This past month, Adam and Nik of the synthpop duo Photostat Machine have come up with not one but TWO doses of pure addictive noise in the form of an EP entitled Kiss Me followed by a full length release called Deadly which drops May 27. We had the chance to have a chat with these gents about their new music and got a glimpse of what makes them tick. Have a seat, sit back and lose yourself in Photostat Machine.[hr color=”light-grey” width=”100″ border_width=”50″ ]
When listening to the new EP, Kiss Me, a common theme of relationships and desire seems to surface. Where did you draw your inspiration for each song? Is there a theme that you feel resonates more with the music of Photostat Machine than others?
Nik: We tend to think about a direction at the start of a project and for this LP and series of EPs we wanted it to be positive with a strong sense of unity, which is where the relationship elements come from. But then I think there’s usually a natural darkness that comes through in our songs. A sense of questioning, a sense of realism. Inspiration for individual songs can come from anywhere and often we bounce off each others ideas, even if we don’t talk about it that much. With ‘Deadly’ the title came first and in the context of the song the phrase ‘kiss me deadly’ inspired the direction and the idea of an eternal passionate loving unity.
Adam: I think ‘love’ in its many guises has been a theme running through our songs since Signs Of Life. I’m not talking about love songs in the traditional sense. The relationship elements are an important theme. There’s also quite a few songs about life in general, about the uncertainties that lay ahead, and about being pretty philosophical about life and death. That’s certainly what Blown is about. I don’t think we would very convincing as ‘ooh baby I love you’ type artists, but there are ways of talking about love without resorting to that. But we are thoughtful and happy in life and I like to think that shines through.
On the EP you guys have two versions of the song “Deadly.” For those who have followed your releases up to this point, there are quite a few remixes of your own music in the catalog. Why remix your own music? What is the most difficult aspect of remixing your own music? Anyone you’d like to remix in the future?
Nik: We sometimes write complete songs separately and sometimes collaboratively. It means we don’t really have defined roles except Adam does most of the singing and beats. It also means we can hear different directions that songs can go in and remixing each others songs allows us to explore that —and it helps a lot that we know and trust each others work. For me the hardest part is knowing when to stop adding parts. There’s a track ‘”The Sun And The Moon And The Stars & The Rainfall” where the version on PreviewTransmission LP was mixed and sung by me but the version on the I Want YouNow EP was completely reworked and sung by Adam in a faster tempo. Very different moods but I’m very proud of both versions. And its also a value thing, you won’t find any mix on more than one of our releases, and we take care to make our remixes interesting.
Adam: That’s right. The trust is essential. We also bring different things and qualities to the mix, literally! Although we listen to different music, at the core is a love of synths and electronic music. Nik tends to be better with interesting chord progressions and usually fleshes out my basic bass and drums plus one-finger melody approach. On his tracks I just ditch the drums and do them from scratch! We are still relatively new to collaborating, and the only remix of someone else’s instrumental we have done is the Do You WantLove? tracks that you reviewed. We added words and melody to the original and for all the mixes, we decided to crank up the tempo a notch or several. But we are very much open to collaborating with others. Our good friend Yogi Wan (who is designing our website) has featured on a track of ours (The Outsider, on Common English Mistakes) and has also remixed George Goes To Moscow for The Rest Is Future EP. He has also provided additional drums on one of the tracks on Deadly (This Is The Night). I also think the remixes allow us to unleash our frustrated dance artist 🙂 We enjoy remixing other people’s tracks as well and if we are talking established artists, doing a Depeche remix would be an incredible thing to be involved in.
One might say that Kiss Me serves as a warm up to your next LP entitled Deadly dropping on the 27th. What can you tell us about Deadly? How is Kiss Me the perfect accompaniment to the album?
Nik: Deadly has that positive feel, and plenty of carefully crafted tunes and harmonies — some of our strongest work to date. I think of it as life affirming with a twist of the film noir. But we’re all different and it’s what you the listener gets from it that counts. Kiss Me is cut from the same cloth and presents the LP title track “Deadly” in both a shorter more pop mix and also a longer more chill mix. The track has quite an intense mood and so the other tracks are lighter and complimentary. “Blown [Away]” is my remix of the original LP version that Adam mixed. The other track “This Love” isn’t on the LP but could quite easily have been.
Adam: It’s also the first time we’ve had a title track. We nearly did with “Sign Of Life” from the Signs Of Life album. But this was a key track for us I think. We both realised it was a pretty big sound, and I think it helped us set the standard for all the tracks. Does it stand up to ‘Deadly?’ It was one of the more collaborative songs on the LP, and this LP has more of those than ever before. I also think that some of the elements of the LP refer to the connections we are making as a band with others. Social media really means we can reach and connect with more people than ever before. This interview, for example :-). The opening track on the LP, Not Even is all about that. The power of connecting with people. Part of the chorus says “we are taking the chance to believe in the power of making it happen together.” I think the excitement we’re getting from these connections is certainly driving us forward.
For the time you guys have been around, you have have amassed a very large catalog of music. How did it all begin for you guys?
How did you meet? How do you find the time to keep putting out that much music?
Nik: We met at school and both love music. Adam played the drums, I bought some synthesizers and taught myself to play. We’ve been in more traditional bands but together we wanted to be able to make a sound like “Photographic,” an early Depeche Mode song. It’s always been more about the song and the sound than a musical performance for me and as we’re not a touring band that plays live at the moment, there’s more time to write songs.
Adam: Absolutely. Modern technology allows you to easily capture thoughts on your phone and turn them into songs when you get to the studio. I’m always thinking about things that happen in terms of songs. Phrases friends say, catching a look on a fellow commuter’s face and immediately building a story in your head around that. A lot of the time it comes almost organically. You’re sitting there playing some chords or a bass progression, and start singing along. The words don’t mean anything at first, but they fit the mood and rhythm. Sometimes, we’ll send each other an instrumental with a title, and the other one of us will translate that into something. As Nik says, Deadly was one such track. So was “Left Justified” on the album. It comes back to that complete trust in each other. Knowing you can just throw an idea to Nik and you’re going to get something back that just feels right.
If you could be reincarnated into any musical instrument of your choice what would you be and why (you can include make and model)?
Who would you want to be your musician playing you?
Nik: That’s a weird question which deserves a weird answer and time travel. I’d like to be reincarnated as I Start Counting’s tape recorder, the one mentioned in their track “See How It Cuts.” It must have played and recorded some great music from behind the scenes. They are a great band, now recording as Komputer. I’ve not met them but KomputerDave sent me a photo of the tape recorder after I mentioned it on Twitter.
Adam: Yeah, that’s a weird, but great, question! As Nik mentioned, I was a drummer, initially. I’m going to go against type and say I would like to have been Roger Taylor’s (from Queen, not Duran Duran) drum kit. That guy can play! Also, his solo album Fun In Space is a lost classic. But If I had to be a kit in a particular moment, it would be Chris Frantz’s drum kit on the “Stop Making Sense” gig, filmed by Jonathan Demme. That gig is perhaps the best to be committed to video. It looks such fun to have done, and to be the driving rhythm behind it all would be something![hr color=”light-grey” width=”100″ border_width=”50″ ]
Photostat Machine’s music library is available for purchase on Bandcamp with a “name your own price” format. We at Fourculture encourage you to pay what you can to support the artists.
— Serena Butler | @LaRenceb