(Gaffguy) Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
(Alex) After growing up in Liverpool in the UK, when I was 18 I moved to London to study jazz saxophone at music college for four years.
When I was about 21, I got into magic in a big way. I had a Paul Daniels magic set as a kid, and got to see him live too, but I didn’t really get interested in magic until I was at college. I remember being in Camden market in London and seeing a guy demonstrate some stuff. The usual cheap Svengali and Stripper decks, D-Lites, and pens and coins vanishing up the sleeves. I bought the kit he was selling and started practicing. I would perform for anyone who would indulge me.
Coincidentally, around the same time I met two of the busiest working magicians in London. As a sax player, I would get to play at fancy par- ties and there was often other entertainment. I remember playing a party with my jazz trio for a refrigerator company. We were in the cor- ner and people were either ignoring us or politely nodding in acknowl- edgement. Meanwhile, in the middle of the room, small groups of peo- ple were gasping and screaming in amazement at a magician working the room.
When the magician took his break, I chatted with him. He showed me a couple of things; magazine clippings changed to cash, my card shot out of the deck and flew into his waiting hand, all of the cards except mine vanished and ended up in his pocket. I was floored. I’d never seen anything like this before. He recommended a couple of books and probably forgot all about me. That guy was Rob James. The very next week I was at another gig and I met Etienne Pradier who is also phenomenal. He gave me some advice and showed me a few things. He has a killer bill-switch and a great card to bottle routine that he does walk-around. Check him out!
I spent the next few years working on magic alongside playing music for a living. A good friend of mine also did the same thing. He was a bass player, and we would often take it in turns to perform walk- around for the audience in between our sets. We worked on stuff together for years until he eventually switched to being a full-time magician in London. I continued to play music as my main gig and ended up playing all over the world and meeting some incredible people. I always performed magic wherever I went in between playing gigs.
In 2013, I was playing in Dubrovnik, Croatia (King’s Landing for all you Game of Thrones nerds). While there, I met a girl on holiday from New York. Long story short, I quit the band and moved to Brooklyn to be with her, and we got married. Since moving to New York I’ve focused on magic, although I’m still composing and playing music as well.
(Gaffguy)Thanks for keeping that short Alex 🙂
(Gaffguy) What’s it like to work on the Nomad show?
I’ve been working on the show for about a year now. It’s an intimate parlor magic show with lights and music that really help add to the drama. The room holds just over 70 people, and there is a lot of audi- ence involvement. We’ve had some really high-profile guests; Jimmy Fallon, Questlove, JJ Abrams, Aaron Paul, Kanye West and Kim Kar- dashian to name a few. We’ve also had a lot of repeat guests.
I joined the show when it was very new and it’s been great to watch Dan White and the show develop over the last year. When I started, there were only three shows a week: one on Friday and two on Saturday. Currently, we’re doing two shows a night, Thursday to Saturday and are sold out weeks in advance, which I think is a great testament to the quality of the show and the people who work on it.
We’re now at the stage where the show runs really smoothly, but we’re always looking to improve it and add new material periodically. It’s also been exciting to be a part of Dan’s Tonight Show appearances. Jimmy and The Roots are huge fans, so it’s always fun.
(Gaffguy) What style of magic do you prefer?
(Alex) As a performer, my passion is close-up, but I’m really a fan of any- thing, as long as it’s done well. I feel the same way about any art form. As a musician, I have spent most of my life listening to and playing jazz. I pretty much wouldn’t listen to anything else. That’s the wrong way to be if you’re aiming to improve. If you’re serious about what you do, you should take inspiration from everywhere you can. In the same way that mixed-breed dogs are usually healthier than pure-bred ones, look at someone like Yann Frisch perform his cups and balls routine. He combined his training as a clown with a classic magic plot that you’ve seen a million times to create something totally wonderful. Similarly, Derren Brown has had huge success by mixing several disciplines to create the illusion he has superpowers.
I try to just find something valuable in every performance I watch. Obviously there is a lot of crap out there, but even then, you can at least learn what NOT to do.
(Gaffguy) What magicians do you admire ?
(Alex) There are many magicians I admire but I’d say my favorites are Lennart Green, David Williamson and Tommy Wonder. Each one of them uniquely brilliant. I also love the Spanish school of Tamariz, Daortiz, and Aragon.
(Gaffguy) What do you have planned for the near future?
(Alex) I’m planning a show that explores the shared elements of jazz and magic (of which there are many). I’m still figuring out the best way to do that, but I’m pretty excited about the possibilities. I’m writing a lot of music at the moment, some of which will be part of that show, some will be used in upcoming videos. Also, I’m working on my material for close-up and stage. I’m kind of obsessive about everything I do, so I’m constantly trying to improve.
(Gaffguy) What do you do in your spare time?
(Alex) I got into photography relatively recently, so have been shooting and editing a lot, and really enjoying it. You’ll also find me at the dog park several days a week, so I stay in Charlie Barker’s good
books (Alex’s dog)
(Gaffguy) What’s your favorite food?
(Alex) Anything well done, except steak; which I prefer rare. I cook a lot and always try and recreate stuff I’ve enjoyed in restaurants, with mixed results.
Check out Alex’s website at www.alexbharris.com