9 questions to… Soulsavers


Dave Gahan & Rich Machin


(Lire la version traduite en français ici)

Soulsavers has always been evolving since their first album in 2003. Though they started as an electronic duo, some people will actually think they are a rock band. With guest vocalists and musicians such as Mark Lanegan, Mike Patton or Jason Pierce, they can’t be totally wrong. So when Dave Gahan collaborated to The Light The Dead See instead of making a third solo album, Soulsavers were only confirming they were already a huge thing.

Rich Machin accepted to tell us more about himself and his band, which will release a whole new studio album next year, hopefully with some surprises.


In 2006, the book 1001 albums you must hear before you die was published with a lot of albums, artists and bands missing. What would be your choices of albums or artists/bands that you think everyone should have listened in their life ?

Rich Machin : I’m not familiar with the list, but for me the less obvious ones in no particular order would be :
Spain ‘The Blue Moods Of Spain
Dustin O’Halloran ‘Piano Solos vol 1’
Alice Coltrane ‘Journey in Satchidananda
Mark Lanegan ‘Whiskey For The Holy Ghost’
David Crosby ‘If I Could Only Remember my Name
Aphex Twin ‘Selected Ambient Works vol II
The Staple Singers ‘Great Day’ (or any pre-Stax era compilation really)
The Stooges ‘Funhouse’


Mark Lanegan & Rich

What artists/bands, songs/albums, genres have inspired or inspire you ?

RM : Jimi Hendrix is always going to be top of that list. It may be a totally obvious choice I know. I still remember where I was the first time I ever heard him when I was a child & thinking « what the fuck was that » and then going and buying a cassette ‘Best Of’ from WHSmith the next day with my saved up pocket money. I’ve listened to him for nearly 30 years since then and never got tired of him and still hear little new things I’d never noticed before.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

There are other obvious artists like Ennio Morricone, Captain Beefheart, John Coltrane, Ray Charles, Arvo Part, Chet Baker & John Lee Hooker that require no real explanation.

& I really should mention DJ Shadow for ‘Endtroducing’ & the early singles from just before that record. That was a real game changer for me as it opened my mind to the fact you could make music & records yourself at home with only some basic equipment. You didn’t need a ton of money or a record contract. Without hearing that record I would never have even started doing music. It’s an amazing record too, I listened to it a few weeks ago again for the first time in a while & it still sounds great. I didn’t follow what he did after that record, but that one changed my life.

DJ Shadow {Endtroducing}

‘Endtroducing’ full cover

What books, films did you love reading, watching and could have inspired or influenced you in your life ?

RM : For books I’d have to obviously say Cormac McCarthy – ‘All The Pretty Horses & Blood Meridian’. Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa – ‘The Leopard’, Harry Crews – ‘Gospel Singer & The Knockout Artist’, Bulgakov – ‘The Master and Margarita’, John Kennedy Toole – ‘A Confederacy Of Dunces’. The work of Edgar Allen Poe & William Blake too.

For films, I’d have to say all of the Sergio Leone movies are easily the most influential, I love the way they look. A lot of the Hitchcock movies too, ‘Vertigo’, ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’, ‘Rear Window’, ‘Strangers On A Train’… I could go on.  ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Badlands’…

If we’re not just talking influential though, I really enjoy great Saturday night sofa tune-out movies like ‘French Connection’, ‘Rollerball’, ‘Escape From Alcatraz’, ‘Outlaw Josey Wales’, or ’48hrs’ & few more recent films too like ‘Animal Kingdom’, ‘The Machinist’, ‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘Memento’ & ‘Nebraska’.

Dave & Rich

Dave & Rich

What living artists (literature, cinema, painting, etc.) influence you ?

RM : Literature – Cormac McCarthy, William Gay & Nick Tosches.

Cinema – Paul Thomas Anderson, David Lynch, Lars Von Trier, Jim Jarmusch & The Coen Brothers

The Visual Arts –  For ‘living’ artists… Wow that’s really hard. I’d have to say maybe Bruce Davidson, Robert Frank & Don McCullin are the only ones that come to mind.

Even people like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Joseph Cornell who were incredibly inspiring have passed away in recent years. My taste in visual art has changed completely over the last few years. When I was a teenager and my early 20s, I loved graffiti & modern art. Now I have very little interest in it. Certainly no inspiration from it. Now I really love the older work of artists like Caravaggio, Michelangelo & Goya. Renaissance & Baroque art is something I never thought I’d ever have been interested in back when I was younger.

What country, city or place in the world is inspiring or essential to you ?

RM : Big Sur in Northern California. It’s just so beautiful. It’s got it all, green mountains and beautiful ocean. You can’t not fall in love with the place. The scale of it all is really inspiring.

Rich & Mark

Rich & Mark

What music have you been listening to recently ?

RM : James Holden – ‘The Inheritors’. I was really slow off the mark on this one last year, but someone gave it to me for Christmas and it’s one of the best new records I’ve heard in a longtime.

I finally got around to putting the Deafheaven record – ‘Sunbather’ in the car to listen to yesterday. That sounded great.

Then a lot of really interesting electronic stuff, The Fun Years – ‘Baby It’s Cold Inside’, Deaf Center – ‘Owl Splinters’, Andy Stott, Lussuria, Stars Of The Lid, GAS & William Basinski.

I really like the new Gallon Drunk record.

Then just revisiting a lot of older Six Organs of Admittance & Max Richter albums too.

Among all your work, what album would you like to mention in particular ?

RM : Well, probably the demos for our new record that we’re working on now. I’d always much rather have on my mind what I’m doing next/going forward than reminiscing over things I’ve done in the past. I have very little time for nostalgia.

Rich & Dave

Rich & Dave

Do you consider The Light The Dead See, with Dave Gahan singing ten of the twelve songs, a turning point in Soulsavers’ career ? Why (not) ?

RM : I guess so. It was the end of a chapter. I think it was the point where we’d come full circle from where we started out. Our first record was 100% fully programmed with no live instruments at all, and then with each record we learned more from the last & integrated more live/real instruments into each record. This reached its end with ‘The Light The Dead See’ which was 100% live instrumentation with no programming. Completing the circle. Now I feel more comfortable moving forward, we can do what we want & how we want, programming or live.

I chose Oscar Wilde’s A Preface to Dorian Gray last sentence ‘All art is quite useless’ for my welcome page. What do you think about its meaning today ?

RM : Well to me, I’d have to disagree. After family & friends, I find that art (music, film, literature, photography or painting) gives me more enjoyment than anything else.

How can happiness be useless ?

I’m more Pablo Picasso « The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls ».


Interview with Rich Machin for heepro.wordpress.com, 27th August 2014


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