Machineri - Machineri (CD)

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The unconventional route Machineri took to recording their debut album suits singer Sannie Fox. The band Fox formed in 2008 with fellow guitarist Andre Geldenhuys only began playing live last spring. By then, their seductive, blues-infused rock had found a following online via striking videos for two of their songs. At the start of this year, Machineri landed a record deal without sending out a single demo. “It has been a strange journey so far,” laughs Fox. “But then we’re quite a strange band. Our music is influenced by everything from John Lee Hooker and Led Zeppelin to Malian blues and Portuguese folk. We feel like a band at the fringes of several scenes, rather than one at the centre of any.” The blonde, beautiful Fox boasts as intriguing a background as her songs. Born in London, but living in Cape Town since the age of 11, her father is South African film director Revel Fox, her mother Portuguese actress and singer Roberta Fox. She has an honours degree in theatre and performance and has appeared both on stage and on screen, most recently in 2009’s acclaimed feature film Long Street. She has worked as a model, but can engineer her own records – she produced Machineri’s first video as a homework project for a sound engineering course. Turned on to the blues by her parents’ love of John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Aretha Franklin, Fox grew up playing piano and started singing aged 15. It was when she took up guitar in her late teens, however, that she found an instrument suited to her blues-style song writing. Her first band was a female trio with a violinist; her second a five-piece that fused reggae, rock, folk and blues. Fox was still in a band – and about to graduate from university – when she teamed up with Geldenhuys for what was supposed to be a side project. Geldenhuys had been travelling in Europe and, on his return to Cape Town, moved in with a friend three doors down from Fox. “Andre and I had heard of each other, but only met when I found him outside my house one day, playing with my cat,” recalls Fox. “Andre had just bought a new Strat and, knowing that I had a Strat, and could sing, invited me to his house to jam. He just said, “Wanna come see my new Strat?”. As it happened, I was looking for a new guitarist to jam with. I had written some songs that were tougher, more stripped-down and bluesy than suited my band at the time. “We clicked instantly. Our styles of playing and my style of singing slotted perfectly together. Musically, we were on the same wavelength – we’re both mad for Led Zep and John Frusciante, but we also love Paganini and Chopin.” One of the songs the pair jammed that day was The Searchers. Within six months, The Searchers was on YouTube with a fantastic video filmed in a forge. Moreover, the song set the style for Machineri’s music. Duelling guitars, Arabic-like rhythms and a Celtic folk feel made the song sound simultaneously modern and steeped in the past. The lack of bass gave it space. Tumbling alluringly over the top were Fox’s husky, smoky vocals – part Marianne Faithfull, part Patti Smith, but with shades of The Cocteau Twin’s Liz Fraser and a bit of Kate Bush. “I love blues, but I’m not interested in playing 12 bar blues everyone has heard before,” says Fox. “To me, modern music is an amalgamation of influences and we borrow blues from everywhere. I love Malian blues because it uses an Arabic scale, but I also love Celtic music and American blues-rock. I listen to a lot of old Portuguese folk music. I can tie all those influences together, but our songs still sound simple and stripped-back because we use so few instruments.” There are drums, of course, although you won’t see a drummer in The Searchers video. The reason Machineri didn’t play live for two years was because they struggled to find a drummer who suited their sound. “The drummer was the break in the chain,” says Fox. “Because we don’t have a bassist, we required a really good drummer. We went through six before we found Daniel.” A fan of everything from heavy metal to jazz and another Led Zeppelin lover, Daniel Huxham became Machineri’s permanent drummer at the start of 2010. By March, the trio were playing their first shows in Cape Town bars and clubs and have clocked up over 100 performances since. The gigs they booked themselves; the posters they made at home and stuck up around town with Pritt stick. At the start of this year, Machineri’s plan was to record and self-release an EP. Unexpectedly, they were offered a record deal by Jo’burg-based label Just Music. “We didn’t have many proper recordings, so we hadn’t begun to look for a label,” says Fox. “Just Music saw our videos on YouTube and offered us a deal. It was perfect timing.” In April 2011, Machineri recorded their debut album, (title?) with (producer?) Paris Zannos in Cape Town’s Red Bull studios. Each song distils a dozen influences - from the obvious nods to Patti Smith and Janis Joplin to famed Portuguese singer Amalia Rodrigues and the late, great Busi Mhlongo. On the broody Spider Suitcase, Fox recalls a raw PJ Harvey. On the spritely Bad Machine, with its hip-shaking groove and insistent guitars, she sounds at once tough and tender. The Eastern blues-infused Machine I Am – an early track for which the band made their second video – sees Fox at her sultriest on spell-casting verses and an hypnotic chorus. Lyrically, Fox borrows as much from literature and poetry as real life and politics. “I spend a lot of time on the lyrics and I’m very careful with words,” says Fox. “This album deals mostly with feelings of anger, frustration and betrayal. I’ve been inspired by reading about corruption in governments, but a song about betrayal can refer as easily to a relationship break-up as politics. I prefer to sum up emotions with my lyrics, rather than make it obvious what they’re about. The lyrics are about whatever they mean to the listener. “If I was a millionaire living on a desert island, my lyrics would probably be happier. You never know, I might sound happy on the next record. We’ll make Machineri’s seaside album!”

Copy Control
Number of Items
Media Type
  1. [ Disc 01 Track 01 ] Soul People
  2. [ Disc 01 Track 02 ] Stranger On The Water
  3. [ Disc 01 Track 03 ] Searchers
  4. [ Disc 01 Track 04 ] Spider Suitcase
  5. [ Disc 01 Track 05 ] Machine I Am
  6. [ Disc 01 Track 06 ] Ladder Operator
  7. [ Disc 01 Track 07 ] Blood On Our Hands
  8. [ Disc 01 Track 08 ] Big Bad Machine
  9. [ Disc 01 Track 09 ] Lovers Whim
  10. [ Disc 01 Track 10 ] Cold Sister
  11. [ Disc 01 Track 11 ] Father Gun
Pop / Rock
Release Date
29 July 2011
South Africa
Audio Format
PCM Audio
Studio / Live
Video Disabled
  1. Machineri
Date Released
2011-07-01 00:00:00
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