Following the release of their perfectly crafted Call Me EP, a five-track acid slammer on Mr. C’s Superfreq, Bizarre Culture spoke to Jonra and E:Machinery about the release, their influences and their analogue creative process.
Their commitment to authenticity can be felt in the results, achieving a warmth reminiscent of acid’s Chicago origins. “We prefer the hands on feel of hardware, it has a way of influencing your choices by challenging you to work within a set of limitations. There is a sense of risk and tension in the sound of analogue signals which is difficult to reproduce in software synths.” Approaching production from a live transitional standpoint, Ableton Live acts primarily as a multitrack recorder and editor to centralize the creative process. “Recording live jams and ideas into the DAW from numerous drum machines and hardware sequencers, we quickly discovered that a solid MIDI clock is key to the tightness of the groove we’re trying to create. The clock in most computers is full of jitter and fluctuation, so we use an external unit by Innerclock Systems to sync our instruments.”
Unsurprisingly, an expansive hardware-based studio also makes collaboration far more interesting than crowding around a screen, and the pair are set up back to back on opposite sides of the room, each controlling sequencers and drum machines. “Over time we have gravitated toward our own set of instruments, though these are always changing. There is a foundation set of gear which has become our unique voice, but we like to introduce new equipment and experiment with new sounds all the time.”
Their creativity is driven by jamming and combining sounds live and on the spot, rather than carefully sculpting each synth parameter. “We like to set a mood and develop a groove first and foremost, reacting to each other’s sounds and performance in a live jam setting. Once we have an interesting idea, we will record it into the and develop it further, sometimes even evolving into an entirely new idea. The concept of capturing vocals, effects processing, filter sweeps, and note programming live is the essence of our production style. We edit into a completed track later.” For Jonra and E:Machinery, satisfaction comes from the creativity of plugging gear into a mixer and experimenting with the sounds. “We couldn’t sit there for hours browsing sounds and presets, we would realise we hadn’t created anything.”
Influenced by both the past and the present, Call Me draws on old school electro, industrial and 80s dark synth wave as much as current techno and house to showcase the pair’s distinctive style. The EP’s title track samples Dianna Ross’ version of Ain’t No Mountain, a nod to the disco and soul which play a big part in the mood and groove of their productions. The duo sample from many sources, even using a hand field recorder when walking around Los Angeles. “Internet and television broadcasts will often spark an idea from a track, and sometimes a word or phrase we hear on the street will become the idea for a vocal in the studio.”
Call Me is out now on Superfreq now. Listen above, and buy here.