INTERVIEW: Fax Machine | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The North East is quietly producing a sub-genre of unseemly twists on tried and tested musical genres, with often conceptual or downright daft tendencies from the likes of Pigs x7, OK Champ and Shy-Talk. A natural extension of this aesthete comes in the form of Fax Machine, AKA David Turnbull and producer Will Thorneycroft, who craft cartoon-like, off-kilter art pop which sounds like a broken Field Music.

Together with John Edgar (The Dawdler/OK Champ), they formed Treetrunk Records. “We decided early on to just start a label so that we didn’t have to think about trying to get someone to put out whatever we happen to be making.” David says, and he then set about collating an abundance of his own demos. “Fax Machine was just a name I gave to anything I recorded at home that was not associated with any of the other bands I played with. I started to think about how to get them to sit together on a record and it not sound too incoherent, but ideally a little incoherent! It was Will, who mixed the Okay Champ record in 2018, who was a huge catalyst for Fax Machine – after I played him a few ideas we decided to make what became Soup.”

I always had this idea to have an album starting in a place that is almost comical and goofy and moving gradually to another that is dark or sad

Album Soup is oft built on psych/folk influences (Garden Knomes is reminiscent of Beach Boys’ Vegetables) but centrepiece Mintra exists as if in a cavernous dream and exposes the band’s lo-fi maximalist leanings. “I think the lo-fi element in part is due to us making the decision early on to leave mistakes in there and sometimes the mistakes actually become a big part of the song. Mintra is actually one of my favourites on there for that very reason. It’s just the same musical idea and same lyrics over and over but it has a really unstable, obtrusive feel and I think those noises and scrapes are the main reason.”

The musical themes are quite abstract and avant-garde, as are David’s influences. “I had been listening to lots of Carla dal Forno, Dean Blunt, Arthur Russell, Housewives and Anika. There is an album called Model Express by Cindy Lee which I became fairly obsessed with too. I just wanted to throw all of the things I liked into the mix and see what the songs turn out like. I always had this idea to have an album starting in a place that is almost comical and goofy and moving gradually to another that is dark or sad so it descends and goes through some kind of metamorphosis which I think we did achieve on some level. Somewhere in that process I suppose your influences find their way in.”

And Soup is not just an album project, fans of recent single Eddie Morphy will be pleased to hear. “I’m looking forward to getting the live thing up and running but it’s unlikely we will try to replicate the sound of the record. I would rather just see what works in a room and what doesn’t and hopefully find something new in the songs themselves. It’s a different thing entirely doing it in reverse with the record out first. We will definitely be booking some shows soon though and should have the second album ready later this year.”

Fax Machine release Soup via Treetrunk Records on 5th July.

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