When did you feel you had "made it" as a magician?
My honest answer is that it all depends on how you quantify making it. As a teenager, the thought that I might be able to make a living doing the thing I love was unfathomable in so many ways. When I was given The Princes Trust support it felt like I was finally being taken seriously. To be given money to invest in my passion from Prince Charles of all people was definitely a pivotal moment. Then, when the business actually started to be successful and was able to support me full time, in some ways I felt like I had made it. Naturally, I’ve always been ambitious - as magicians, I think we are all striving to improve and see how far we can take things. So over the years, the success got bigger than I could have ever imagined! After 3 sell-out headline shows at London’s o2 arena performing for 12,000 people a night, I definitely felt on top of the world - I felt invincible! But what happened next was a hard lesson... it doesn’t matter how successful you get, everything can get taken away in an instant and you should never take it for granted. My health issues have been highly publicised so I won’t burden you with all that - however, I will say they almost made me lose everything I’d ever worked for. So right now, the fact that I am able to even do magic at all and share that sense of wonder we all felt when we got into magic... well that’s all I need to feel like I’ve made it as a magician.
What's your favourite effect in your new magic series, Beyond Belief?
There are so many to choose from... I’ve personally always preferred the smaller close-up card routines. When I developed the arthritis, the doctors told me I may never be able to use my hands again. This meant my usual Cardistry approach was not an option for a long time. With that in mind, it forced me to work on stuff using memory and try out material outside of my comfort zone that I wouldn’t usually try. The card routine I think I’m most proud of was the weighing cards routine in the first episode as that was the first effect I was able to work on from my hospital bed. It gave me a new skill to my arsenal whilst helping me both mentally and physically recover. Juan Tamariz books and the Pit Hartling book “in order to amaze” really helped too - magicians should check them out!
Who is your favourite performing magician today?
There are so many great magicians out there it’s really hard to just name one. The magicians who have inspired me the most over the last year have been Nicholas Lawrence, the Other Brothers, Luke Jermay, Harry De Cruz, Robert Pound, Alan Rorrison and Luke Oseland. Each of these guys has their own ingenious approach to magic and spending time with them whilst working on my new show was so inspiring - it wouldn’t have been what it is without them.
Outside of magic, what inspires you the most?
I think I’m most inspired by people’s stories. No matter who you meet in the world, everyone has their own unique story and I’m always interested in learning about different people’s perspectives on the world and life in general. I believe that if you study the best talent in any entertainment field be it magicians, artists, singers, comedians, film directors to actors and even look at top professionals such as top lawyers and people in other industries - the most successful ones are the ones best at delivering the perfect story that fits their narrative. The best lawyers know how to deliver a defence that tells the story of innocence. The best actors are the ones whose presence and delivery of the lines engross you in the story and bring the stories characters to life. The best directors put it all together to ultimately give the viewer the best experience of the story they are directing. Singers and comedians bring stories to life through their vocal or physical delivery and the best ones often compel you to feel something on an emotional level. Nowadays most of my inspiration for my magic comes from outside the magic world, to be honest. I try to read, watch and listen to as many people’s stories as possible to help me better understand myself and how to deliver my own story.
Do you have any advice for magicians in self-isolation?
My advice right now would be to use this time wisely. It is a worrying time for the workers as, let’s be honest, none of us know when we will get live bookings again - but at some point, everything should get back to a bit of normality and as magicians, we have the unique ability to bring joy to people. Even in dark times, a performance of magic can put a smile on someone’s face and make their whole day feel that little bit special - maybe even inspire them to see the world from a different perspective. So, my advice would be that we use this time to develop our skills as magicians. Read all those books and practice all those effects we have never got around to. So, when the world goes back to normal, we all have some new magic to share with people and when we do get gigs again, we’ll be able to show them things they’ve never seen before!
Use this time to find inspiration for yourself so that when we can be around people socially again you can inspire them too!
What's a question more magicians should ask Dynamo? And what's the answer?
Actually, the questions I do get asked by so many young magicians are: “how do I get my own tv show” or “how do I become a famous magician?”
I think it’s massively important to have ambitions and when I was younger I definitely had a desire to be known for my magic and maybe one day follow in the footsteps of my heroes, but from all the personal experience I’ve learnt in my journey through magic I think my answer would be - Don’t set your goal to just become famous or get on tv. I know my answer might initially sound counter-intuitive and maybe even hypocritical, but friends who know me will tell you that being famous or getting a tv show was never my priority. First and foremost, I wanted to be a great magician - the best magician I could be. I don’t claim to be better than anyone else, and never have. There are so many more skilled magicians out there than me. I focus my time and energy studying them. I watch the best magicians around, I read their books and dedicate myself to the art I truly love. I then focus on putting parts of myself into my performances, learning how to share my story - which is the one thing that makes me unique. The combination of hard work, studying and being brutally honest with yourself about who you are as a person as well as a performer, are the things that can make you a great magician. If you’ve genuinely put in the work, then one day you might just get the recognition and notoriety that comes with it. Forget trying to be the most famous - start by trying to be the most focused.
We stand on the shoulders of so many magical giants and like our idols we all share one thing in common - in the beginning, it all started with that magical moment of wonder that we felt when we experienced magic for the first time. That feeling grew into that infectious passion we all have and we are lucky enough to be able to share our magic with the world.
As a community, let’s learn from and support each other in these unprecedented times. Then together we can use magic to connect people and bring some positivity into people’s lives - when everyone needs it the most.
Catch Dynamo's new series, Beyond Belief, on Sky here.
Follow Dynamo on Instagram here.