After Two Decades of Music Production, Relevancy Is Not A Challenge for Machinedrum

Avec plus d’une vingtaine d’années d’expérience en production de musique électronique, Travis Stewart connu sous le nom de Machinedrum, démontre sa virtuosité aiguë en art contemporain, à travers son énième extrait dénommé Psyconia. Sa signature musicale, unique et remplie d’émotions, est le résultat de son apprentissage continuel en matière de production électronique qui comprend la synthèse et des techniques innovantes de conception sonore. 

Since his first release ‘Now You Know’ released on the ‘then’ popping music label Merck, Machinedrum stepped into scene now 20 years ago.

Bearing the stage name of Machinedrum and a long standing artist under the umbrella of the Ninja Tune record label, Travis Stewart is settled along with his family in California and now lives a life orbiting around meditation and the process of living with nature. The other essential thing he also revolves around is Technology. Being ‘isolated’ from the fast-paced technological world and rapid culture electronic music is associated to; could lead to believe a person like Stewart becoming outdated or some sort.

One could not be more wrong. Actually, on a spiritual note, isolating from the collective, or the group, provides space for one to understand and live with oneself. Understanding and being attentive to your human experience enables to understand and relate to all other humans. This attention equals to relevancy.

In one sense or the other, this attentiveness is how Stewart keeps being a visionary on his music making process. The technological signature and proportion his music takes on is nothing short of flabbergasting. In the perspective of a DJ, this music will deliver if you are building up a set made up of bold peaks and fast bpm’s. Also its really cool music to make your audience discover, highlighting on the feature that it evokes and attaches emotion to memory very well. We remember by feeling best, something learnt through isolation. 

Psyconia EP {2021}

Diving into his latest work, entitled Psyconia, the EP’s name which is a play of words that merges Psychic and Syconia. “Wait whats’s that?” _ Syconia is the plural world for Syconium, which is the scientific name for Fig Trees. “Okay?” _ The Fig tree actually is the inspiration for this album, as stated by Machinedrum;

We have a few fig trees growing on our property and they tend to withstand the harshest climates southern California throws at them, so I found that inspiring.” explains Stewart.

Fig trees historically stands for creation and abundance in various religions and cultures. It is the fruit from the tree of enlightenment. It represents a new understanding and a new beginning. Stewart also adds that “It’s especially relevant to this time in my life in which my daughter has become a symbol of creation and abundance in my life.”

Now that you know, hear out below our best picks from Psyconia.

‘Stairzzzzzz’ is quite self-explanatory to its sound. It builds up with a progressive increase of intensity, sustaining a crescendo for an insane time-lapse of two whole minutes! Then the drop comes in, the synthesiser unveils another facet and takes on a deeper voice as in an dubstep effect, and the innocent clap effect on the crescendo is taken over by a mind-boggling and feverish ‘drum and bass’ beat structure.

Mixing Tip:
This may sound daring to include on a DJ set, as you won’t want to lose the momentum you’ve built up on the floor. It would be wise to use the crescendo when you’re in transition of the end of your previous track, to mix it in.  Or, you could be bold as fortune will favour you, and keep the floor on suspense as the payout is big on the drop. It’ll be quite hard not to have an impact. Time it perfectly and reap the fruits. 

Stone Age‘ is one of the addition that makes this album more of a spectrum than a single definition, is the rap collaboration, this time with Deniro Farrar. Farrar’s voice was described by The Fader as “an eerily calm rasp that never leaves the emotional range of fuming mad”. Not an understatement.
Machinedrum has been producing notable rap collaborations, with the likes of Freddie Gibbs, Jesse Boykins III and more. 

“What actually happens when we hear sounds? We know that the membrane of the inner ear changes sound waves in audible sensations’’
‘Inner Ear‘ is a collaboration with another one of our favourite music producers, Chromesparks. He is behind the notable Sparks Ep among many more of his releases. Him and Machinedrum are inspired in exploring the complexity of our hearing process and perform as such by putting in varying levels of low frequencies (bass) and higher frequencies throughout. Best advised to listen on headphones or an appropriate speaker system. 

Psyconia ventures between the lines of  broken beats, hip-hop and drum & bass,the results are smart, banging and branded with Stewart’s utterly inimitable sonic signature.

Notable Mentions

Gunshotta From Gunshotta Ave {2013}

Gunshotta Ave is a district in Vapour City, where it is filled with crime, paranoia and darkness; as described by Machinedrum. If you’re wondering where on the map is the district or city found? It would quite difficult to point out.

Vapour City is a concept that came about throughout a series of vivid and recurring dreams Stewart had about a fictional city. His works regarding Vapour City has been meant to explore and provide definition to a district or neighbourhood within this world.

Vapour City Archives {2014)

In 2014, the Vapour City project was brought to its term with Vapour City Archives as its final chapter.

Human Energy {2016}

As per Stewart, ‘Human Energy’ took only three months to make from top to bottom, at the beginning of 2016. He challenged himself in writing something that did not consist of using samples and instead leant on a learning process of synthesis and new sound design methods. Stewart ended up making use of a set of skills learnt over the years from working with pop vocalists. Human Energy also consists of unprecedented music structure and synth tones, which has undoubtedly has been the apparition of the high-tech music signature towards A View of U and Psyconia.

A View of U {2020}

A View of U is an album produced mostly at home. It features the likes of Jesse Boykins, Jordan, and Freddie Gibbs. Gibbs recorded remotely and reverted swiftly with sleek output. The album also features Tigran Hamasyan on ‘Sleepy Pietro‘ which has a weird and uniquely sounding time signature. The album closes with ‘Ur2Yung’, apparently once slated for Kanye, but sounding perfect as an update of the glitchy hip-hop IDM that Stewart began with some 20 years ago.


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