Wednesday, 16 February 2011

INTERVIEW: PhOtOmachine [Super]

Raffertie’s Super imprint is going from strength to strength of late. Being in a privileged position to hear their music early, we can confirm that they’re tapping into a lot of corners that you probably wouldn’t expect given the 4 releases the label has put out to date. There’s a definite depth and commitment to the cause inherent to what the team behind the label are doing, their choice of remixers and the presentation of their releases speaks measures of their passion for design as much as the music.

PhOtOmachine, a faceless Brixton resident, is the latest producer to step out on the label, with his Technicolour EP and again, it’s a welcome display of club sculpted productions. Harnessing the swirl of a synthesizer as much as the warm thud of his kick drum on the eponymous track it’s obvious from the first listen that its music made to solely to move you. With percussive elements that trickle in the gaps between the bass stomp, ‘Technicolour’ explodes around the 4 minute mark, underpinning the repetitive vocal chant with a looping bass line that nails the whole track to the floor.

The flip, ‘Sine Language,’ also puts you square in the middle of that darkened club space, eyes flitting up to the ceiling, to the drink in your hand and then around to the faces next to you that are all locked in a unified stare to the DJ booth. It’s an instant thing with the B side, it’s a soundsystem workout waiting to happen, hitting like early 2562 but with a more melancholy lean.

PhOtOmachine tracks are a welcome addition, they progress and twist into new manifestations without compromising their main dancefloor objectives, keeping the attention when their let fly and also popping out cleanly in the mix. We shot him some questions to quell our curiosity and honour him offering up our 69th Sonic Router mix...

SR: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?

PhOtOmachine: I’m PhOtOmachine, a producer and DJ from London pushing square pegs in round holes. I push buttons on old machines and sometimes things happen.

Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?

I actually have a career in the music business. I think everyone working in music should get involved in the art side of it. Otherwise you might as well be in any other office. My days consists of syncing music to TV commercial and video games and signing artists to a seminal UK Independent label.

How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do so?

I grew up around a Reggae soundsystem called Saxon so had always been to studios since I was young. It was buying records that made me want to make music. It starts off with turntables and mixer and before long you’ve got a sampler and keyboard. I used to go to Black Market records with my mini disk player and get them to play my tunes on the shop floor. I liked the DIY ethos that came with club music. You could make tunes in a tower block and shift units to record stores directly.

According to your biog info you’ve worked with MJ Cole and El-B – two pioneers in their own right. How deep did the work go? Do you think their influence has rubbed off on your music?

Yes. With Matt Cole I assisted his manager at the time he released his first album and occasionally I used to go to the Soho records shops and select a few tunes for him. I was at the early FWD parties in West End and one day Matt came down and introduced me to EL-B. EL had been really helpful in the studio from day dot. He’s one of the few pioneers and not afraid to drop knowledge.

What’s your production set up like?

A cross between analog and digital... I’ve got things that are older than me. That’s what seems to work for me but you can use anything really. The computer changed everything but I try not to work like everyone else does. Equipment is nothing without ideas so I still go back my old Mini Discs to hear what I did when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. They sound bad but the ideas were great.

How would you describe your sound?

I’m feeling really at home with techno tinged grooves with a nod to the garage sound. I don’t just mean 2 step I mean the whole garage thing of twisting up the US house sound. It’s just a coincidence that geographically my studio is situated in the middle of the suburbs next to Actress and EL-B’s and sonically that’s what seems to happen too.

PhOtOmachine - Sine Language [Super]

You share an affinity to people like Martyn – in terms of providing a solid house groove with movement defining percussion on top - and those who build beats with a dancefloor in mind. What kind of music do you listen to in your own time?

Thanks. Martyn is a great producer – one of the few that has a distinctive sound. Because of my job I get sent lots of music and because of who I am I’m constantly consuming new tunes. I listen to lots; too much in fact. I have a big Studio One reggae collection and a love for Prince and Biggie. Nothing beats hearing music at its birth. Hearing dancehall in Jamaica for example is a rite of passage. Reggae producers have been pioneering for decades and I’d probably say that’s what I listen to most. That and early 80’s disco records...

What is an inspiration for you?

People; or more precisely going out to dark clubs. The next morning I want to soundtrack the entire night and capture the feeling in a 6 minute track. I remember going to a jungle rave watching DJ Ron and being mesmerized. I’d never heard of him but he had his name in lights and 1000 people dancing. My parents relaxed attitude to music genre was inspiring too. I’d hear the Bangles next to Buju Banton and not flinch.

Are there any producers you rate that the world should know about? Any peeps not getting the props you think they deserve?

The world needs to pay more attention to Funkineven. He’s already getting lots of props but he should get more. He’s such a dope producer. He’s another one who’s got his own sound and doing what he does really well. If he drops an album he’ll blow up.

You’ve got an EP forthcoming on Super – you’re the second artist on the label we’ve had curate a mix for us this year. Can you tell us a bit about that and shed some light on what else people can expect from you in 2011...

The Technicolour EP; I’m really happy with it actually. It works well and is more or less exactly how I imagined it would come out. It’s dark and light. Someone said on soundcloud the other day that it makes them want to dance and cry at the same time – that hit the nail on the head.
I’m looking to release a few more EP’s this year and keep busy. Some classic styles and others on a more mutant tip.

Tell us a little bit about the mix you’ve put together for us…

The mix is a little taster of what I play out in clubs. I’ve included a track I’m working on called ‘Freakquency,’ which is currently only available on the Technicolour coloured cassettes that you might find about.* Be quick there are only a handful of them I’ve been told.

Any words of wisdom, for our readers?

The Internet is a hyper reality. You can’t always believe the hype.


DOWNLOAD: PhOtOmachine – Sonic Router Mix #69


1. Greymatter - Seventh Disco
2. Daniel Wang - Not Feeling It
3. 24 Hour Experience - All Nighter
4. Ben Westbeech - Falling (Deetron Acid Dub)
5. Martyn & Mike Slott - All Nights
6. Julio Bashmore - Battle For Middle You
7. Cosmin TRG - Izolat
8. Hackman - Made Up My Mind
9. Omar S - Soley Supported
10. Bad Autopsy - Callback
11. Boddika - Boddika's House
12. Seiji - More of You
13. SBTRKT - Breakout
14. PhOtOmachine - FreaKQuency

Words: Oli Marlow

PhOtOmachine’s Technicolour EP is out now on Super.

We’ve actually kindly been given a couple of these very cassettes to give away here. To scoop one send us an email with the answer to the below question by the 1st March.

Q: Who made the ‘808 Reduction’ remix of PhOtOmachine’s ‘Technicolour’?

Winners will be picked at random and will be notified by email.


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