Merging from the ashes of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have UK-based Sentience Machine. We had a chance to speak with the group about their single ‘Black Mirror’, earliest memories and much more.
OSR: How did Sentience Machine come together?
Rena: Ed, Jamie and I were in a previous band together. We wanted to curate a new band with a kickass sound and in autumn 2019 we started jamming in the studio. We auditioned a few bassists but didn’t find one who we gelled with musically. Jamie introduced us to his friend Stephen who plays hard-hitting bass and Sentience Machine was born!
Jamie: I met Rena and Ed at Panic Music Rehearsal studios as I used to work there. I auditioned for their first band and got the job.
OSR: If you had to compare yourself to another artist or artists who would they be and why?
Jamie: Hard to say who I would directly compare us to, but our sound is similar to Foo Fighters in degrees.
OSR: On your press release, you mentioned ‘Black Mirror’ as being a protest song against the violation of privacy and date. What do you hope people will take from this song?
Rena: I was inspired to write the lyrics for ‘Black Mirror’ after reading a worrying article about how pervasive China’s surveillance and facial recognition tools are, serving a dystopian vision for technology governance and control on human behaviour.
Jamie: I’d like people to be thoughtful and wise with their data and check how it is being used. It’s a good reminder that we need to check who we give permission to.
OSR: What do you think makes Sentience Machine unique?
Rena: Sentience Machine is making a statement about “keeping music alive”. The music industry is on its knees because of Covid. We are seeing more venues and rehearsal studios closing. Musicians are giving up on their careers because they can no longer earn from music. We want to make a point that music must go on and to not give up.
Stephen: The blend of styles and range of songs we write separates us from most other bands. Every song we create comes out sounding wildly different to the last in both style and format. We all have a wide taste in music which brings an interesting variety of musical styles in one song.
OSR: What is your earliest memory?
Rena: Counting the seconds between lightning and thunder with my mum in the kitchen. It was my first thunderstorm and I was fascinated by it.
OSR: What was the writing process like for ‘Black Mirror’?
Rena: It was a very fluid and organic process. We jammed the arrangement in the studio a few times before the song started to transform and take shape. Ed produced the song and once we had all recorded our parts he brought it to life with his production.
Ed: ‘Black Mirror’ is the first track that we wrote together as a band. The writing process started with Rena, myself on guitar and Jamie on drums. We were auditioning bass players after I had started producing the demo. Once Stephen joined it was very obvious that we were all in the same creative headspace.
We’re not at a point of finishing an album and it’s so exciting to see each one of us treat each other like family. Production took us a little time to get just right, but, honestly, it wouldn’t smack the way it does without the input of each individual.
Stephen: We were all so efficient with the writing and recording of ‘Black Mirror’ that listening back to the track is a pleasant surprise as it’s a vast and complex song. It was also great writing and recording it as a band in our own little space; we could bounce ideas off each other and perhaps that’s why all the parts were recorded so quickly.
OSR: What was the most enjoyable part of making ‘Black Mirror’?
Rena: The whole creative process behind ‘Black Mirror’ has been enjoyable. It’s not just about the song, but also the music video and our image. We worked with a talented team to create a bold image and strong photography. Our music video was shot in a dark, abandoned labyrinth to emulate suppression and fear.
OSR: A lot of people are experiencing cabin fever during Covid-19 lockdowns. How are you coping with restrictions and what do you recommend people do to deal with this situation?
Rena: I am fortunate to be able to work from home with my IT job and can continue making music. I haven’t let Covid stop me from living my life. While we still have limited freedom to go out, take the opportunity to see your family and friends. Of course, be safe, but don’t stop living.
Jamie: I hope people have been taking comfort in the things they enjoy, fruitful things that build them up like listening to music.
OSR: Do you have plans for the future?
Rena: We are recording our debut album and planning our next single release and tour. We’d love to get onto the festival circuit whenever that’s possible.