Machineheart, on Being a Collection of Artists and the Importance of “Showing Up” To Live Shows

I hesitate to say that Machineheart are going to be “the next big thing,” (although I wouldn’t be totally surprised if their first full-length got them headlining the stages...

I hesitate to say that Machineheart are going to be “the next big thing,” (although I wouldn’t be totally surprised if their first full-length got them headlining the stages of mega-clubs and their second full-length possibly afforded them the opportunities to headline arenas) I certainly suspect they are going to be big in the near future.  The LA five-piece released the In Your Dreams EP over the summer and they are just about to kick off a run of dates opening for indie pop mega-hitters Smallpools and soulfully synthy chanteuse Phoebe Ryan, who’s providing direct support (And not to be at all dismissive of the “headliners,” but I suspect the sets from Machineheart and Phoebe Ryan will wind up being the evening’s highlights… Did you see Ms. Ryan opening for Say Lou Lou at the hyper-intimate Boot & Saddle last month?)

Friday, October 16th, will find Smallpools, Phoebe Ryan, and Machineheart on the stage of our very own Trocadero Theatre, and while I suspect the evening will be an exceptionally delightful night of music, I’m kind of thinking that Machineheart’s 7:30pm opening set just might contain the evening’s most memorable moments.  Machineheart’s recent EP boasts the best kind of anthemic contemporary sass pop I’ve heard in recent years, mixing the sentiments of legitimately impressive pop rock with the kind of swagger of recent history’s most danceable R&B.  I recently got the chance to chat with Machineheart’s insanely enchanting frontwoman, Stevie Scott (who is just as charming as she is lovely and impressive), about the band, who have already become hyper-darlings of both bloggers and digital download enthusiasts.

I ask Stevie about what she considers to be the highlights of Machineheart so far and she admits that they’re actually quite varied.

“That’s a really good question right off the bat… I think the highlights for us are going out and playing shows on tour and meeting people who have connected with our songs.  We really hope people connect with the music and you can sort of interact with fans online, which is really great.  And I guess having ‘Watercolors’ get a spot on The Mindy Project, which was really cool.”

And while Stevie tends to get the brunt of the attention as the band’s frontperson and most explicitly charismatic member, she tells me that Machineheart really is a true collaborative effort and that they get the most enjoyment out of bouncing ideas off of each other and revising songs based on their own, respective backgrounds, which is what ultimately results in the aesthetic found on Machineheart’s recordings.

“We’re all artists and everyone has an opinion.  For me, lyrically, it’s so important that it comes from an authentic place and my guys let me do that, which is great.  You have songs like ‘Circles,’ where you show up in the morning and a few hours later you just have a song.  Musically, the boys all come from Washington, the Seattle area, in the ‘90s, so they grew up with things like Nirvana, Radiohead, and Foo Fighters and I come from a slightly more ethereal background, growing up with things like Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac.  What’s really cool for me is having the whole band vibe.  I did the whole solo thing for a while, but I like this dynamic of collaboration.”

Stevie also tells me that the experience of the live show is exceptionally gratifying and that’s where she feels like Machineheart can come full circle, regarding the sounds they’ve been working on on their lonesome in a studio: “For us, the live show is just so much fun. When you’re working on music it’s kind of very private and hidden and then you take it to a live setting and it goes from a monologue to a dialogue with the audience.  We give everything that we have live, and you have to be there and be in the moment, and it’s so hard with technology these days, but you have to really show up for the show.”

And while Machineheart, a band I’m claiming to be a “big thing” in the very near future, is yet to release a full-length LP, it’s something that they recently completed and will be hitting shelves in the relatively near future.  And it’s something that Stevie tells me she is not only anxious to get to her supporters, but something that feels a bit overdue, considering the time they’ve already had in the postmodern musical spotlight: “We just wrapped up our time in the studio and we can’t wait for our fans to see a full picture of Machineheart.  It’s been baby steps so far, but it’s important that we bare our soul for the album.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.