Bloodmachine is the latest project from Isaac Klawansky and Clifford Viljoen. I snuck a listen (Ok, I begged them for a copy) to their synth heavy album Wide Open Skies and was staggered. The production, the dance strong beats, and crystal vocals. Bloodmachine are the future of production, creating relentlessly regardless of where in the world the two musicians live
Q+∆ below image:
1: Apologies for the question but I can’t help it. The name is there a story behind it?
IK: The name comes from the title of one our tunes. It's got some of my favourite lyrics on the album..."does your blood machine work? what state is it in? does your blood machine work? can you feel it beating?..."
CV: Bloodmachine was on the money. Contrary to what’s normally associated with blood vibes…death, darkness, and destruction…without the stuff running through your veins, life is of min. Blood is life. The heart pumps it. Bloodmachine.
2: To my mind I hear a lot of 80’s references in your music. (Depeche, The Cure, The Presets – I’m aware they’re current) Was this an intentional decision to move into a style of music that is welcoming to Radio’s dance pop sensibilities, or did your musical journey just take you there?
IK: There's a certain pop sensibility in our writing and producing, but what you hear is really just 2 okes making the kind of beats that we love. The beats that get us pumped and have us jumping around our living rooms alone at 1am while furiously sending whatsapp messages back and forth.
CV: The references you mention are on point…I speak for myself, but it would be a blatant lie to say that the musical journey, and most certainly not sans life, but life with the soundtrack of my musical journey has brought me here…sound wise.
3: How have your past musical endeavors affected this new project?
IK: I feel like it's just focused me even more. It's all about refining an actual sound and style, until its as close to what I'm visualising in my mind, as possible. When that is achieved then perhaps my musical journey changes direction... who knows. I've also realised that I'm relaxed and happy to keep this project independent, so that Cliff and I have complete control over what we put out
CV: Trial and error, sometimes just trial and abort even before error comes about, often just flat out error…finally, finally, through these escapades something was deposited in the bloodmachine that’s got me doing me, more, and better, than I have done before.
4: Who does what musically within the band? My assumptions would be that Isaac is responsible for the beats, but the music has such rich textures that I imagine you share the roles?
IK: Our main roles so far have been Cliff on vocals and guitar, and myself on beats, synths and production. The 2 of us currently work from different parts of the country, so its exciting to imagine what the creative process might be like when we're in the same studio space together.
CV: Let it be known that Isaac himself is a rich texture as it is. The oke is a magician on the beat. Some of the tunes you’ll be surprised are birthed from an acoustic take on my side (guitar and vocals), which possibly will be released at a later stage, and from that Isaac does his thing. Incredible, really, the way he does it.
5: Except for some of the kwaito elements the sound is global. Do you guys intend to market yourselves internationally? If so, how?
IK: Yes, we've started slowly by giving our first single out to overseas blogs to review. We'll start submitting to radio and internet stations abroad. But ultimately the best way to market ourselves is to pack our bags and start performing on international stages. Start in the small underground clubs and see where that leads us. I'm a firm believer that every gig brings with it another opportunity.
CV: We do intend to, (but) I’m not going to act like I have any idea how the industry works. It all seems a little “iffy” to me at times. But yes, we’re in the process of seeding abroad…playlists, radio, labels etc. but for the most part trusting that each step will get us closer to that goal you asked us about earlier, and that that would expand our listeners abroad. Also quite romantic, I suppose, but let’s be romantic.
6: I think that the old idea of“I do it because I love it and money doesn’t matter ” is antiquated, people earn a living from what they love. I assume you want to do the same. What is your strategy for exposing your music as well as earning from it?
IK: The thing about creativity and the creative process is that when you're in the groove or the zone or the whatever you want to call it and ideas are flowing and time is flying by, the last thing you're thinking about is money. Once that part of the process is over and you're sitting with a product or a piece or an album, that's when you can start to make that product work for you. But the product has got to be solid. That's what we're constantly trying to achieve. Our strategy at this point is quite simple... Make rad music. Sell the albums/EP's. Gig the shit out of the world. Because in the beginning thats where the money is.
CV: I always knew I was pretty old fashioned. Not to say that it wouldn’t help, though. Truth is, the tunes won’t stop being made if the bucks don’t come in. As far exposing goes, we’ve just released our debut album ‘wide open skies’ in as many online music stores that we could get it in. Also, Bloodmachine, come end of month, will be on the road performing which will hopefully generate some interest and earnings in itself. I’m not particularly convinced the loot is going to come from album sales here in South Africa, unless something miraculous happens. But let’s see. I’ve seen a few happen.
7: Whats your view of the 90% local music on SABC?
IK: I think it's fantastic. I'm hoping it will lead to greater diversity on the airwaves and not just more of the same stuff that's already on there. Unearthing some serious underground talent. Increasing the level of song writing and music production and performance. Educating a mass audience as to what’s really going in the different scenes. Artists earning more money. Finding intelligent ideas to talk about on radio in order to fill up some airtime.
CV: I reckon we, the country and the rest of the world would be able to access with ease the ridiculous (talent) that we have to offer without having to be knitted deep into whatever scene it is that you’re into and others. This pass will make knowledge less exclusive and far more accessible I reckon, which is a good thing as far as being a listener goes. Hopefully…
8: Please can you tell me about the Visual Art of Bloodmachine. IE I get a certain feeling from it, I assume you’re trying to draw that out of the viewer. Is it an important part of the art of BM … or ?
IK: We've been super DIY with our visual content so far. It's all stuff we've shot on our phones or logos we've splashed onto cardboard with some paint. We'll put simple treatments on, simple text, and thats the vibe. It's definitely fun to create, yeah, but at the same time it's very real... and that's exactly what we're going for. No pretense. No styling. What you see is what it is and who we are, and if that draws a feeling out of people, brilliant.
CV: Isaac & I tend to have a similar eye it seems with these things. We’re pretty much on the DIY train, so while the creative process (visual) has been a most interesting part of the process, it’s felt quite seamless, almost effortless in creating the “look” because actually, we’re just doing us. We know what we like…often it’s simply because we know what we don’t like that we end up with what we get. If it creates a stir…rad.
Stand out tracks from Wide Open Skies: