Interview: Machine Age on finding his sound on new single “Fighting”

The first time I saw Machine Age, a.k.a. Adrian Mauro, was in 2015 when he supported Youth Group. Mauro was alone on stage, creating loops and sounds with his guitar and a bevy samplers and synths, including a memorable cover of “Pony” by Ginuwine, a memory that makes him laugh.

“I used to throw it in my set from time to time just to mix things up,” he says. “But then a whole bunch of people started covering that song, so I decided not to do that anymore.”

Since starting Machine Age in 2013, Mauro has released singles mixing rock and electronics at a slow pace. Now, after much tinkering, he has found a new sound and is ready for it to be heard when he releases his upcoming debut EP, featuring the lead single “Fighting”.

“I’ve been reluctant to put out more work until I got my sound right,” he says. “With the addition of my drummer Dylan Stewart in January last year, I finally feel like I’ve got all the colours in my palette that I wanted.”

Stewart’s contributions can be heard on “Fighting”, a song with a sky-reaching chorus that magically came to Mauro. “I was trying to finish off a bunch of songs for the EP and I had a few days to borrow some extra gear from some friends. I set up all these different synthesisers and stuff in a room and try and finish off these songs. After plugging them all in, I got all excited creating different sounds, and that was inspiring so I started writing a new song.”

Previous singles “Don’t Look” and “Chivalry” were delightful pieces of glitching electronics, sounding understated and introverted. With “Fighting”, the coupling of Stewart’s hard-hitting beats and Mauro’s musicianship has led to a massive advancement in Machine Age’s sound. Along with Stewart, Mauro also thanks Perth electronic duo Slumberjack with helping bring the sounds in his head to life.

“I’m a big fan of electronic music, so I wanted to get that big sub-bass that you can get out of modern electronics. I hit a point where I didn’t know how to get that. Luckily I’ve become friends with the guys out of Slumberjack. [Slumberjack-member Morgan Then] was really helpful with wrangling it.”

Collaborating has been a big part of Mauro’s career. Outside of Machine Age, he plays guitar for Brisbane-based indie-pop songwriter BANFF and also assisted Big Scary with the recording of their acclaimed albums Vacation and Not Art. “As much as the DIY thing comes naturally, I think I do like working with other people,” he says. It was his work with likeminded musicians that helped inspire him to start Machine Age.

“I’ve kind of have always been involved in the production side of music and playing guitar in a few other things, but I neglected doing my own stuff. That was part of the catalyst of trying to find my own thing and start doing the things that I’ve wanted to do. It’s one of those things when you always end up collaborating on other people’s projects: as much as you get attached to each project, they’re never really yours. Once I started finding that I wanted to make music I’ve always wanted to make, which is a mixture of all the different things that I loved, it was the start of something and went from there.”

Machine Age will be headlining a tour across the east coast in support of “Fighting”. Along with new songs, the tour will also showcase the new, powerful sound of the duo; an exciting prospect for Mauro.

“I did enjoy early on doing the one-man-band thing with my samplers and loop pedals and stuff, but I did get bored of it after a while; it got a bit too self-indulgent for me. It’s great now playing as a two-piece to have another person to bounce energy off, and also having a live drummer on the stage brings so much more dynamics to the show because you’re not always relying on the PA system that you’re playing out of.”

Mauro is looking forward to the future of Machine Age. After spending so long developing the project, he now wants to waste little time and release more music as soon as he possible.

“I’m looking forward to getting more material out because whenever I just do one song at a time I get someone going, ‘Oh, this is a new direction,’ whereas to me it feels like a better enhanced thing. Now that I’ve been getting the right sound of what I want to do, I decided to pick the five strongest songs and put our best foot forward into the world. Hopefully there’ll be enough variation of songs, too, so that people can expect a bunch of different things from us – some quieter moments and some rockier moments. We’re just trying to put that story out that we’re not just a one-trick pony.”

‘FIGHTING’ is out now. Follow Machine Age online here.

MACHINE AGE TOUR DATES 2018

March 2nd | The Milk Factory, BRISBANE (with Beneb)
March 9th | Penny Black, MELBOURNE (with Albert Salt)
March 10th | Frankie’s, SYDNEY (with Bones Atlas)