Bergie Chris, and June from the week of the recording

Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Beautiful Rat Record’s Bergie & The Magic Bag. Together we discussed their magic bag, what music had a significant role on them, having “Take Care” on streaming platforms, and so much more!


1. Mustard is thankful to have you join them. How are you doing today? 

Oh, Mustard. Ya know? I’m doing alright today. Busy. Busy, busy, busy. But such is life, i suppose. I cleaned my room this week, so that’s big! Clean room, clean brain. 

2. Mustard wonders how one obtains a magic bag. Could you share how you obtained your magic bag? What powers does this magic bag give you? 

My personal Magic Bag was gifted to me by my gem of a fairy godmother. However, the secret’s not necessarily in the stitching — it’s in how you use it! It’s in the work that you put into your bag. The more you put in, the more it puts back out. A true Magic Bag, once it’s reached full maturity, is capable of holding anything and everything one will need for a given excursion. Now, that’s not to say you will be prepared for every possible scenario. But you WILL be prepared for every scenario that happens to arise. Ya dig?

3. There is a quote on your Twitter biography that sticks out to Mustard: “put the magic in the bag and nobody gets hurt.” What was the outcome of this situation? 

Well, so far the magic seems to be in the bag, and nobody seems to be hurt. No more than norma, at least. Poor norma. 

So, I’d say all is well on that front. 

4.  When did you begin making music? 

Mustard — every thing in this beautiful Universe has been making music since the beginning of time: from the Big Bang, the first great “Om”, and as far as i can tell, it will continue to do so until the ultimate heat death of the Universe — the last great decrescendo. There is music in the stars, in the planets, the rhythm at which they circle the sun. There is music in the wind that blows through the grass in the trees; there is music in the rock which tumbles from the mountaintop, in the glacier which splits in two and crashes into the sea. There is music in the footstep, in the wing beat, in the babe’s cry of every creature to ever tread this beautiful Earth. 

When did i start making music, Mustard? I have always been making music. I will always be making music. My atoms are a traveling band, come together at my birth to sing the song of the Heavens, and at my death they will go their separate ways to work on their solo projects and meet new collaborators. The gears are always turning in the Universe’s clock. The fire’s always burning. The Music never stops. 

5. For those who have not listened to Bergie & The Magic Bag, how would you describe your sound? 

As i said before — the Magic Bag always has exactly what is needed for the given journey. I’m a storyteller at heart. My Magic Bag is there to help me tell those stories whatever way they desire to be told. It might be folksy. Folk-punk even, at times. It might be ska. It might be jazz. It might be an all-MIDI hypertrop rendition of American Idiot, transposed to a minor key. It’s whatever it needs to be. 

6. Do you have a song (or album) that had a significant impact on you? 

Oh i have many an album that has impacted my life. I’ll name more names below. 

But in regards to TAKE CARE — the primary sonic influence was AJJ’s PEOPLE WHO CAN EAT PEOPLE… The first time i saw them play live was for the PEOPLE 10-Year Anniversary Tour. It was just Sean on guitar, and Ben on upright bass. I didn’t know you could do that. It just never occurred to me. It blew my damn mind. Since that day in 2017, i’ve wanted to have a band with that same setup — guitar, upright bass, and vocals. I found my bassist, June, on Bumble BFF a few months after i moved to NYC. We had a shared love of AJJ. The one problem was that they had never played upright before, only bass guitar — but they wanted to try! A week after we met, we drove out to Long Island and bought an upright. We were inseparable for the next few months, jamming and writing constantly. We eventually decided to go on tour the summer of 2021, and we needed a record to send to venues and promoters to start booking shows, so we got in touch with our friend Jess Cantley to come on tour with us, and we made this split EP — TAKE CARE. June and i wanted to convey the kind of sound we’d have at a live performance, and i’ve always loved the sound of AJJ’s PEOPLE — how it just sounds like a band, in a room, playing the damn songs. So that’s what we did! My friend Chris helped us record it so we could focus on the playing, and then Chris also hopped on backing vocals for GOODBYE, BLUE MONDAY! We absolutely ripped that little guitar riff from AJJ, too haha. And the solo in WHERE YA FROM is modeled loosely after Sean and Ben’s dynamic in NORMALIZATION BLUES, from GOOD LUCK, EVERYBODY. I love the way their guitar and bass parts bounce off of each other and sync up at certain moments, and i love how Sean’s able to maintain his rhythm guitar while still ripping a solo. In this version of WYF, we went without bass, as we were on a bit of a time crunch and couldn’t quite get it tightened up in time. But the live version has some incredible guitar-bass duet action. 

Bergie, June, and Jess Cantley outside of Bar Nancy in Miami after our gig there.

7. Who (or what) influences you?

Okay, I could talk about this all day if you let me, so i’m just gonna start naming names and records. 

AJJ, obviously — PEOPLE, GLE, CHRISTMAS ISLAND, THE BIBLE 2, to name a few records. 

Watsky — my all-time favorite artist, wordsmith, storyteller, performer. Seen him 8 times. Doesn’t have a single miss of a record, but my fave has gotta be ALL YOU CAN DO. It just feels like home. Been digging CARDBOARD CASTLES a lot lately as well. I feel like i’m in somewhat of a CARDBORD CASTLES era of my life right now. If you have further questions ask away, but otherwise i’ll stop here for the sake of brevity. Just know that he’s the man, man. 

Emperor X — saw him open for AJJ on the GLE tour, Feb. 2020, and been a fan ever since. The way he commands the crowd and gets them singing along to every damn song — often as a one-man acoustic act — is awe-inspiring every single time. OVERSLEEPERS INTERNATIONAL is my kinda record. Emperor X makes music for people on trains, Mustard. And this record sets the bar high. His tunes appeal to my own case of Suitcase Syndrome. I’ve got it bad, and Emperor X gets it. The world was made to be seen, Mustard. There are stories out there waiting to be told, and dammit, i’m gonna tell em. 

Logan Whitehurst & The Junior Science Club — speaking of storytellers, let’s talk about Logan Whitehurst for a moment. One of the greatest, most prolific, and just downright fun and whimsical songwriters of the 21st century, cut down in his prime by a brain tumor back in ‘06. Have you ever heard the love song of a dying man, Mustard? Now, mash that up with a little They Might Be Giants, and a heaping helping of Bill Nye, The Science Guy, and you get one Logan Whitehurst. Take a listen to GOODBYE, MY 4-TRACK. You’ll see what i mean. 

Pretend You’re Happy — here’s a little folk-punk history for ya, Mustard. Back in 2005, Johnny Hobo And The Freight Trains released a split album with ManTits, called LOVE SONGS FOR THE APOCALYPSE. Now, most people know the Johnny Hobo A-Side, but the B-Side by ManTits gets heavily slept on. It’s hard to find at times, even. A lot of the youtube uploads only have the A-Side. But this isn’t about that. This is about ManTits, Mustard. See, a couple years later, ManTits formed a band called Pretend You’re Happy. In 2009, PYH put out a self-titled record: PRETEND YOU’RE HAPPY. This is a perfect record, Mustard. It’s Mr. Kite, in the folk-punk circus, with the male-male extension cord. It’s flawless. It’s city music. It’s people music. And you should all go listen to it. Now. 

Don’t listen to their second record though, it sucks.

Speed round:

The Mountain Goats — JORDAN LAKE SESSIONS (VOL. 3-4)

Alanis Morissette — JAGGED LITTLE PILL

Keller & The Keels — SPEED

Keller Williams — ODD

Billy Strings — TURMOIL & TINFOIL

We Are The Union — ORDINARY LIFE

KMOY — THE PRECURE ALBUM

The Chicks — HOME

Steely Dan — THE ROYAL SCAM

The Beths — FUTURE ME HATES ME

Jeff Rosenstock — THANKS, SORRY!

The Grateful Dead — anything live, but if we’re talking studio then it’s SHAKEDOWN STREET all the damn way

Okay, I’ll pause there for now. There’s too much music. This is life in the time of infinite music, Mustard. Go listen to some weird shit TODAY!!!

8. What is your creative process?

Lotsa different things! I try to keep myself writing periodically through the day, and before bed at night. Usually just little things, observations, which will occasionally rhyme. Rhyme and meter help bring a little extra clarity to things sometimes — help you really pare down the meaning, get to the bottom of the issue. 

Sometimes that writing snowballs and starts to take shape into something bigger, sometimes it doesn’t. 

Sometimes i get this feeling building up in my chest and i know that there’s a song that wants to get out. I let it cook until i can get my hands on an instrument, and then the dam bursts and it all just comes flooding out at once. 

Other times, i have an idea, but i have to keep chipping away at the song until it fully reveals itself. 

Sometimes, it’s a combination! The flood comes first, then i have to chip away and find which bits are actually good. Trim the fat. Sometimes another flood comes. Rinse and repeat. 

All the tracks on TAKE CARE were chip-aways, though i definitely had moments of floods. I actually wrote BUSY, BUSY, BUSY and WHERE YA FROM? back in 2020 and 2019, respectively. They were very different in their original forms, and i was never quite satisfied — check my bandcamp for the original WYF on my EP, NOISY NAKED NEIGHBOR. Me and June revived them and brought them into the present together, and we wrote GBM from scratch. We were actually gonna revive another old tune for this one — GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! — but in the end, it didn’t make the cut. 

With my “big songs” (AKA my “real ones” that go on “records” and i play “live” at “shows”) i tend to like to get them fully written, lyrically and musically, on one instrument before i start laying down tracks. 

However, i also like to do a song-a-day exercise every now and then, where i sit down once a day, everyday (usually a week; last time was 17 days — check my bandcamp), and i’ll write whatever first comes to mind. A real “yes, and” attitude. There are no bad ideas. Just one idea that leads to the next. Last time i did this, i fleshed out all the tracks in Logic in the moment, threw a quick mix on them, and uploaded them to bandcamp as soon as they were done (SAD [VOL. 4]). It’s a real fun exercise to do away with all my silly whittling down, and just let the inspiration flow pure and simple. Sometimes you write a line and you have no idea what it means, but it FEELS right. And that’s okay! Let the listener figure out what it means. 

9. One of Mustard’s favorite tracks of yours is Shellboy. It is Eggcelent. What was the inspiration behind this single? Will Shellboy be making a return? 

Mustard, it makes me so happy that you gave DON’T PANIC! a listen, and that you like SHELLBOY!! I friggin love that song. I love that whole album. I worked my ass off making that album. I did very little over the course of 2020 except work in that album and watch One Piece. That was the year i decided that the only real way forward in life for me was through music. 

SHELLBOY was a chip-away tune, and the tune itself is about the daily chipping away at ourselves that we have to do to keep in fighting shape — and more than that, to give ourselves a little room to grow every day, before we seal back up at night to rest. If i stay still for too long, i find a sort of crust develops within my body, mind, and soul. It wants to calcify me, to grind me to a halt. But we mustn’t let it! It’s a daily effort to fight the crust, to crack that shell, and continue to become who we were and are meant to be!

I still play SHELLBOY from time to time, and i’ll always play it if someone requests it. Generally, i tend to avoid a lot of my songs from DON’T PANIC (e.g. all the ones that say the word “pandemic”) — or at least, i did for a while. That whole album deals heavily with my experience in and my observations of the first year of the pandemic. It was a real dark time. I don’t have to tell you that, Mustard. Shelves were barren. Condiments had it rough, too. You know. When the vaccine dropped, and i started getting out and playing songs for people again, i felt like the last thing anybody wanted to hear was pandemic songs. And i didn’t particularly wanna go there emotionally myself. But i love those songs with all my heart!! I mix RIOT BARD, SPACE FORCE, BUBBLE TROUBLE, and SHELLBOY into my sets from time to time — and again, i’m happy to play any of them when requested. 

10. Could you share with readers what happened in the Travel Lodge? 

OMG. It just got crazy up in the Travelodge. 

No hookers this time. Stop by Roanoke sometime, buddy. 

11. You were one of the artists featured on Beautiful Rat Record’s “Songs For Dads.” What was it like to be a part of this compilation? 

I always love working with Jacob and BRR! I’m beyond psyched to be a part of the label now, and have a little extra help pushing my tunes, like this here EP, TAKE CARE. 

Songs For Dads was doubly special for me, cause i was able to actually work with my dad on the tune. We did MY OLD SCHOOL, by Steely Dan — one of our favorite bands. My dad is the reason i have this passion for music that i do. He’s the reason i play the piano and the trumpet (he plays both), and he’s (my mom as well) been endlessly supportive of my pursuits. It’s tough having a parent in Active Duty military. My mom was Air Force as well, but was in the Reserves by the tome i came round, so she was home a lot more. My dad was often away on trips, or deployed for months at a time, or just working crazy long hours. But he always made time for me and my sister, and the thing my dad and i have been able to bond over most over the years is music. Be it “guess that band” on the car radio, music festivals in Hyde Park, quarantine jams with the family band, Bear Lazers (me, dad, and my BIL Matt), or bogarting the front row at all my shows, my dad’s always ready to rock. He’s a man with a song in his heart, Mustard. So for SFD, i knew i had to get him playing some trumpet on the Steely Dan tune. It’s Songs For Dads, BY dads. And it’s real friggin special. 

12. Together with Beautiful Rat Records you recently released your album “TAKE CARE” onto streaming platforms. How does it to feel to have this album on streaming platforms? 

It’s a sigh of relief, Mustard! At last, my friend, at last!! I can move on with my damn life!

I’ve had plenty of stuff on streaming before, but it’s all under old names — “Erik Bergeson”, and then “Bergie!” — from when i was working solo. For DON’T PANIC! i was on a mission, actually, to make the record entirely on my own. I wanted to see if i could do it. And i did! The only song with anyone else’s hands on it is TO THE END!! (the final track) — where i got a bunch of friends and family to sing the last refrain with me, campfire-style. 

When i moved to New York in October of 2020, i was on a new mission: to make friends and play music with them! I made TAKE CARE with my friends June and Chris, as well as Jess Cantley on the B side of course. But i was still going by “Bergie!” — the idea of “The Magic Bag” started to develop over that summer, as we prepped for, went on, and came home from the TAKE CARE TOUR. I don’t wanna play music alone anymore. I want a whole big crew of friends, who i’ll protect and i’ll defend!

That’s the Magic Bag — whoever and whatever I have around me to work with will exactly what i need for the given journey. And WOW have i met some incredible friends so far. We’re working on some new tunes right now, and i wanted something to push in the meantime. TAKE CARE was initially just a quick and dirty record we made to have something to send to venues and promoters. But it quickly became much more than that in our hearts. We learned the true meaning of the phrase “take care” on tour that summer. And the project has always felt more like the first “Magic Bag” project to me, even if it wasn’t under that name initially. That was where the change began. So it feels right to put it out now, under the new name, as the beginning of this next musical chapter!

I’m only bummed that we don’t have Jess Cantley’s side of the split with us this time around. It’s absolutely incredible, and y’all need to go listen to it on the bandcamp version immediately!!! He’s also working on some more produced versions of his own tunes — one of them from TAKE CARE, 35 MM (HENRY THOREAU), is already out on streaming, and it is unbelievably friggin good. Cannot recommend it enough. You need some Jess Cantley in your life. I guarantee it. Fix that. Fix it now.

Mr. Jess Cantley and I are also working on a tune or two together right now, so keep an ear out for those in the future!!

13. Can fans and readers expect more collaboration with Beautiful Rat Records in the future? 

Oh absolutely! I’ve got a whole buncha stuff cookin’ up with the Rat Pack in the coming months. Tunes, shows, merch, who knows?? First up though is the Mountain Goats cover comp. You’re gonna wanna tune in for that one. 

14. What does a Bergie & The Magic Bag show look like? 

Well damn, Mustard. I think you may just have to come find out for yourself one of these days!

But if you want a sneak peek, skip to 47 min in this vid: https://youtu.be/WhCkV6_mRso

15. How would you describe a Bergie & The Magic Bag show?

~ m a g i c ~

16. What’s next for Bergie & The Magic Bag?

Tunes! (BRR Mountain Goats Comp)

More tunes! (Cookin up some tasty treats)

Shows! (TBD)

Merch! ($20 + shipping for my remaining tie-dye tees — all hand-dyed and printed; new merch coming soon!)

Probably more tunes! (I can’t stop writing songs, it’s getting to be a problem, i can’t keep up with myself!)

In the meantime, catch me busking out in the streets NYC baybee!!

17. Where can readers listen to your music? 

“Bergie & The Magic Bag” on all streaming platforms!

Bergie.bandcamp.com for the b-sides and deep cuts (and also if you wanna buy it)

@bergiemagicbag on all socials (and venmo, again, if you wanna send me money for stuff and cause i’m cute)

Thanks a mil, Mustard. 

TAKE CARE, Y’ALL!!!!

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