Ali McGhee is a journalist, creative writer, and academic. Her work has appeared in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Romantic Circles, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary...
The Difference Machine defies description. They're a multi-person electronic group infused with hip hop and psychedelic grooves. Their albums are rich, layered experiences that make for some of the best and most addictive listening experiences, and their live shows vibrate at an even higher frequency. Their new album, The 4th Side of the Eternal Triangle, is officially out on Friday, June 24th--the day before they grace the stage at the Mothlight during All Go West, a full day of free music in West Asheville. Their set starts at 9:30, and it's a great opportunity to see these Atlanta-based radical musicians and thinkers do what they do best.
The Difference Machine is rapper/spiritual adviser Day Tripper (DT), producer/visionary/magician Dr. Conspiracy, Drummer Drumz of Def, DJ/effects expert Obeah, sound engineer Taylor Wynn, visual artist J. Smiley, and their manager/adviser Brannon Boyle of Speakeasy Promotions. Together, they craft beats and rhymes that speak to your soul and leave you hungry for more. Their new album features guest collaborations with Homeboy Sandman, Curtis Harding, Stacy Epps, Paten Locke, and others.
I spoke with the Difference Machine's DT and Dr. Conspiracy about their music, the show, and the influence of dreams and psychedelia on their work. The Difference Machine. Photo: Chad Hess. Source: band's Facebook
AG: The ethos and aesthetic of the psychedelic is clearly central to your music. It also seems linked to revolutionary knowledge and transformation. Can you talk about how this informs your process and final product?
DT: I think it informs a very significant part of our process. It's a tool we use to understand our own expression. How it comes out reflects what's going on inside. Inside your head, inside of your heart, inside your ego, etc...We believe in the transformation of energy and the many forms it can take and how to harness said energy for a pronounced purpose. Psychedelia has played a major part (but definitely not all) of how we've come to understand ourselves and what role there is for us to play.
As far as revolutionary knowledge, we would like to think that the vibrations we send out could spark people to want to seek it. Our knowledge isn't ours. It's for anybody, and accessible to anyone who wants it.
Dr. Conspiracy: The deep understanding that you gain from real psychedelic experience is intangible, but we are endlessly influenced by psychedelic art forms (bands, art, literature, etc).
AG: How do you guys make music together and split up the parts of that process? Do you each come to the table with different strengths and/or areas of focus?
DT: This is gonna sound like I'm ducking the answer, but it's all of those things. It all depends on the situation. We're The Difference Machine. We are organically mechanical or mechanically organic, you can choose. I would say that everybody from our manager to our engineers have ideas--and good ones at that, but Conspiracy is the leader of the process. The one that always knows the right direction even after we argue about it for a day. But we all trust each other and we definitely have different strengths.
Drumz of DEf is a master at his craft so it's kinda hard to be like "let me play this drum part." Obeah is strong with the cuts and has a good mental database for finding stuff to scratch. And also knowing some of our friends are way better musicians thn us, we bring them into the fold to keep the machine from corrupt data input and overloaded RAM. Every song started from some idea we got while we were on the porch just talking about life.
AG: Your new album is set to release just before All Go West on 6/24. Congratulations! Were there any particular challenges or unexpected awesome things that happened when you were working on it?
DT: The making of this album was the best time of my life exactly coinciding with the worst part of my life personally. I think there's a certain beauty in that looking back on it. I'd also say the whole album in a sense was unexpectedly awesome because we didn't totally know what we had till we went to mix it. We tried so many things that until we could go in and parse stuff down we had no idea how polished the diamond would be. That being said, we are very happy with the end result.
I wouldn't say there were too many challenges. The most noticeable one I can think of is song structure. Sometimes we weren't exactly sure of what parts to put where, but I think it all came out good.
AG: Are there any tracks you feel especially connected to/have interesting stories behind them?
DT: There are some tracks that stand out to me emotionally more but I'm roud of every track. "Another Tomorrow" was exciting to make. "Reel Wonder" also from the standpoint of how it started. "Kingdom of Earth" feels beautiful to me. Also would like to shout out to some of our inspirations for this record: 13th Floor, Elevators, Bill Hicks, the Beatles, Nirvana, Edan, Jel, Al Lover, Yamin Semali, Sum, 10th Letter, Waking Astronomer, definitely Where.Are.We, and Chris Hunt, the Kill First, the NEC and many more--but these cats played a crucial role in this and I don't wanna leave them out.DT at Ohm Park Fest. Photo: Kevin Griggs. Souce: band's Facebook.
AG: What can people expect from your live show that haven't seen you before?
DT: What I will guarantee you about our live show is raw energy. Lightning bolts from the stage.
The Difference Machine will take the Pisgah Brewing Stage @ the Mothlight on Saturday, June 25th at 9:30 pm for All Go West. Their new album is available on Bandcamp. More information and the full lineup for All Go West is here.