If being tweeted about by Chloë Grace Moretz wasn't enough, breaking into the top 10 spot on Spotify's Viral 50 chart and rising to the #1 spot on Hype Machine would definitely be a dream come true for any relatively unknown band. But for LA based indie-pop quintet machineheart, those dreams are realities that seem effortlessly obtained. The band, consisting of Stevie Scott (vocals), Trevor Kelly (acoustic guitar), Harrison Allen (drums), Carman Kubanda (electric guitar), and Jake Randle (bass), got their start when Stevie met her four male counterparts (who had already been playing together for some time) through mutual friends three years ago. They quickly discovered similarities in their musical inspirations, having all grown up to 90's jams from the likes of The Cranberries, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. After that, all it took was writing a handful of songs together, and machineheart was born.
"Our whole story has been pretty organic, like beyond the norm for most people. We do like to be strategic & intentional but we also leave a lot of room for magic to happen in the spontaneous, unplanned moments. Those are the best. And that was the same with the EP. I think we decided like a week before to just go ahead & release it," Stevie says, when asked if they had a blueprint going into the writing of their debut EP.
It was the single from their 4-song EP, "Circles - ft. Vanic" that gained them the #1 spot on Hype Machine and a lot of sudden attention in the music blogosphere. The electropop tune features catchy rhythms, an upbeat melody and strong female vocals (think Marina and the Diamonds, meets Ellie Goulding, meets something entirely their own). But Stevie confides that the lyrics come from a surprisingly more emotional place. "When we wrote the song, we were feeling tangled and stuck in a standstill. It was one of the last songs we wrote when we were working on our album and we couldn't force things to move any faster. We just had to wait and hope that things would unfold. It's hard in those moments to remember what you're doing and why. So the song was kind of a pep talk to ourselves to keep going, even if we didn't know exactly where that was."
It's a message that may be hard to pick up in the carefree feel of their single, but one that is immediately visible in their brand new, stripped down version of "Circles", premiering exclusively in Rogue online. In this version, the haunting facets of Stevie's voice shine, and machineheart's raw, introspective lyrics take center stage. The accompanying music video has been stripped down as well, void of the bells and whistles of the original, and replaced with simple black and white imagery of Stevie and Trevor performing in a barren industrial loft.
Just starting their Fall U.S. tour with Smallpools and Phoebe Ryan, the band is poised to cement their position in the indie pop world, and excited to be able to connect with their rapidly growing fan base. "I think it's always surreal to see people connecting with your music the same way you connected with your own musical heroes. Writing and recording the music feels like such a one-way conversation – in the studio just talking to yourself and making something that feels honest to that and then you take the songs to shows & open that monologue up to become a dialogue and there's new magic all over again. What looked like a simple, sterile number on Spotify or YouTube becomes a living, breathing fan who connected with the music and found something that resonated with them. It's incredible," says Stevie of the recognition they've garnered.
Unlike many millennial pop bands, however, machineheart's rise has kept them humble, and they don't seem likely to sell-out anytime soon to quicken their progression to fame. "You really have to be grounded enough to know who you are before you start wandering off your own beaten path. And that's the beautiful thing about creating art; there are no limits or boundaries & once you really know who you are, I think you can explore those fringes & new landscapes & still maintain you. We're excited to release our full-length next year because that was definitely an exploration for us. There is so much dynamic & depth you get to show on a full length. EPs feel like a little flight sampler rather than the full bottle. We'll be excited to share a bigger, fuller picture of machineheart," Stevie says in closing.
After what I've seen of their talents and refreshing perspective, I'm more than a little excited to see what they have in store for us.