Derbyshire based artist James Machin, better known as Grawl!x creates dream-pop music likened to that of Animal Collective or Panda Bear.
And associating with heavyweight names as those comes with it’s expectations. However Aye! (which releases May 28th) and features vocals and instrumentation by Haiku Salut, doesn’t fall far from these comparisons.
Standout tracks like Pando, Destination and Gumtion showcase the warm radiance, sonic depth, and overall effervescence of an album recorded over months of disjointed sessions in various bedrooms and spaces. James’ underlying themes may tackle rather heavy subjects of grief, passing of life and spiritual divides, but the end product is something much lighter and optmisitic than that – highlighting Machin’s inner contradicitions.
In the run up to the release of Aye! we have been provided with an exclusive premiere of Dearth, taken from Aye!. We also took some time to talk with James to find out more about his release.
This album had been recorded over months in various spaces. What made you decide to go for that DIY approach?
Hello! A combination of necessity & fun-times. Obviously these days one doesn’t have to be in a studio to make a decent sounding record. (Although most of it was done at Snug; a fine establishment incidentally). Sessions tended to be a tad sporadic & if there were occasions of getting an idea together, I just did that elsewhere & popped it in the studio when we were next in. It felt quite emancipating I don’t mind telling you.
Aye! (is the second album in a trilogy) exploring the final stage of the Kubler-model of grief – acceptance. Are you able to offer an insight into what made you decide to choose this theme?
My first record was called ‘Good Grief’ so at the time of writing that, I started to do a little reading on the subject & found it difficult to avoid the rather influential concept of the Kubler Ross model when dealing with the overall subject matter of generalised bereavement. (Especially if you watch a lot of sitcoms.) Once I realised the songs on the new record fit the pattern of acceptance; seemed like a good idea to continue to its logical conclusion.
Through making this album, how has it influenced your ability to accept certain truths?
Well I find it’s hard to know whether one learns anything really. Though I suppose addressing that, accepting things is not such a bad thing via making a record it can’t help but influence you to a degree.
You also have this connection with the Church. Was the Church a symbol for the type of grief you may have been dealing with?
Not particularly. As it happens, I’m an atheist so I don’t tend to associate Churches with that kind of emotionality, though of course I am aware of those connotations. Churches for me are more places of architectural beauty to be appreciated & where one can sit & have a ponder. Just perfect settings for music I find. Particularly music that doesn’t suffer from being suffocated in reverb!
What has been your favourite church to play in?
Tough choice. Union Chapel has one of the most imposing circular stained windows I’ve ever seen. The sound was great too. Though, for personal reasons Breedon-on-the-Hill is probably my favourite.
On rather heavy themes, you ended up creating something rather playful, warm and light. What was your intention in doing this?
I’m afraid it was a bit. Originally, I’d intended it to be a much more upbeat affair & then almost without releasing it, I found myself with all these slightly foreboding lyrical themes. This thankfully fit very well in the theme I was going for of being very outgoing & extrovert while ones inner monologue is in a deep spiral of unhealthy thinking.
What is next for you?
Next is to pop the album out on 28th May, hopefully followed by a short tour & then it’s onto our next record. More to follow. Thank you! xxxxxx