Sonic Agenda Exclusive Interview: The M Machine
San Francisco-based electronic act The M Machine brings a rare mix of genre-bending ingenuity and refined musicianship to every element of their musical output. Fresh off their performance this weekend at Sonia for Sauce Saturdays, Sonic Agenda got to speak with The M Machine about the release of their debut album ‘Glare‘, how they got their start, the San Francisco music scene, and much more.
It’s been almost two years since you guys were in Boston with Zedd, welcome back. What is your favorite Boston experience?
I (Swardy) grew up outside Portland, Maine so I’ve had a lot of home town friends make it out to shows in Boston. I remember walking out to a “Swardy” chant during a changeover at the House of Blues. I was pretty confused until I saw a pack of my high school buds in the crowd. Had no idea they would be there!
Tell us about your friendship and how The M Machine was created. How did you come up with the name? Where would you be at the moment of DJ/producer wasn’t your profession?
Eric and I met at UC Santa Barbara. He studied economics — I studied Geography. After a semester in Berlin, Eric came back fired up about all the electronic music he’d discovered. So we stopped writing with guitars and started working in software. ‘The M Machine’ is a reference to Fritz Lang’s 1927 scifi classic Metropolis. We were very caught up in apocalyptic industrial waste-scape when it came time to name our band.
I bet I would have been a teacher. It’s very hard to imagine Eric doing anything else. He says he’d like to have been a sommelier!
Now let’s talk about your 12 track debut album ‘Glare. How did you guys approach the production of this album? What role do each of you play in the production process?
We have no division of labor. Generally a song is championed by one of us or the other. We’ll get through the majority of the creative work separately and then come together to address final touches, arrangement, weak spots etc. We worked on that album on and off for the better part of 4 years so every method of divining inspiration you can imagine had it’s moment. Songs grew out of melodies, lyrics, chord progressions, samples — We generally try to avoid repeating ourselves when it comes to M Machine music.
Speaking of ‘Glare’, you have been on the album title tour since May. How has the tour been so far? What has been the most memorable stop?
It’s been great! We haven’t seen some of these fans and friends for years. There’s lots of highlights but Austin, TX certainly stands out. We played music for three and a half hours before anyone even mentioned the idea of wrapping up. Flexible curfews man.. the best.
You recently headlined the Canadian music festival, Motion Notion, with Datsik, Minnesota, Dirtyphonics, and more. How was this experience? How do you guys prefer differently for a festival compared to your smaller Boston show at Sonia?
That was a reeeally good one. Set amongst the super dramatic Banf wilderness.. it was beautiful. We’ve collected so many good friends in Canada so we finished our set and paraded around that wacky horse ranch all night. Amazing experience. Love the big festivals and love the intimate shows. The big stage let’s you be dramatic and up the showmanship. And the night club let’s you interact with more people and focus on keeping the room moving. Both great.
Hailing from the West Coast, give us some insight on the music scene in San Francisco? What’s hot right now?
Honestly, you’ll most likely catch us at open mic nights, dive bars and seeing friends. But there are some incredible venues.. Don’t miss Public Works, The Great Northern, downstairs at Monarch, the Midway… Would also recommend getting to an outdoor gathering from Sunset Soundystem, All Day I Dream etc.