Based in Austin, TX, Jonathan Christ and Chase Gorman of Machine
have been flying under the radar with their fascinating IDM and live electronic creations that are heavily influenced by bands like Aphex Twin. Kacee Boswell had a chance to sit down and get an interview with Jonathan and Chase and wrote a bit of an introduction to her experience as well. Check it out below. For more about the band and to hear their music, check out their MySpace
On the night of Christmas I went to Jonathan's house to do this interview. Jonathan and Chase showed me their set- up:
All the buttons glowing were beautiful; blues and oranges, flashing in their respective patterns. It looked like a laboratory of some sort, the machines and wires and all sorts of buttons.
They played me the first three tracks on 'Mapping Out Our Dreams', I was impressed with the sound to say the least. They're solid songs, discernible from one another but they fit. It's a comfortable sound, I've been driving around with it for weeks now. It isn't hard to listen, as I find with some electronic music. There isn't anything abrasive or overly aggressive about the sound. I found it taking over my music listening easily, there is something so natural about it.
And it's fun. 'Miss A' has brought a smile to everyone's face that I have had listen to it. And 'Order In The Clockroom' is a personal favorite, my imagination runs away with me.
When they were filming for the documentary, I got to snap a few pictures of them beside I-35, capturing the sound of the interstate. Chase holding a mic up to the edge of the speeding traffic, huge headphones on, listening for the perfect bite of noise.
New Year's Eve I was supposed to be at their house party anywhere from 9 - 11, and I walked up the driveway at midnight. People had faces upturned to a giant projector screen, the countdown beginning, chanting the numbers as images flashed with each one. Their faces changing color with each frame. I missed the actual show, but Chase and Jonathan were mixing all that night. I got a few pictures of their set-up, and of Chase working all their machines.
Creative is the best word to describe what they do; listen and see if you agree. Keep in mind that all these sounds are organic, they personally manufacture everything you hear. I didn't drink the punch, I'm genuinely enthused about this band.
- Kate Boswell
: Alright, I'm here with 'Machine'
, which consists of Chase Gorman and Jonathan Christ. Crist?
JC: Crist. Though it's spelled 'Christ'.
JC: Yeah, most people say Christ.
: It's a good person to get confused with I guess. So when did Machine start, how did you end up doing this?
CG: I'd say winter of 2005, summer 2006.
JC: Yeah no doubt. It was, well not really a rift that was happening with the Spins, but Chase and I would just record on the side, sequence things we were going to include in the Spins
and then it just developed into a project all it's own. By 2006 we made a double disk professional album that was written, recorded, and produced all on our own.
CG: It was released in October 2006, it's titled 'Off/On'
: What's your most recent album called?
CG: The album that we just showed you the three tracks is called 'Mapping Out Our Dreams (or) Moods
', we recorded this one in 2008, just at the beginning of winter break, so last year approximately.
: I really liked it. What has influenced ya'll to move in this direction with your sound?
CG: Our top two are Radiohead
and Aphex Twin
. Aside from each having about thirty bands we listen to on a daily basis to get our influences from.
Your songs are different than songs with traditional lyrics, because I can ask about the lyrics. Does each song have a specific meaning? How do you come up with your songs?
CG: I guess either I'll be on my own, writing on my blue drum machine and I'll have a few drum parts going and write a few synths and some basses, and I'll bring it to Jonathan and we'll collaborate and jam on it and figure out some things, change a few things here and there; or Jonathan will come to me with a piano part
JC: It just adds an abstraction to the music. Without lyrics you're forced to use your imagination.
: Definitely interesting. So ya'll are doing a documentary this weekend?
JC: Yeah, it's my brother, he's going to be filming us for about five days, starting on the 28th, and we're playing a house party on the 31st.
: New Year's Eve?
JC: We are expecting a lot of people, and that's when our main show will be.
: Has Machine done many shows?
JC: We're kind of a cult band; we do a lot of house parties.
CG: We do a lot of house parties, and we have friends who will come in town we meet on Myspace that are also in the same kind of music genre that we try to promote ourselves. A particular artist Bath8 from Minnesota that came in and played 'Fuckedover Fest' which is this thing we do in San Marcus each year. Mostly house parties and small clubs, we played the White Rabbit I think once.
JC: It's all DIY along the way.
CG: We try and network through Myspace. We're really trying to work on our Music in how our lives are set up right now.
: So music is what you want to do with your lives, it's your passion?
CG: Yeah, you know if you can make money off of it and support yourself at the same time, it'll never be something you put down, maybe become a hobby but definitely the next few years we're going to put our hearts into it and try to start playing more shows, pushing an album, trying to get a promoter, a manager.
JC: It would be easy and hard to be in Austin. Easy because it's easy to get gigs, but then again you don't get paid anything, you have to work another job, you'd have to just play a lot of gigs all the time. Either way I think we have a sound that's unique in itself. It's nostalgic in a way.
JC: Just the tones that we use, I think it's very ageless.
CG: I think it's very unique because we decided not to use any kind of computers, we only use analog instruments. We only use drum machines, samplers, and turn tables, you know, real vinyl; we actually go out with a microphone and record our own samples. And we have original ideas and I think that the machines that we buy allow us to really experiment and experience the electronic side where people tend to use computers; not that it's bad, most artist we listen to make amazing computer music, and they have influenced me more than anything. We decided to use hands on, turning knobs, punching in a sequence.
JC: I've been playing the piano since I was about 6, and it developed into keyboard. I guess I'm being a composer; I try and add an organic sound through my Yamaha. Can't have a grand piano on stage. Not yet.
: So you must be really busy while your preforming because it's so hands on.
CG: Yeah, the live performances is actually a lot of fun; no two songs we ever play will be played the same exact way again. When we play we leave out parts or let them ride, we figure out something else; I turn a knob too far and it makes a weird noise and Jonathan is influenced by that and starts playing something different. We can go off on these sounds for awhile. Some are pretty good ane we'll write those down and add them into the music. That's how we jam, because in a traditional band you have someone covering drums, someone covering keys, guitar, bass, vocals, and everyone knows their part and keeps up with each other. But when you're controlling all of it you have to be a composer. We work all angles; Jonathan's running over to the drum machine to turn stuff down I'm on the talk box and doing the tables, he's on the piano, we're making sure everything is on time. The key part is that everything is on time.
JC: Having analog gear is our mantra, and I think we stick true to it.
CG: A lot of people I go see, they're some of my favorite artists, they stand up there with a laptop and that's all they have.
: Like MSTRKRFT
GC: Yeah, a lot of people, Girl Talk
, I just saw him and all he had the whole time was a laptop, he killed it, but all he had was a laptop. It's just not the same when you see the Chemical Brothers
live and they have this sized room with electronics around them, and they're just working it so well. A lot of people think they're just pressing play when they have a laptop, which isn't true, they have to do a lot of work, but at the same time that doesn't interest me. I would be so bored behind just a keyboard. I want knobs, I want real electronics and my machines.
: You want to feel each sound you're making.
JC: It's a really plush sound.
CG: There's always a slight hum and it's like vinyl, it adds a sense of ambiance to it. We can really push the machine to it's limits and make some really bizarre sounds I don't think I'd ever be able to create on a computer without having all these knobs and plugging it all in, and having wires. The future is so quick these kinds of things are dying.
: What are your three most powerful songs off 'Mapping Out Our Dreams'
JC: Miss A, Squarize, and Juicy Beet.
CG: I agree. We'll give you a list of album tracks as well as a CD after this. To fill you in so far we have three albums, OFF/ON
, released in 2006, and then in 2007 we released a 'No Computers' EP
that wasn't really an EP; it had 20 songs on it, we cut it down to about 18 or 19. It was more like half B sides.
JC: It's a great listen. It has a lot of diverse songs throughout it. The quality is not as good as MOOD
CG: Our first two albums show where we started off, started feeling out how to play songs and put this music together, such strange sounds together and actually compose repitition and rhythm. I think this album finally has concrete theory in it, we are getting better at our instruments, getting more creative. I think one or two more albums down the line we'll really find our niche. This album has the most potential out of our three. We're excited.
: Besides the upcoming house party do ya'll have any shows coming up?
JC: We're just preparing for the documentary. It's quite a challenge.
: What's the documentary called?
JC: There isn't a working title yet, it's essentially he's taken 5 to 10 bands right now, depending on if Bel Air
breaks up; but they're all from Austin, and we're portrayed as this outsider band. Nathan (the director) likes to say we're the jester in his circus. It's a very tense movie from what I've seen, dealing with themes of construction and music and literal construction,
CG: Noise ordinances and how they're lowering the decibel level allowed past a certain hour in Austin. And as a live music capital it's a really big issue. They're lowering it by a good amount. Our part in the movie is that they're going to document how we make our songs, they're going to go through the process with us, they're going to have us be recording some of the sound of the construction and have us incorperate it into our music. It's an ongoing experiment about creationism. I think a lot of the bands here in Austin have been kind of burned by this . . . . I don't know; we're a band that hasn't lived in Austin, we're going to go there and play a show and experience it, take from it the best parts we can, find out what's going on. Little did we know until just a few weeks ago this whole fight going on in Austin. We're trying to push our band in there at the same time other bands have been there and are being pushed away. It's a hundred minute feature film. He's going to try and incorperate a lot of all the bands and how they're relating to eachother. What Austin is dealing with and what we can do about it. He's going to include our creative processes and show us filmed live. We're really stoked about it.
: I'll have to google this situation in Austin, I'm uninformed. I think that about does it for this interview.
CG: Cool, we have a Myspace, 'MachineIDM' is at the end of the .com/, we haven't really kept up with it recently. A lot of how we began to get even noticed is we started a little community online of circuit bending; I don't know if you've heard of it. You change the electronics of a simple keyboard or a toy and make sound, you add knobs and switches to it and make sound that you can record. There's a big underground with that online, we've got that whole community networked and we started getting our music together and incorperating that into the music, we have this one song called 'Morning', it has 3 or 4 minutes of circuit bent music.
: Alright Jonathan, do you have anything else to say?
JC: After you turn that off I'll have other things to say haha.
For more about the band and to hear their music, check out their MySpace
page. Thanks Kacee and Machine for putting this together.