The In the Machine Age Interview

Published On December 15, 2011 | By Kymbo Slice | Interviews
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In The Machine Age is coming up this Friday night at Brillo Box. Locals Pittsburgh Track Authority will be celebrating their record release as well, and to lube you up for the event, they’ve released a mix of some of their tracks, both released and unreleased. You can check the mix out at the bottom of this post. Download that shiz! Bomb diggity. Fellow Machine Age Records act TM Eye will share the bill alongside the well-known and respected Shawn Rudiman. DJ Skurge of Detroit’s Underground Resistance rounds out the bill for what’s sure to be a fantastic night of tunes. We wanted to learn more about what inspired this event, so we asked Preslav Lefterov of TM Eye and PTA and PTA‘s Tom Cox a few questions. Behold Machine Age in a nutshell.

Kymbo Slice: Can you tell us a little more about the “In The Machine Age” party and how you aim to showcase the artists on Machine Age Records? How does DJ Skurge fit into this picture?
Preslav Lefterov In The Machine Age was founded by Preslav, Tom, Adam, and Erin in 2011. We operate three record labels: Machine Age Records, Love What You Feel, and the newly formed Pittsburgh Tracks. The event on December 16th is to celebrate what we’ve been doing this year. We decided to make the event a collaboration between artists that are releasing music on the label and some of our friends. DJ Skurge is part of Underground Resistance in Detroit and performed as part of Interstellar Fugitives at this year’s VIA festival. UR and Detroit are a big influence on how we would like to approach our labels so it’s great to have Skurge in Pittsburgh again.

KS: How will TM Eye VS PTA work? Can you expand upon this VS notion?
PL: We utilize similar setups and techniques for our live shows. We also write and produce a lot of the music at Machine Age Studios for both projects. So it’s actually a very natural combination. The goal is to have one fluid set of music from both acts and add more of the live element to the music.

KS: Why did you choose Shawn Rudiman to play this bill?
PL: Shawn has been a continuing influence on what PTA and TM Eye do. As an integral part of Machine Age Studios for the past 7 years, Shawn has provided priceless advice on equipment and live shows through his touring and production experience. Basically he gave us the blueprint on how to approach live sets without relying on computers, which is not too common in today’s live performance world. There are very few acts who actually do that and it was essential that he is also a part of this night. Adam from PTA was a key part in Technoir Audio – the Pittsburgh label formed by Shawn, Jwan Allen, Adam and a collective of others that released a number of Shawn’s successful records and brought attention to Pittsburgh electronic music years ago. So as a good friend and accomplished producer, Shawn will inevitably be a key part in what we do with In The Machine Age.

KS: Tom – How did PTA transition from playing DJ sets to live sets? And with such fervor? PTA’s first live performance was very much talked about in a positive way. Were you expecting that type of response?
TC: We got together to make music initially, with no real idea what was going to come of it. Once the tracks started flowing and we got good responses from deejays and labels we respected, we decided to start doing our night at Eclipse where we could play some of the music that influenced us alongside some of our tracks (big ups Ray Matthews for hooking that up for us!). We had kind of always thought about doing a live set at some point, so when Quinn and Lauren from VIA approached us in the springtime about doing a live performance to open for Dam-Funk at this year’s VIA festival, that was the final kick in the ass we needed to get things moving. Thankfully, Preslav had some experience doing live sets with TM EYE and with the knowledge we got from watching Shawn do his thing, we were able to figure out a way to translate the studio tracks into a live set. The final additions were our percussionist Cottrell, as well as the live continuation of our collaborations with Nice Rec (who appeared on our very first record) and Phil to round it out. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were confident in our music and it turned out to be quite a night! We try to keep adding new music to our live set, both things we have recorded as well as new things that have turned into recordings after having jammed on them live. If we’re gonna do something like this, we try to make sure we do it right. Hopefully that is what comes across to the people who see us live.

KS: Preslav – Where does TM Eye fit into your plan considering you’re involved in a lot of musical endeavors at the moment? Speaking of, what other projects are you working on?
PL: TM Eye is a unique musical endeavor. I believe it brings a lot of influences from underground dance music and combines them with the songwriting and live performance. I don’t think you often hear music that sounds like TM EYE and I always believe that is a good thing. Phil Boyd as a solo artist and part of Modey Lemon was a big influence on me when we started Machine Age Studios in 2002. To have him involved with the label (he just released his Hidden Twin EP on Machine Age Records, which was mentioned by the Post Gazette as one of their highlights of 2011) and as part of TM EYE is awesome.

As far as other music projects, it’s really the same people under different aliases. Adam and I work on Drum & Bass music under Sight Unseen – we have a record coming out on LTJ Bukem’s legendary Good Looking imprint. There is TM Eye with Phil Boyd – we have a record coming out on Ben Blackwell’s (from the Dirtbombs) label Cass Records, one song of which was co-produced by PTA. Pittsburgh Track Authority (PTA) is myself, Thomas Cox, and Adam Ratana. We had two releases over the past year and our third record is coming out on our own Pittsburgh Tracks label. So there is a lot of collaboration: Adam and I helped with some of the mixing on the Hidden Twin records, Phil wrote lyrics and added production on a PTA track which ended up being on the Cass release, etc. Look out for other combinations and surprises in 2012.

I would also like to mention that we are very happy to be working with Aaron Clark‘s newly established Eighty Agency for all bookings of all of the aforementioned music projects. We believe Aaron is doing a great service to Pittsburgh music by establishing a booking agency that puts rising acts such as PTA or TM EYE with more established artists like Shawn Rudiman and Claude Young.

KS: What is Machine Age Records’ relationship with brother/sister labels Pittsburgh Tracks and Love What You Feel?
PL: All three labels are owned and operated by the same four people: Preslav, Tom, Adam, and Erin. Each label has a different musical direction but all the logistics, promotion, and financing are handled together. Machine Age Records will put out a very wide range of music in different tempos and genres. Love What You Feel is a more straightforward underground dance music imprint, and Pittsburgh Tracks will focus on releasing music by the Pittsburgh Track Authority and our various collaborators from Pittsburgh and beyond.

Get out and support these cats Friday! Doin big thangs for the music scene in the PGH!

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