Q: Hey there! I am so happy to be talking with you both today. I love “Velvet Sky” and its experimental blend of multiple genres, including alternative rock, electronica, and dark wave, to name a few. In your own words, how would you describe the music you two typically create?
EMPTY MACHINES: (Thomas) I actually find it quite hard to describe our music, as like you said, there are a blend of genres. Velvet Sky is quite a dark sounding song, but not all of our songs will sound like this. All of our songs sound quite different as we don’t want to be controlled and tied down with any one style or genre. This will be more evident as we release more music. We sort of go more for a ‘vibe’, rather than restrict ourselves by staying in any one genre. We both love all sorts of styles and genres and that is probably why our music is a little blended. We don’t start a new song with any intention. We just experiment and let the song guide us. So, we never have the thought, that “this doesn’t sound like us”.
Q: What are the pros and cons of being responsible for all of the writing, recording, and mixing that goes into your music? Do you prefer it that way to be completely hands on?
EMPTY MACHINES: (Thomas) There is only really one downside in my opinion and it’s the fact that you can get stuck on a song for too long due to over analyzing it, but I suppose you can have the same situation by over-rehearsing a song. I like the freedom of just making up stuff on the fly and it being recorded straight away. I love the studio and recording process as it assists me to be more creative. Of course, I’d love to work with a great engineer, in a great studio, but the way we work would make this financially impossible.
Q: I’m always interested in an artist’s musical journey. Do you remember when you both first fell in love with music? Did you have musically inclined families growing up?
EMPTY MACHINES: (Jodie) Music has always been a part of my life. I was born in a birthing pool and ‘Stand and Deliver’ by Adam and the Ants was playing as I entered the world! My mum was an amazing pianist and my dad has an extensive knowledge of music, so I’ve always loved music.
(Thomas) My whole family are huge music fans, and they are all into different types of music. So, they’ve all influenced my taste growing up in one way or another. My older brother had a colossal CD collection back in the early 2000’s, and this was like my education. The majority of my favourite bands, I heard for the first time through my brother.
Q: A bit relating to the last question: was there a pivotal moment in your lives when you decided to follow your paths as musicians?
EMPTY MACHINES: (Jodie) I won a local talent show when I was 17 and had never performed in front of anyone before this. Having people enjoying listening to me gave me a lot of confidence so I started playing a lot of gigs, but this died down during lockdown. Tam then got in touch about the prospect of singing on tracks for Empty Machines which was the thing that encouraged me to continue to follow my path as a musician.
(Thomas) It was when I was in school and played the drums for the first time. It came really natural to me. I’ve been playing drums since I was about 14. That sort of pushed me into actually playing music and wanting to learn instruments. From that moment, music has been ingrained in every section of my life.
Q: Thomas, starting Empty Machines as a solo artist, I’m curious how the creative process has changed for you since becoming a duo.
EMPTY MACHINES: (Thomas) I wouldn’t really class it as a solo artist as such, as I didn’t even know if the songs were going to see the light of day at the time. It was more like a project as a means to be creative. I’ve got quite a lot of instruments and have a small home studio set-up. I hadn’t worked on anything for years, and like many people, during lock down, I started to work on some stuff. I initially was planning on creating instrumentals that would suit film and TV and just upload it to sound cloud or something. but as I was working on them, I felt they had some potential and was interested to see what vocals would be like on them. That’s when I contacted Jodie. So, it hasn’t really changed much to be honest. It was always a work in progress and it continues to be this way. It’s good to have someone to give me some feedback now though.
Q: What did you both enjoy most about making “Velvet Sky”?
EMPTY MACHINES: (Jodie) I enjoyed messing around with the melody in the studio because we hadn’t decided exactly how that would sound until the music and lyrics were finished. It was fun experimenting in the studio.
(Thomas) For me it’s the creative process. Just experimenting and seeing where the song goes. See where the creative process takes you. I never have any preconceptions of how a song will sound. I don’t want to put any barriers up before the songs had a chance to grow. I just let the song become what it is organically. I don’t want to get in the way of the song.
Q: Jodie, your vocals are beautiful. It’s a perfect mix of grittiness yet also angel-like at the same time, somewhat reminiscent of voices like Amy Lee of Evanescence. Who are your biggest influences?
EMPTY MACHINES: (Jodie) Thank you so much! I grew up listening to rock music and watching Kerrang!, so I always loved listening to female vocalists like Amy Lee who could sound soft one minute and then hit those deep, belly busting notes the next. My favourite vocalists growing up all had a rawness to their voice which I always admired – Pink!, Amy Winehouse and Aretha Franklin were hugely influential for me. Growing up as a teen in the 2010s, I felt like a lot of female artists were there because they looked the part and auto tune was a thing, but I felt like Pink! and Amy Winehouse could come and sing in my living room and still blow me away. That’s still the thing I admire most about vocalists today – that raw talent that doesn’t need any editing or changing and is appreciated for what it is.
Q: Thanks so much for talking with me today! What is coming up next for you as a band?
EMPTY MACHINES: (Thomas) Velvet Sky is out on the 15th of December, and we will be releasing an instrumental version of that before the end of the year. So, short term, we want to get ‘Velvet Sky’ to as many ears as possible. Long term, we are aiming to release material with no more than a five or six month gap between each release. So, hopefully we will be following up with our third single, ‘Vicious Vulture’ around April or May at the latest.
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano
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