Machinae Supremacy's Robert is or isn't a Phantom Shadow?

Machinae Supremacy's video game inspired sounds, melodies, and way of creating music really captures that genetic approach. They have been around for quite sometime now and have upon them their sixth album called "Phantom Shadow". Frontman vocalist Robert Stjärnström talks of that release and future activities.

1. Can you give those of us who aren't familiar with Machinae Supremacy a brief history of the band and can you please describe your sound for those who have yet to hear your music?

Robert: We’re an alternative metal band from Sweden, and we play metal turbocharged with old-school video game sounds and influences, that kind of 8-bit gnarly blippediblopps and tones some of you remember from the pre-hifi-era of computers and video games.

2. Your band's name is Machinae Supremacy, why did you want to go and call yourselves this title and what does it refer too?

Robert: It was a cyberpunk reference, augmented with some Latin just to make it more interesting. The basic idea was to refer to the supremacy of machines over humans. Can be interpreted in the context of fiction as well as in real life science and technology.

3. What are your impressions of the metal scenes in your hometown and in Sweden as a whole?

Robert: We do have a few really good bands in Sweden but I feel as though metal is an export product, still. Swedish people in general don’t seem all that interested to be frank, and sure, the really internationally big bands attract big audiences at festivals and such, and luckily I believe metal fans are more loyal than fans of most other genres, but in our home town, there is no metal scene at all.

4. Why did you want "Beyond Good and Evil" as your single and video of choice and why use a live performance as your concept instead of a typical concept video.

Robert: We’re working on a video for the song “Renegades”, which is more complex than usual and it’ll take some time to finish. We pushed out “Beyond Good and Evil” using footage we already had in order to have something out and available in time for the album release.

5. Could you describe your song writing process? What comes first the music or the lyrics?

Robert: The music comes before the lyrics, but the idea of what a song should be about is usually either already there (thought not connected to any music yet) or is born at the same time as the music is conceived. We usually get most of the base parts of a song in place before finalizing the lyrics, and sometimes we rearrange, transpose or drop and replace parts of songs to make it work better. It’s a very iterative process for us, and it involves a lot of files being sent back and forth (we rely heavily on Dropbox for this).

6. Can you tell us how this album differs from the previous ones? What can we expect and what is the message behind it?

Robert: It’s our first concept album. We've had stories in our songs before, but this is the first time we use 16 tracks to tell one coherent story, which itself is part of a greater saga. The story has many subtleties amidst a violent and strong core message, but the main takeaway could perhaps be that good and evil isn't as simple as black and white. And being a force for good is still possible even if your reasons are not altruistic.

7. What would be the cinematic equivalent of Phantom Shadow?

Robert: Perhaps a mix between Equilibrium and Enemy of The State.

8. Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?

Robert: Yes. We tend to look at our music as more than what you hear. There is a substance, a story or sometimes just a message, but still it’s something that we hope will inspire images and feelings in our audience.

9. What does Phantom Shadow mean to you all?

Robert: We try to challenge ourselves with every release in some way. To do something we haven’t done before. This time, we made a concept album with a singular story being played out from beginning to end. And we, personally, feel it turned out pretty great, which means this album marks a new stepping stone for us with regards to how we create and piece everything together. We also brought in more collaborators than ever before, so the album really is bigger than before, in every way. We’re very proud of it.

10. How did the idea of wanting to take video games and infuse it with music making? Would you say that your style is similar to that of PowerGlove?

Robert: A Swedish company, Elektron, empowered me to do so by providing a synth based on the old Commodore 64 sound chip. It’s called SIDStation. I bought it and started making music. When I met Jonne, one of our guitarists as well as co-founder of Machinae Supremacy, he brought the heavy riffs into the equation and here we are.

I’m sure fans of PowerGlove might enjoy Machinae Supremacy and vice versa, but if you’re an avid metal fan you’d probably describe the sound of both bands quite differently in spite of the obvious common inspiration and influences for both bands.

11. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?

Robert: Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, our website and wherever your preference brings you. You should also check out the games we've done, in particular Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, and Jets’n’Guns. Both are awesome games, you’ll enjoy them.

12. What is it you'd like a listener to remember the most when hearing your music for the first time?

Robert: That it’s got substance. It’s atmospheric yet playful, powerful but without taking ourselves too seriously. And the lyrics have meaning, they’re not just words placed after one another to fill a musical void. And ultimately that there are no filler songs on our albums. We don’t make one or two good songs and then just fill the rest with mediocre material, as is still sadly so common in most music.

13. What else do you have planned for the rest of this year into next year?

Robert: We’re touring in Europe and Russia, and we’ll be working on the soundtrack for an upcoming video game called “For My Brother” by Crooked Tree Studios. We start 2015 with headlining MAGFest in the US and then our European tour continues.

14. Any last words for the friends and fans out there?

Robert: Sharing is caring. Remember to tell your friends about us. Thanks!

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