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EMPTY MACHINES

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW GLASGOW BAND EMPTY MACHINES

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

(Jodie) Music has always been a part of my life and therefore, it wasn’t much of a decision and something that I have always involved in. I played a lot of gigs when I was younger but this died down during lockdown, at which point Tam got in touch about the prospect of singing on tracks for Empty Machines. That was the thing that encouraged me to get back into music seriously again and it was brilliant getting back into the studio again. 

(Thomas) This was the same for myself. I was creative as a kid but was more into art until the age of around 12, when I became obsessed with music. I first started playing drums at about 14 and then just progressed from there. 

Introduce us you / all to the members and your musical history?

(Jodie) I’m Jodie and I’m the vocalist for Empty Machines. Before this, I was a singer songwriter and played gigs around Glasgow and at events including Celtic Connections. I had always played acoustically, with my own stuff being quite folky, so this is a very different sound for me. It’s exciting being part of something different and where we can experiment with new ideas. 

(Thomas) I’m Thomas and I produce the music for Empty Machines. I initially started this project just as a means to be creative, therefore they started off as instrumentals. I felt the stuff I was working on had some potential so got in touch with Jodie, as she is an excellent singer. I feel that Jodie’s tone and vocal performance suits the dark cinematic vibe of the songs. Previously I played drums for a Glasgow band called Sonic Hearts Foundation. 

What was life like for you before music?

(Jodie) As mentioned, music has always been a part of my life but in a very different way. I work full time in my day job, and so music for me used to look like grabbing my guitar and going to an open mic night or playing at venues in Glasgow. In Empty Machines, our presence has been all online so far, and so the biggest change I’ve experienced is being in the studio more, recording tracks and promoting our music online rather than being out at venues and playing at different events. 

(Thomas) I really can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a part of my life. I know this sounds really cheesy and cliché but music literally is everything to me. I consume music all day, every day and it’s always been like this for me. 

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

(Thomas) It’s hard to say what song specifically steered me into music but there are people who have really influenced my life musically. Pink Floyd, The Doors and T.Rex are some of my favourite bands. I heard all of these for the first time at around 8 or 9 years old through my uncle Robert. My brother Brian introduced me to all the bands coming out in the early 2000’s such as The Strokes, White Stripes, and BRMC. I remember traveling with my dad in the car and him blasting Neil Young’s ‘Like a Hurricane’. So, I have been really lucky to have been surrounded by people who love good music. 

(Jodie) My mum was an amazing pianist and my dad has an extensive knowledge of music, so it’s hard to remember exactly which song steered me on to a music path. However, I do remember playing ‘Fisherman Blues’ by the Waterboys on the guitar whilst pretending to be Mike Scott after seeing them at Celtic Connections in Stornoway when I was 9 or 10. I felt like a rockstar learning that song!

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

(Thomas) We are virtually brand new. We only started 6-months ago. So, we barely even have a fan-base yet, but this is what we are trying to grow. Our debut single, ‘Luna’, got broadcasted on BBC Radio 1’s BBC Introducing show which was a massive achievement and a massive surprise for us. But we are aiming to keep this going as we love making music and we hope that after a year or so we have a bit of a fan base. We are very much aware of how difficult an industry this is to crack, however, that doesn’t take anything away from our music as I am confident in what we are doing and am confident in our unique sound.   

Whats the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?

(Jodie) I’ve learned from promoters how easily it is to be exploited for work as a musician, especially in Glasgow. I used to play in venues constantly, selling huge amounts of tickets and handing over all the cash to whoever had booked out the venue. I hugely sympathise with musicians trying to make a living with the ‘pay to play’ issue that I’ve experienced ever since I started playing gigs. 

(Thomas) I have also had bad experiences with promoters and venues similar to what Jodie is describing. I believe bands at all levels should have a minimum fee. Bands and artists shouldn’t be out of pocket to play live. I feel music is the least valued art form financially. Just look at what’s happening with Spotify just now. 

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you?

(Jodie)

I have a dog called Bambi

I have climbed Kilimanjaro 

I’m an ultra marathon runner 

(Thomas)

I have a cat named after Stevie Nicks

I once played an impromptu guerrilla gig on top of a shop across from the Barrowlands after a Babyshambles gig. To my surprise the majority of the capacity of the venue decided to stay and some decided to climb on top of the shop. This inevitably caused riot vans to turn up. 

I have been skydiving three times 

If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?

(Jodie) More time! It’s so hard having to juggle full-time work with all the other responsibilities that life throws at you. 

(Thomas) I would say more time, or some sort of financial help. But I reckon all small unsigned bands would be in the same boat as us. 

Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….

(Jodie) I don’t worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture, because I often think that people who ‘take things the wrong way’ are the ones who are fighting for justice and equality. If I said something that somebody didn’t agree with or felt was problematic, I would prefer to listen and learn from them rather than becoming defensive. It’s how we learn and grow to become more compassionate towards one another. 

(Thomas) I personally feel people are too sensitive now, which is likely due to people spending so much time on social media. We are all individuals with different experiences and opinions. I respect everyone’s opinion whether it aligns with my views or not. Some of my best friends have completely different viewpoints from myself. I don’t understand why people are being offended by someone having a different opinion from themselves. 

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If no why not?

(Jodie) I always like to hear people’s conspiracy theories but I’m not personally invested in any conspiracy theories. I think as humans we become interested in conspiracy theories because we are always trying to make sense of the world around us, so sometimes it’s easier on an emotional level to believe a conspiracy theory than to accept the harsh reality. I am a firm believer in science, evidence and facts, and so I think some conspiracy theories are nonsense. However, I am also conscious of how far humanity still has to go in understanding the world around us, and I think that’s where conspiracy theories are really important, because it allows us to question which truths we believe and encourages us to do more research to come to our own conclusion. 

(Thomas) I will start off by saying that I don’t like the term ‘Conspiracy Theory’. This is because I feel it bundles a lot of theories in together and muddies the water. I don’t like the term as I personally feel it discredits the few that have some merit. The fact that there are still classified documents on the assassination of JFK that haven’t been released yet, raises some questions in my opinion. I would say the far majority are nonsense though and I personally find it a bit concerning that there seems to be some traction on social media about the earth being flat. Especially when that one is so easily debunked. 

What was the recording process like?

(Thomas) I like to experiment a lot and have the luxury of having a home studio. So, I recordwhile I am writing. I can usually tell pretty quickly if I find something sonically interesting. At least to me anyway. Then I will pursue that project, as I like to work quickly. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

(Thomas) It’s very difficult to write, record and mix your own music. For me anyway. It’s hard for me to not overanalyse every detail. I now put deadlines on projects that I am working on or I would never finish them. 

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

(Thomas) Things can always be better but there is a time frame in which we have to operate so it’s as good as it could be, giving that I am juggling all the band stuff and a full-time job that has me out of the house 50 to 60 hours per week. Once the song is finished and out, I don’t go back and have any regrets. I just want to move forward on to the next project and get another song out, hopefully improving a little each time.

What was the worst experience on stage?

(Jodie) I went through a phase where I laughed whenever I was nervous. I was playing on radio and just kept stopping to laugh every two minutes and the whole thing was just horrendous. 

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

(Thomas) People haven’t seen this yet but all of our songs are quite different. This will be more evident with our third single release which will be out next year. I don’t know many new bands that are crossing genres and not being tied down to a specific sound. We don’t want to be kept in a box and be controlled by our own art. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

(Thomas) We are releasing our next single, ‘Velvet Sky’ on the 15th of December and it will be available across all streaming platforms. We will also be releasing an instrumental version of Velvet Sky at the end of December and will be following up with our third single release, entitled ‘Vicious Vulture’ around March/April next year. 

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