For Magenta Moody, each day starts with a chill morning routine.
The Roseville EDM-dream pop artist combines java and Mary Jane to soothe the senses and calm the mind on her latest carefree, reggae-inspired single, “Coffee and Reefer.”
“I love to make a nice cup of hazelnut coffee, pack a raw cone and head to my balcony to start my day. I have a beautiful balcony, and the trees are so dense that you can’t see the surrounding neighbors or anything for that matter,” said Mercedes Jefferson, aka Magenta Moody.
“It’s just trees, sunlight and a couple of very vocal birdies. Coffee picks me up and warms my soul while smoking soothes my nerves and clears my mind, so the combination is magical.”
Moody quickly creates a magical three-minute “Coffee and Reefer” escape for listeners as stormy beats, jingling tambourine, placid synths, light hand claps and breezy bass seep into the body and mind.
She shares, “I know I’ve been really sketchy/Bad decisions seem so tempting/I’m just you, and you’re my best me/You’re my best me/I’d like to meet ya/Coffee and reefer/Hot like a fever/I’d like to meet ya.”
“The song is meant to be a light, feel-good song, and I want people to start their day on a bright and chill note. I wrote ‘Coffee and Reefer’ on the aforementioned balcony, of course. Besides my car, it’s my favorite place to write,” Jefferson said.
Moody also released an alternate version of “Coffee and Reefer,” which features guitarist James Miller playing thoughtful, deep-tone electric strums alongside her echoey vocals.
“I was looking for a guitarist to a do a show with me, and James responded to an inquiry I posted. We’ve been jamming ever since. As we practiced in my living room, I showed him my version of the song,” Jefferson said.
“His interpretation of the song that he played in response to hearing it was so beautiful. He asked if I had recorded yet and insisted on being part of it. I think he adds a groovy, yet alternative vibe, and his instrumentation fits perfectly with the lyrics.”
Moody recorded both versions of the track at Parallel Sounds Studio in Sterling Heights with engineer Tony Boguth. The original version features production by SYBLYNG and mixing by Mark Ringold Jr., aka Krypto Divine, while the alternate version is mixed and mastered by Boguth.
With both versions of “Coffee and Reefer” out, Moody wants to record a video with a “That ‘70s Show” concept and feel.
“It could be some friends and me sitting in a circle getting a smoke session in like they do in every episode. I’d love to work with Joe Hendo again or Tiffadelic Media to make the vision come to life. They both are great with creative direction and execution,” she said.
The Midnight Club
Moody also lends mesmerizing creative direction and execution on her 2020 nocturnal EDM-dream pop debut EP, The Midnight Club. The haunting, infectious four-track project beautifully tackles the shadowy side of romantic relationships, inner thoughts and personal experiences.
“The Midnight Club was a darker time, and it shows in the production and the beats that I chose, and the tone I wanted to use for it. I started writing the EP as it was approaching Halloween time, so I was already in a spooky mood because it’s my favorite holiday,” said Jefferson, who dropped the EP last fall.
“It was getting colder outside and darker a little earlier, and it was chilly and leaves were rustling. I love sitting in my car and writing my music there, so I would spend nights observing the atmosphere of pre-Halloween time.”
Moody’s enticing opener, “Risk It All,” fittingly captures the sinister feel of fall nights and unexpected attraction as oscillating eerie synths, fluttering shiny beats, thumping electronic drums and bouncy bass creep into the soul.
She reveals, “Call me on a late night/Tell me that you’re outside/You bring out on my bad side/Always on my bad side/But I guess that’s all right/I don’t want to face the world alone/It’s a scary place, and some may say/You’re the one I should be fleeing from/Even though you know I’d risk it all.”
“All of my music takes a fantasy turn one way or another. I’m so into sci-fi and fantasy shows, and I’m inspired by the ‘Teen Wolf’ soundtrack. They were the first to incorporate some EDM music into their soundtrack, and it was a popular teen fantasy show,” Jefferson said.
“It starts out as a personal experience, and then I’m in a ‘Teen Wolf’ episode. I also watch ‘The Magicians’ and the original ‘Vampire Diaries’ shows. If a show has some fantasy or some magic in it, then I’m probably watching it.”
Moody also released a dark fantasy-inspired video for “Risk It All,” which follows her wandering through a scary space as nature, cityscape, geometric and Halloween images are shown behind her. Directed by Joe Hendo, the video was filmed at a Ferndale warehouse that featured different projections in each room.
“I was looking at haunted attractions and calling apple orchards, and I was going crazy trying to come up with a key atmosphere for what I wanted to do on a budget,” she said.
“I reached out to the warehouse in Ferndale, and they said, ‘Just buy tickets for the attraction, and you can do whatever you want when you get in there.’ We had the whole place to ourselves, and it was perfect.”
Moody continues to capture a ghostly, midnight feel on “Forever” as spooky synths, pounding electronic drums, slithery bass and somber beats chase unrequited love.
She reflects, “I know you wanna/See something that you’ll never seek/No one’s ever looked me in the eyes (the eyes)/This love is stronger/Than any love you’ve ever had before/Till death do us part don’t apply.”
“I wrote ‘Forever’ first, and I was like, ‘Ooh, I love this vibe, and I wanna do a whole EP with this same vibe.’ It was right after I wrote ‘Hot Air Balloon,’ and I was still in a thorough writing phase,” Jefferson said.
“It was my baby because I was still learning how to write and experimenting with different tracks, and I came across that track on YouTube because it was an EDM-y one.”
Moody worked again with Hendo on an ominous video for “Forever,” which showcases her holding skulls and dancing past rows of bones and a coffin in a small lair. It nicely captures the retro feel of a campy ‘80s horror movie being viewed on VHS.
“It was filmed at the Anatomy of Death Museum in Mount Clemens, and I came across it and the super cool people who own the place. I went there and sold them my idea, and we used the place while it was closed,” she said.
Outside of the Halloween-inspired videos, Moody eloquently recreates that spiritual Midnight Club feel, thanks to the talented production of SYBLYNG (“Risk It All” and “Losing My Mind”) and Jaren V. Pouncil (“Villain”) and engineering from Ringold.
“I came across those tracks from SYBLYNG, and from there I picked out my spookiest ones I could find. SYBLYNG’s production style is so dead-on with how I write, and the songs were written really fast,” she said.
“I’m like, ‘Ooh, I like this beat, and I got a melody and a verse for it.’ The beats were a good balance between being relatively upbeat, dark and quirky.”
In the Mood
Moody started her musical journey while attending the Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences from first to third grade. At the time, she took choir, dance and music classes and participated in choir competitions performing Kanye West and Black Eyed Peas songs.
“Out of that choir, my teacher hand-picked three other girls and me to create a little girl band. I was in that for a few years, and we traveled a little bit, practiced after school and got some paid shows. I’ve loved music and singing ever since,” Jefferson said.
She also sought musical inspiration from her father, who was once part of Eminem’s posse in the Detroit hip-hop scene along with Obie Trice, and Lady Gaga, whose music, writing style, voice, bravery and creativity captivated her.
“He’s always writing and learning new instruments, including piano right now. He’s hella musical, so I got that from him,” she said. “As for Lady Gaga, she’s my spirit animal, and I can relate. Even today, I still stand by her as my idol. She’s the real deal, and that’s hard to come by.”
Moody and her family later relocated to Saint Clair Shores, where she graduated from high school and continued to pursue music. By college, she attended Saginaw Valley State University and joined the glee club and show choir, but focused heavily on her communications coursework.
Once she graduated college, Moody shifted her focus to music and adopted an artist moniker that reflected her signature red-colored hair and changing emotional moods.
“My hair has been magenta since the 11th grade, and I haven’t changed it since. It’s still sitting with my spirit, and I’m gonna have red hair forever. The box dye that I use is magenta, and every few months I go to the store to find the magenta box to touch up these roots,” said Jefferson, who lyrically starts each track with “It’s Moody.”
“I’m also very moody, so my music has highs and lows. One moment I’m dancing away, and the next moment I’m like, ‘Man, this is a sad-ass month.’ I appreciate the peer group that I have because they put up with that shit. I’m always optimistic and kind, so I think that’s what keeps people around.”
As Magenta Moody, she channeled that emotionality and creativity into two spellbinding EDM-dream pop singles, “Heart to Find” and “Hot Air Balloon,” in 2020.
“‘Hot Air Balloon’ was the first thing I wrote fresh out of college that I got recorded and put out. It was my big girl song, and it was just about release. I still find myself listening to it if I’m feeling down or like I’m not progressing,” Jefferson said.
Moody’s musical journey keeps progressing as she writes and records new material, including a follow-up EP to The Midnight Club.
“My next EP is going to feel like you’re at a summertime party, so you might as well be on the beach. I’ve been happier, and when singing songs from my old EP I’m like, ‘I don’t feel this way right now,’” she said. “I plan on doing the next EP this year, and I’m shooting for no later than September. I don’t want to miss the summer.”