Electric Sloth got a chance to sit down with M Machine member Ben “Swardy” to discuss the group’s upcoming appearance at the Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe IL next weekend where they will be playing the Starshine stage on Saturday night from 12 – 1 AM. The group recently finished headlining the Metropolis tour of 15+ dates around the country and still have a few summer festival dates ahead of them. They also recently released the ‘Metropolis: Remixed EP’ featuring a reimagining of their first album.

“This festival has a specific vibe to it that you only find in a few other fests like in Michigan with Electric Forest and Camp Bisco in New York”


Electric Sloth: How did you guys meet?

The M Machine: “Eric & myself meet at college, we both went to UC Santa Barbra, we were guitar players and song writing enthusiasts. In his senior year Eric went off to Berlin and he was really into dance music when he came back. So we both started listening to producers like Boys Noize and Justice. Then after that we go up to San Francisco where we meet Andy and all 3 of us were interested in pursuing careers in game audio, while we were working to the eventual goal we were writing tracks together and it was in that time period where you could send you song to a couple blogs and then suddenly there’s some kind of demand to here you play.”


ES: How do you guys coordinate the live sets between 3 people when nowadays most people just use CDJ’s and a mixer?

MM: “So our live show works like this, there is 3 of us, Andy, Eric, & myself Swardy, and we all sing live, we don’t have a ton of original vocal music but we have some and we definitely have vocal responsibilities on stage. I am usually on stage left using a Midi controller to trigger samples and lead synths. Eric is in the middle mixing in the traditional sense but then he has to mix all the live elements and the vocals as well. Then Andy uses most of his time doing the video show, so he is actually preforming using VJ software and he creates and collects and sometimes pays people to make some cool video content  that he can then use to perform live”


ES: The video is displayed on the big M stage correct?

MM: “We used to tour around with a physical M stage that we had built but we don’t use that anymore, so what Andy did was when he built the Machine he exhausted all his creativity that could go into a simple thing like that. So he took the data that he used to drive the M and repurposed it to drive a video show, he is a smart guy and he has designed a couple cool pieces of software that help him use Ableton to also drive the video show.  For example when I am playing something on the keys that can be represented visually it sends a little message to his computer and then it displays on screen, but at the same time he can cue up and play other video effects the same way a dj does with audio. He is in his own little world over there and it definitely contributes to our live show.”


“We’ve done a lot of these crossovers electronic & jam influenced festivals, some of those crossover acts [like Gramtik] find a cool middle ground for a lot of these shows and they definitely have the same crazy energy as a dance music party”


ES: Will the stage be used at Summer Camp this weekend?

MM: “There is still an M but it is displayed on a video wall so we no longer travel around with the physical machine anymore. So unfortunately no but the experience will be the same”


ES: Are you guys going to be joining Porter Robinson on the Worlds Tour or working on Metropolis pt. 3?

MM: “Neither, we get a lot of questions why we are not going out with Porter for Worlds, we chatted about it for a while and we all agreed that we can’t go on every single tour with him although we are massive supporters of what he is doing right now, the music and the attitude of doing exactly what you want and not trying to conform to the normal scene in dance music. Metropolis pt.3 is also not a thing, we are writing an album, and it’s long and has a broad scope. Metropolis was our first wormhole and this is bigger and we are trying a lot of new things and we are singing a lot.”


“The vibe of the show were gonna put on at summer camp is gonna be very metropolis centric, it’s going to be heavy and it’ll be fun”


ES: Who would be your ideal scamp artist collaboration?

MM: “Koan Sound who is playing before us on the Starshine stage, those guys are amazing, they write really really intricate and complicated and gritty music, and they do it without any kind of pretense. Hanging out with them is like hanging out with your buddies, I think they are a special project and I think we will do something with them some day.


ES: Favorite memories from metropolis tour?

MM: “Pretty much every show we did with BOTNEK, they do a heavy electro house sound and they are excellent excellent dudes from Montreal, bringing out people who still have the energy to get excited before every single night was really infectious and helped to keep us in high spirits a lot of the time and we owe them for some of the more fun evenings we had on the tour”


ES: If you could curate a one day festival lineup / M Machine showcase, who would you book?

MM: “Right this moment we have a friend from Montreal named Robotaki, he remixed our song ‘A King Alone’ on the Metropolis Remixed EP, we have also been listening to a lot of Todd Terje he does incredible disco & progressive music, and pretty much anyone from the Dirty Bird roster. Finally of course us and porter headlining”

ES: What’s next?

MM: “We are taking a ton of time off and we are only taking a handful of festival slots this summer, we have been song writing, it’s been interesting, we have been in the studio, at home in San Francisco, we have been here for months and we plan to be here for  months. We are really taking actual time off and its cool because the music is benefiting from it but I do have to admit the few times we have ventured out and saw all our old friends and it reminded me that everybody we have gotten to know over the last 4 years or so is going thru this same felling of its time to collapse back and write something new, something that is unrelated and isn’t necessarily for the main stage of a festival right now. So I have a very optimistic vibe. Everyone is working to come up with something this is a little bit fresher.”


The M Machine will be preforming a handful of live sets on the east coast this summer as well as playing sets at Hard Summer & Shambahala music festivals.

Make sure to catch The M Machine this weekend at Summer Camp Music Festival at the Starshine stage from 12-1am on Saturday night.


Written by: Rashid Lebz