. Others were Richie Havens, Louden Wainwright III, Michelle Shocked, The Radiators, Steve Forbert and Iris DeMent.
The sand man has arrived...until the next installment...be safe.
3rd installment ...While working at Tobacco Road I made some very interesting friends, one of whom started my alter-career doing voice overs for TV and radio commercials. He also is responsible for the design of my three cds.
A Coastguard retiree who frequented the 'Road' and was relocating to Tampa convinced me to start touring and that was the beginning of a new life. The drive to get to the 'next level' is quite powerful. The number of immensely talented performers is infinite, as is the number of not-so-talented but very well organized performers. It is an amazing journey, as I sit here smiling. Countless performers, mainly acoustic have left me breathless and they continue to basically live out of their trucks/vans/cars, touring, selling cds at shows and online. Some have benefactors who help them out in hopes of someday hitting something, somewhere. Maybe a song will get picked up by someone famous, maybe songs will be used on a movie soundtrack.
After having married and had a child I wonder what still fuels my sick drive. Something lurking inside that you can't pinpoint but it won't let you stop because each time you think I'm 'done', 'enough' 'let me live a normal life' HA! Sorry, you're doomed for the artist torment.....until next time.
4th installment... One day, sometime in 2000 or so I received a phone call from a gentleman at Warner Bros. Publications in Miami, where I was living at the time. He was looking for a female singer/songwriter to instruct guitar/song for videos. I was told at the interview that they were looking for someone w/the personality of Phoebe from "Friends", I got the gig. It was a most interesting time, including a trip to the NAMM show in California. The series, "SongXpress" is marketed to the person with the guitar shoved under the bed, who wants to play some of the favorites. I believe I recorded four or five videos/dvds, with 4 songs on each.
Until next time, be safe.