By Catalina Briceno
CALGARY – San Francisco-based DJ duo Ben “Swardy” Swardlick and Eric Luttrell make up the prolific act The M Machine. After six years as a group and multiple recordings and famous remixes, the act is bending and pushing creative boundaries with their first full-length, Glare.
Although former group member Andy Coenen is no longer with the project, traces of his work are peppered throughout the album.
“We also collaborate vocally a lot. Andy, Eric, and Ben are all over all [of] the songs. Andy sung in quite a few of them,” clarifies Swardy.
In the early days of The M Machine, Swardy says they felt the pressure to play crowd pleasers when touring with big names. He references Shambhala Music Festival as a turning point for the group: their chance to go beyond industry expectations and instead produce more melodic, vocally driven indie songs.
The M Machine first played the festival in 2014 and got booked again in 2015.
“The first time we went it was a very freeing experience, to try to go up there and just vibe with the crowd and figure it out,” reveals Swardy.
“We got such a positive response from that and it really changed things for us and I’m not just talking about this because of Shambhala or the pre-party and stuff. That really was a significant moment for us.”
Just as Shambhala celebrates the notion of community, as does The M Machine. The project decided to release their album in late February through a mobile web application called glare.fm, where fans can share songs through face-to-face conversation.
Previous member Coenen is the mastermind behind the app, guiding the design and look. Using geolocation to bring listeners together, it requires interaction and participation from users to unlock music.
“That’s the kind of project we’ve been doing with Andy forever. He was the builder, the designer, and the programmer. Even though he’s stopped touring, it’s been nice to have that ongoing project with him. We love getting to work with him, so it’s been nice for us,” says Swardy.
The group also released their album via Mat Zo’s label, Mad Zoo. Mat Zo and The M Machine are no strangers: back in 2012 the two worked alongside Porter Robinson on the Language Tour. The 32 day tour is the subject of a mini documentary available online.
As for a follow up, Swardy and Luttrell are already back in the studio writing new material. According to Swardy, The M Machine’s upcoming release will sonically take yet another direction.
“I know that’s been kind of the theme for us, but I no longer feel like I need to apologize for that. I think we’ve definitely made it pretty clear at this point. It’s gonna be different every time,” offers Swardy.
“I think for some innovative projects as well, it just means that hopefully some more longevity there, and you know that you’re fans are yours and they’re not the fans of some sound or genre.”
Aside from The M Machine, Swardy and Luttrell have solo projects that steer away from cinematic orchestration and indie dance songs, focusing instead on house and techno.
Luttrell has released his own work under Anjunadeep, Above & Beyond’s deep house label. The project can be heard on SoundCloud.
Swardy divulged for the first time in an interview that he will also soon be releasing his own individual release, via the label Teapot.
“I haven’t really told anyone that yet, but I suppose there’s no time like the present. Most likely the first thing that would come out would actually be a remix of a Luttrell song,” he concludes.
The M Machine will headline the Calgary Pagoda Stage Pre Party on June 10 at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 1 (Calgary).Calgary Pagoda Stage Pre Party, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 1, The M Machine