Mahogany are an electric music-based multidisciplinary media ensemble formed in Michigan in 1995 and currently working in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, and other locations. The band's sound combines vocals, cello, massed guitars, pianos, melodicas, sequencers, synthesizers, samplers, tape, percussion, and other instruments. Mahogany also use film, video, animation, cinema, graphic design, photography, typography and other realization and rendering techniques for a cumulative effect that the band refers to as the "Hypercube".
Mahogany have released two critically acclaimed full-length albums, The Dream of the Modern Day (2000) and Connectivity! (2006), as well as numerous singles, EPs and compilation tracks collected on Memory Column: Early Works and Rarities 1996-2004 (2005). They have performed live with Vampire Weekend, Spoon, Chairlift, Clinic, Bloc Party, Serena Maneesh, Interpol, Luna, Broadcast, Resplandor, and others, maintaining a cult status among the group's listeners.
Mahogany are the brainchild of Andrew Prinz, created as a response borne of multidisciplinary generational precedent initiated by Prinz's great-grandfather Harry S. Will, a violinist, artist, designer and founder of the Columbus Orchestral Society (who Prinz cites as establishing Mahogany's organizational tabula rasa), and his grandfather Vernon A. Will, a mathematician and guitarist (who, according to Prinz, provided the ensemble's theoretical, aesthetic and ethical basis via his 1961 doctoral thesis The Order of Freedom: An Inquiry into the Theory of Human Selection).
According to Prinz, the band's name references the Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, as well as the mahogany tree's role as a "precious and beautiful living resource, essential to the Earth's biosphere...and a superior material for the construction of both interiors and musical instruments, prized for its beauty and naturally harmonious resonant characteristics."
The group was founded by Prinz and vocalist Allysa Massais in 1995 while Prinz attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, initially studying music theory and composition, then photography, art history, studio art, and graphic design. With concentrations in cello under Owen Carman and bass with Peter Dominguez, Prinz had already performed with and attended workshops and master classes led by jazz greats like Maynard Ferguson, John Faddis and Dizzy Gillespie before forming the first iteration of Mahogany.
Prior to Mahogany, Prinz collaborated with mentor Scott Cortez in two of the latter's musical projects, Lovesliescrushing and Astrobrite. He contributed cover art photography to Lovesliescrushing's second album Xuvetyn and performed 12-string electric guitar with that band on their 1995 East Coast tour. With Astrobrite, Prinz performed as guitarist in 1995-1996 at both live shows and recording sessions. Prinz also worked with Massais in the music project Century Wheatfield, who debuted in 1995 at the Odeon Theatre in East Lansing, Michigan, with an algorithmic video presentation by René Corriveau; their recordings and the video are assumed lost.
Mahogany's first release, the Dual-Group split 12" EP with fellow Michigan band Auburn Lull, was released in 1997 on Burnt Hair Records. Prinz and Massais were joined by Prinz's sister, keyboardist Marissa von Wohl, and the group released various recordings on indie labels such as Tinseltones and Liquefaction.
Mahogany established their own provisional label, Simdisc (aka Disques de Simultanes), in 1998 as an equity-driven concern to provide budgeting capital for the group's releases when little or no capital was available for printing or promotion (Simdisc was subsumed by Renovo and Studio Renovo upon the inception of the Renovo concept in May 2003). The 1997 EP What Will Become of the Key of Reason? was reissued jointly by Simdisc and Clairecords in 1998.
The group's debut full-length album, The Dream of a Modern Day, was recorded in 1998 (augmented by Asha Vida's Jesse Rafferty on percussion) and was initially issued on Burnt Hair in 2000, then reissued in 2001 on Darla Records (CD) and Simdisc/Burnt Hair (LP). Massais left the band after the recording of the album.
In 1999, Prinz and von Wohl relocated to Brooklyn, New York. Joined by several additional musicians (they eventually grew to an octet and even larger live ensembles), Mahogany issued additional compilation tracks. The band's oeuvre was collected on the 1995 Darla 2-CD set Memory Column: Early Works and Rarities 1996-2004.
The group's second album, Connectivity!, featuring production work on several tracks by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, was issued as a double-CD on Darla in 2006.
On November 18, 2009, Prinz declared the ensemble to be "a sovereign city-state canton-town within the country of Renovo." He also said: "Mahogany recognizes the corridor concept city-state Newphilyorkadelphia and the wilds between and beyond. Mahogany seeks rewilding, cessation of egregious production of petroleum-based transportation, integration of city concepts and environs, and reification of both high-speed rail and interurban electric traction."
The band announced their signing to BLVD Records on September 27, 2011, and noted that an upcoming EP would be titled Electric Prisms. Later interviews noted that the band's long-awaited third album would be titled Frontiering.
In 2013, the band (currently a duo of Prinz and Jaclyn Slimm) issued a digital single, "Phase Break", and stated that the third album was still in the works.