We were pretty psyched to introduce you to The M Machine last year when they released their debut EP, Metropolis, on OWSLA. Now, nearly a year later, much has changed with Ben Swardlick, Eric Luttrell, and Andy Coenen as they release Pt. II of that EP series—and along with it, a special Beatport Mix. The San Francisco-based trio tends to take a tech-forward approach to all of their goings-on, reinventing liner notes for the digital age and taking their absolutely crazy stage show a step beyond, so we checked in with the group about what to expect from their newest endeavor, and what to look forward to later this year.
What’s changed for you guys between parts 1 and 2 of Metropolis?
Well, for starters, we’ve seen a lot more of the world. Musically, though, we stayed focused after Pt. I was released. We were exploring the idea of presenting our style of music in an image-rich, and conceptual context—something we hope to have achieved better still, in Pt. II. The stage is bigger this time around, however, with significantly more fan, DJ, and press support. Needless to say, we are excited.
Tell us a little about the accompanying booklet?
Metropolis was a concept album from the start. Every track we labeled album-worthy was assigned general imagery and a rough storyline. As these ideas went from caffeinated ramblings to organized outlines, we realized it was time to bring in some writers that could help us bring the story to life. We worked with Betsey Swardlick and Owen Curtsinger, two incredible writers and comic artists, as well as Chris Blackstock, our cover illustrator, to create the digital liner notes for Metropolis—each song a chapter in our story.
How does the creation of digital liner notes reflect your opinions of how music distribution is changing?
Honestly, the liner notes would be equally enjoyable as a physical product—something we eventually hope to make available. Digital distribution is a super-interesting change in the musical landscape, however. Something we discuss often is the inextricable link between the quality and novelty of new music contrasted with the surrounding advances in related technology.
Any updates on the live show for 2013?
Andy—creator, programmer, and sequencer of our original stage piece, the LED ‘M’—is hard at work reinterpreting the data he originally created for the light show we toured in 2012. These “sonic maps” are being repurposed to drive video content for circumstances where we have access to a video wall. For the most part this will mean a new custom visual experience for those who see us at festivals this summer. We’d like to debut the show at Ultra. As usual, Andy will be on stage multitasking as a vocalist and our light controller/VJ.