UTG INTERVIEW: Aubergine MACHINE

aubergine machine

Florida-based electronic duo Aubergine MACHINE melds the production talents of decorated producer Ian Carey with the smooth vocal goodness of Shanti Ellis to form a well-balanced and highly enjoyable project that brings to mind the best elements of acts like Ghost Loft, Massive Attack, and Little Dragon.

We recently spoke with Carey and Ellis about everything from the origin of their unusual moniker to their most recent single release in “Hostage,” so read through below to get the scoop from the duo themselves and make sure to stream their single and its accompanying remix following the conversation.

First off, what can you tell me about the name Aubergine Machine? I know aubergine is another word for eggplant in some areas. Does that have anything to do with it?

[Laughs] Yeah it does have something to do with it. We came up with the name when we were living in Spain, and had a lot of British expat friends there. The Brits call eggplant aubergine and we thought it was kind of funny, so one night when we were eating eggplant we came up with the idea that Aubergine Machine would be a good band name. It’s more about the color in the concept though.

And how did the two if you originally come together to form this project?

We have worked on music together for years, but always writing for other artists/projects etc., and we just decided to do our own thing the way we wanted to.

Had you ever explored any other genres outside of electronic music before forming AM?

Most of what we do is electronic based, but we have many influences outside of the electronic music world. Some examples of our favorite non electronic music would be bub artists like Scientist, or Afrobeat like Fela Kuti, bossa nova from Astrud Gilberto, dreamy shoegaze of Mazzy Star, Fleetwood Mac, etc. Lots of classic sounds with many roots.

Would you say that those bands are your most important influences you draw from?

We draw from a lot of different places creatively. We listen to a lot of music and we do not discriminate. We listen to the most hipster of hipster to the most pop of pop and we appreciate it all. We value the fact that as we’ve grown musically we are able to appreciate music for what it is.

Ian, you already have an impressive resume with some of the accolades you’ve acquired in the past. Do you feel that your background and the connections you’ve accrued over the years have had any specific advantage in propelling this project or has it felt more like starting any other endeavor from the ground up?

To be honest it has not been easy at all. I sent the project to all my big major label people and they all listened to it and they all got back with the same reply: “We really like it, but we don’t know who the audience is.” This has been a problem with big labels we have experienced. They only want something that sounds like something that’s already out there and big, not something original.

Just a few weeks ago, you released “Hostage,” which is completely hypnotic and has a fantastic groove to it. Can you tell me a little about how that song came to be? What was the inspiration behind its theme and lyrics?

Thank you. We were undecided for a while on which direction to take this song. It was between house and electronic. After developing the darker electronic sound we felt it was a better fit for the mood and style of the vocals. Inspiration always comes from the music itself. In this case it was the synths. They just grabbed me [Shanti] and then out came the lyrics. The words and theme are just kind of like photos that come to mind to the sound.

You also have a remix paired with the single. How did Brad Holland and Princeton Rejects get involved to take the track and rework it?

Princeton Rejects is another thing Ian is doing in the deep house area, and we felt this record could benefit from a mix in this direction. It came out well…

Not too long ago, you remixed one of The Strokes’ more recent tracks. Do you plan to dabble in reworks like that more often within this project?

We like the concept of doing covers, but only when they add something to the song. Just redoing a song American Idol style is kind of pointless, but if we see the chance to reinterpret a song into something new and exciting.

A lot of artists and producers I’ve talked with in recent months tend to touch on an over-saturation of similar artists within the realm of EDM and that it’s become almost too homogeneous. Is this something you’ve noticed as well? What are your thoughts on that?

This topic can go on for hours, but to sum it up, yes. There is so much of the same thing over and over and what we said earlier about the big labels only wanting the same things does not help either. We have to work to get listeners to demand originality and not just accept the same things over and over again.

And in that sense, what do you feel AM bring to the table that helps you stand out and gain traction within that sea of similarity?

We try to make pure music pulling from a wide array of influences and years of experience. We want our music to come across sincere and not try to be something other than what it is.

What can we expect from you guys for the remainder of the year? Any new material in the works for AM? Any other project you two might be working on?

We have a new single coming and we are constantly writing new material. There is a lot to come in the future!

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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