KID MACHINE is the first artist of this week's Mancunian special. I've had the pleasure of talking to him via Twitter for about a couple months now. Kid Machine makes great Italo-Disco tracks with stabbing synths and shuffling beats that echo the sounds of the 70s and 80s. Be sure to check out his great catalog of tracks on SoundCloud as you enjoy this interview.
1. Describe your sound. What are some of your influences? Who are your old and new favorite artists?
KM: "It's always hard to describe, I think I change it every time I sit down to write. It's probably electronic synth music with a strong underpinning of Italo. It's quite melancholic, slow, dark and nostalgic.
My influences are also hard to pin down. I think probably every sound, every piece of music i've heard or DJ'd have gone in to what is my sound now. A few all time influences would be Daft Punk, Jarre, Space, Talk Talk. My more recent influences are Flemming Dalum's mixes, Ali Renault, Casionova, Moustache records, Valerie collective, Kano, Italo Disco like Casco, Vocoder, I love the darker, emotional side of Italo, this is what i listen to when i'm not sleeping every single day. I take down notes on my phone about certain sounds, like if a track has a certain snare sound, i go home and try and re-create it. I always search for the instrumental versions of Italo, in my opinion some of these tracks from the mid 80's were probably over looked as the songs were so cheesy, but the music was so goood! To summarise, I think that i'm mainly influenced by all things 80's, especially synths, movies, TV shows, design and photography. I guess the music I write now is what I would have made in 1985 if I wasn't a 6 year old and had the equipment to do it! "
2. What is your hardware and software collection like?
"I'm a software user really. I use a Mac, with Ableton Live 8, I build and adapt sounds from the instruments in Ableton. I can't live without TAL's freebies. UNO 62 is used in most of my tracks for pads, leads and chorus sounds.
I have a Groovebox 303, some old 80's Casio's (home synths). I have a cool little Casiotone MT-52, but don't really use any of these. Software is so powerful now. I can literally sit down, mess around with some presets, build an Analog patch from scratch, and i'm away. I use samples of all the classic drum machines. Linn being my favourite. I love the fact that on a computer you can use a 909 Kick, Linn snare, DMX shaker all together. Nice and flexible.
I use a very basic MIDI keyboard with 49 keys, it's a cheap one from Dawsons (UK music store), but my production method is SO simple that I don't need a million buttons and knobs and faders. I'd just get pissed off :)
Saying that, i'd love some vintage hardware, a JUNO, Jupiter and some drum machines."
3. Outside of synths, what is your production setup like? Do you have any favorite plugins?
"TAL plugins, like Bassline, Bitcrusher, UNO. Ableton packs are seriously good. So much choice and flexibilty. I'd love some of the emulators like the Jupiter."
4. How do you typically start a track?
"I usually start a 'good track' when I have to go out somewhere. This ALWAYS happens. Sometimes I cancel a night out to make tunes if i'm 'on to something good'.
Initially I lay down some drums, then I have my favourite plugin preset for an Arp'd bassline. I play some basslines, and when i'm happy, I start to jam melodies over that. Then, I get little repetitive sequences that sometimes lie under my whole track. Once all my sounds and clips are done in Session view, i lay them down in Abletons Arrangement view, and spend a few hours arranging it all. I try to roughly arrange to the traditional song structures.
Some tracks begin with small 4 notes sequences like 'Freak Mystique' and then I build it around that. "
5. What are your live shows like?
"I have played three times as Kid Machine live. Twice in Edinburgh, once in Manchester. They went ok. It's something I plan to do once my album is done. I have a vocalist now called Mel Uye Parker. She's someone I used to know back in 2003. I lost touch until I saw her working behind a bar in May before an Anoraak gig. I passed her a handwritten note, 'I need a vocalist, facebook me'. She did, she sang over my tune 'The Stakeout', it sounded so 80's, so moody, so we're now writing lots together. Even though we're both in Manchester, we still produce using gmail, sending files and ideas across to each other. We plan to tour as a duo, me on a synth/laptop, some cool visuals and Mel singing up front. I want our first gig to be a small, seedy, strobey, smoky dark room somewhere. Nice and 'underground'."
6. How long have you been making music? What inspired you to start?
"I began messing around on synths in the 80's on my brothers Yamahas. I always did electronic sounding stuff back then. I started collecting records and learning to mix in the mid 90's and had my first gig in Melbourne on xmas eve 1999. I played techno, trance and house. When I returned home to the UK in 2000 i bought a cheap PC, got copy of Sonic Acid, Sound forge and started to sample old disco. I made disco house as Maruko and had a release on my own imprint 'Deluded Recordings'. I made up some vinyl and sold it around Manchester's record shops. The EP 'NYC People' did ok, it also got a review in iDJ magazine, 'Slow paced disco at its finest' 4/5. Think you can still get it online second hand, but the mag is long gone. Gutted.
What inspired me to make music? not sure, it just kind of happened. I'm passionate about music and it sounds cheesy but it's just a part of me , it's something i enjoy and HAVE to do at all costs."
Below I'm excited to show off an exclusive demo of the classic track "The Stakeout" by Kid Machine.
The Stakeout - Kid Machine [Free Demo For The Synth Symp] by The Synth Symp