Movement Machina

Movement Machina Makes Music That Tells the Truth with Analog Politics

Lauren Krieger

Movement Machina’s “Analog Politics” brings together contradictory yet complementary creative forces that challenge the expectation of what an electronic music album can be. With its title reflecting the “juxtaposition between the integrity and warmth of the ‘analogue’ world with the superficiality and scheming coldness of ‘politics’”, Movement Machina’s debut album combines worlds to create deep connections. Whether that means taking elements from the past and bringing them into the future or moving seamlessly between analog and digital realms, the result is a well-rounded representation of thoughtful, meaningful, emotional electronic music.

Movement Machina in Amsterdam
Photo by Sharpozz

Inspired by the simplicity and captivating grooves of early 2000’s house / trance / techno and with a dedication to composing with only hardware synths, the music of “Analog Politics” stands apart from the everyday release by capturing the timeless essence of what Movement Machina accurately refers to as “Cool Dance Music”. Designing each note himself – from the drum sounds to the effects and even vocals – each element of the album has his unique imprint, a representation of his artistic soul and vision. This was something that was essential for Movement Machina to accomplish, not only to showcase his full scope as a musician but as a way to break the barriers of his own self-perceived capabilities. By pushing the boundaries he proved to himself (and listeners) that not only is it possible to dedicate daily to musical creation with a purpose but to be able to produce a complete album using only one’s own talent and creativity.

“I like to keep my music 100% self-made. What I mean by this, I don’t use third-party sample packs, unless I absolutely have to. In the ideal case, I like to design all drum sounds, effects, synths, and basses myself. I’m not a singer either, but I will sing into the microphone to get some kind of vocal going. I try to break the barriers of my own capabilities. I take pride in doing everything myself. It’s the hard way, but it’s the road to take if you want to learn all of these aspects, such as sound design, playing instruments, etc.”

With all this work done from scratch and with serious time spent in his studio, the finishing touches could only be left in the most capable hands. Taking a lead role in all aspects of the album’s development, Movement Machina turned to Mastering Engineer Daniel Hagström at Finland’s renowned Finnvox Mastering Studio for the final polish and to Mango Alley to release it to the world.

“I like the fact that Mango Alley cares about the music, artists and the output of the label. I mean, to me, family is everything in music. I’m not a businessman. Humanity comes first and this is where Mango Alley excels. We even chat daily with label owner and A&R, Alex, from Mango Alley. Plus those beers in Amsterdam were good last October, cheers Alex!

Of course I will (and have) release music on other labels as well, but I will always feel like part of the Mango Alley family. I appreciate the enthusiasm from the label’s side, plus work gets done quick. I think this album found a good, caring home at Mango Alley.”

Pre-orders for “Analog Politics” began on February 24th, with the official release date of March 5th. On Tuesday Febuary 25th at 2 PM EST [convert timezone] Movement Machina will also be providing an exclusive mix as FRISKY’s Artist of the Week, with the first hour featuring a playthrough of the album and the second hour following with a mix of personal and favorite tracks taking you on a trip to the “Club Zone”. You can tune in live to be one of the first to hear it, or catch up anytime on-demand with FRISKY Premium.

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In preparation for the premiere, I caught up with Movement Machina to go deeper into the details of his inspiration, vision, and mission in music.

Movement Machina Portrait
Photo by Sharpozz

Congratulations on the release of your debut album! How does it feel now that the date is almost here?

Thank you, I appreciate it! It feels kind of unreal. I’ve worked so closely on the process during this entire time so it’s going to be interesting to release it to the wilds. I hope people can enjoy it. I’m confident about it, at least.

I’d love to hear about the background of this project – when did the idea first come to you, and what were some of the motivating factors that inspired you to begin?

I had been thinking of making an album for years, but never really got to it because it felt impossible to make at the time. Some of my friends had already made quite a few albums themselves, so that was definitely an inspiring factor. As an artist, I think albums are so cool and truly showcase what you are capable of. I’ve always respected artists who are releasing albums, because that takes a lot of work and heart. It feels nice to belong to the “album club”.

In order to take the leap, I needed to have a vision for the album. “Cool dance music” was the key. I was initially inspired by the simplicity of some older techno/house/trance stuff from the early 2000s and thought to myself “maybe I could make something like that”. If you’ve played the video game Grand Theft Auto 3, you’ll know there is a radio station called RISE FM – and that played a big part as far as inspiration goes, because that kind of sound is my childhood, pretty much! Though I had to take the BPM down quite a bit, haha.

As far as the form and flow of an album, I was listening to some classic 90s rock albums where there were no gaps between the tracks. If possible, I wanted to make some gapless transfers between tracks myself, which I succeeded in doing during certain transitions (such as Knight – Versus). This is usually done in mastering but I had to plan the musical flow of the album from the get-go.

The songwriting process began in December 2018. I had all the musical ideas done by late February 2019 so the actual writing was done in about three months. Writing things quickly was essential because only in this way I could capture that “magnifying glass” -kind of moment into the zone I was in during that time. The actual production took a lot of time during the following months, though.

Analog Politics Cover Image

What has the production process been like for you? Was there anything that surprised you along the way?

The production process lasted until August 2019. In total, the album was produced within an 9-month period since its inception in December 2018, all the way to finishing final mixes in August 2019. I had to systematically polish each production, so I wouldn’t lose track of the process. Every song title was written on my whiteboard and I started from the top – it’s like going to work, very engineer-like.

I like to split making music into three parts: songwriting, production and mixing. So all the songwriting was done at this point and it was time to perfect the productions of each track. Naturally, surprises occur all the time because I have to think about adding elements to the tracks to make them sound fuller, so some tracks’ characters could totally change. But I like that element of surprise.

The production process took most of my time. When the productions were nice and polished it was time to mix everything to sound great. Mixing is easily the most technically demanding process, which boils down to experience and taste.

I had in mind to create some kind of interlude pieces between all of the dance tracks. This wasn’t an easy task, but then I decided to use some elements from some of my previous releases (‘Plaza’, ‘Medieval’ and ‘Vega’) to create all-new experimental versions of these tracks. They bind the whole album nicely together and kind of space out all the different parts of the album.

How did the creation of the album challenge and/or change you as an artist?

Movement Machina DJing in front of crowd
Photo by Karo Holmberg

When making original music, you’ll always start from a blank slate. In an album form, the blank slate is gigantic. That was the challenge, but the key was the vision and the trust to chase something worthwhile. It was necessary to cave in for a few months and just write music daily, this is how I could get the gems that ended up on the album – plus you’ll need enough material to choose from. I am definitely a changed person after finishing the album because now I know it is possible to make one. All I had to do was overcome myself, my doubts and just put in the work and trust the process. I will definitely make more albums in the future, when time comes.

How do you think this album represents Movement Machina as an artist, and as a person?

Movement Machina will always release tastefully done dance music. This album captures a moment in an artist’s life. I value freedom of expression and not being afraid to show the world “what you’ve been cooking”. This album is just a little window to a small period in time in an artist’s mind. This is what came out, and now I will put it out. I think as an artist, I will always make music that I feel inspired about in the moment. Surely, as time goes on, musical tastes change and we grow as people as well. This album acts like the firm roots for Movement Machina – it’s good to go from here.

When it came to the complete package, what was important for your album to include or feature?

Well, it was important to include all the tracks that I thought were necessary for my vision – and in the end everything I wanted was included in the tracklist, after some friendly negotiations with the record label. I also hold the “do-it-yourself” -mentality in high regard. I’m proud that all 13 tracks are 100% made by myself. In this case, I wouldn’t trust a mastering engineer over the internet to touch months of my hard work, so one of my best friends did the mastering, and that would be Mr. Daniel Hagström at the legendary Finnvox Studios, here in Helsinki, Finland. I attended the session and acted as the creative director for the sound – and got what I wanted after a hard day’s work. It was very important to get the final polish and feel secure about having someone that actually cares about you touch your music.

Quotes from Mastering Engineer Daniel Hagström:

What was the mastering chain and the mastering process?

The mastering chain for Analog Politics was actually fairly simple since JP’s mixes were already excellent. On most of the tracks we ended up doing some enhancing m/s eq in the digital domain, followed up by some broader tone sculpting with analog EQs. The final loudness was achieved using some tasteful high quality converter clipping, transient designing and limiting.

What kind of things do you usually master and how did this project differ from them?  

I master all kinds of music here at Finnvox Studios, from major label artists to indie rap and jazz, and actually I find it amusing that this project most resembles some jazz album sessions. With those the sound is typically already pretty well thought out by the mixing engineer and in mastering we give a lot of attention to the feel of the album as a whole and fine tune track gaps and crossfades to the millisecond! These days most of the material coming in to be mastered are single releases going for streaming and radio play, so the mindset on those is a bit different. 

What is your philosophy when mastering?

My philosophy in mastering is that the philosophy should be able to change to suit the material at hand. The goal is to create one great master that works well on all platforms, and while “less, but right things, is more” approach usually works best, you must not be afraid to push things to get there when necessary!

I love that you worked with hardware synths for the creation of this album – can you share your experience going from software to hardware and why you decided to do so?

I love hardware, because they feel like real instruments to me. I mean, I had been making music for 10 years already without any hardware. I decided to get my first synth in 2015, and that is the Waldorf Pulse 2 desktop module, which is a mean little beast. I’m just trying to minimize looking at the screen when I make music and hardware allows me to do that. I mean, when you are playing the piano or guitar, you’re not going to be staring at plugins, right? Plus, hardware synths sound so authentic and all kinds of happy accidents occur, because you approach them differently than soft synths. And they have knobs! Hardware also forces your brain to think differently, because you need to learn how to program each synth.

The only soft synth/sampler I use nowadays is Reaktor for its digital processing not available on my hardware devices. I might also pull a rhodes or some strings from Kontakt because, well, obvious reasons.

What is most important for you to communicate through your music?

The truth. Feelings, desires, lust. Love. High bursts of energy. I think artists need to stand behind their music – and it can definitely be heard if the music is truthful. I think one can hear the truth in these 13 tracks.

What do you see as the future for Movement Machina?

Who knows, really. All I know is that I’m happy in the moment, trying to finish yet another batch of music. And then onto the next one, you know? Right now I feel like making music for the club and wish to get opportunities for DJ gigs to play out my music to the dancefloors – there really isn’t anything better than a dark, intimate club with a great soundsystem.

In the end, all I can hope for, as an artist, is to get my music heard and hopefully make someone’s day or life better. As for myself, I want to keep that childlike mentality for music and just have fun doing it – that’s why I started making music, after all.

Pre-Order Analog Politics now & listen to the exclusive album mix on FRISKY’s Artist of the Week: