The Machine In The Garden
by Jett Black
Jett Black catches up with electronic artist Roger Frace of
The Machine in the Garden this February and presents a few curious questions:
Austin, Texas is now home to Machine in the Garden, formerly
of Denver, Colorado. Roger Frace & Summer Bowman unite classically creative
literary themes with unique and progressive modern music. Crossing over several
new music genres, tMitG continues to create and experiment under their own
independent label, Deus ex Musica. Ever industrious, Roger Frace takes a few
moments here to illuminate The Machine in the Garden...
Who *is* The Machine in the
Roger Frace and Summer Bowman.
Which musical classification would you prefer to be known
We'd rather not be classified. Worst case scenario:
When will tMitG record next?
We're always working on new material and/or re-recording or
remixing old material. We're in the process of recording material for a new
release this year and demoing for a second new release. Currently, we're
planning for these releases to be a mix of both old and new material. The
material is, again, a diverse mix of styles ranging from Ethereal to more
accessible, danceable pieces. Possibly you'll be hearing a lot more guitar on
the next releases than on Underworld.
What is the title of your latest and next
The current release is "Underworld" which was released in
December 1997. We have a few ideas being tossed around for the titles planned
for this year including "When Angels Peer Favorably Upon Us" and "Movement."
Hopefully one release will be available by late spring.
What changes in style & membership has tMitG
undergone since its inception?
The band was founded by me (Roger) in about 1991. For many
years I recorded and played shows alone. Summer joined tMitG in Spring 1997.
The most significant musical change occured in tMitG between 1994 and 1996 when
I was in graduate school for electronic arts. Being exposed to and being
encouraged to be more experimental in art really developed the direction I
wanted to take the music of tMitG.
What has been most effective in holding tMitG
Well, when you're solo, there's not a lot that can tear a
band apart :) As for being a duo, I think it's the very personal relationship
between myself and Summer in addition to our creative similarities.
How would you describe the music that tMitG ultimately
performs and records?
A little bit of everything. We range from Ethereal to
Darkwave to some Industrial to Dance. Live can be a little different because
Summer tends to do most all the vocals and I just hang out and play guitar
(even to songs that didn't originally have it).
Since the late '80's, differentiations in "underground"
music have resulted in distinctions such as "Gothic," "Industrial,"
"Electronica," "Darkwave" and others not as trend-setting. Where do you believe
these distinctions in darker music are headed?
I think the distinctions are going to become more blurred. A
lot of bands are going for crossover styles, so expect to see a lot of
hyphenated genres in the future.
How would you describe their evolutions from the late
'80's to today?
It's hard to say. In the 80s, Gothic tended to mean "Goth
Rock" and a lot of other stuff considered "Gothic" in the 90s was called "New
Wave" then. The 90s classification seemed to have been invented to some of the
diversity of 80s music that didn't have an appropriate label at the time.
What is the general motivation behind tMitG?
We have no political motivations. We infuse our music with a
lot of emotion reflective of our lives. People can, theoretically, understand
the emotion in the music and possibly relate to or understand it.
Looking back upon the progression of your music, how have
your messages evolved throughout the evolution of the musical styles?
Again, since we don't have any sort of political motivation
to our music, I can't really say that the message has changed. I do think that
the way both Summer and I paint pictures with our words and/or describe feeling
and emotion is similar. The music, though, has changed and I believe become
better over the years.
What experiences have been most influential in the
development of your music?
It's hard to say because I write what's in my head, and it's
not necessarily derived from any particular source. It could be as simple as,
"I want to write something in 6/8 time.
What do you believe is lacking in the industry that if
added would stimulate evolutionary new growth and creativity?
I certainly think there's a drive to be popular. Cetainly if
you make music that sounds like a classic band or sounds like the current fad,
you can have your 15 minutes of MTV fame. What we look for is music that can
last years and years, and have respect for ourselves, even if the music doesn't
pay the bills (which it doesn't).
What impressions do you have of the new music festivals?
(Some examples include Convergence, CopFest, and ProjektFest).
I've only attended one of these (Convergence 1) and also the
final NMS back in '94. I think the idea is cool, and it's a great way to get to
know people and meet new people. It's also a lot of new music for a reasonable
How do you believe these festivals impact the growth of
the scene that supports your musical talents?
No, I don't think so. Something like Convergence only
happens once a year and in one location. The people that care enough to go to
it are going to be people who already like what they're going to see there. I
don't think they're going to "convert" anyone who isn't already way into
How do computers and the Internet impact how tMitG
The Internet has helped us a great deal by allowing for this
free media to be accessible by anyone. We've also noticed that goths tend to be
very net-savvy, so it's helped a not-so-well known band like ourselves get some
exposure. Just by posting on a newsgroup, mentioning the band on IRC, or even
adding the band so search engines has helped a lot.
Do you utilize computer technology to develop the music
Yes, because we do use a lot of keyboards & digital
audio sequencing to create the music. Now, by no means is our equipment
state-of-the-art, but we're generally pleased with its performance and we get
to express our music sufficiently.
Who would you say characterizes the personality types of
people most likely to identify with your music?
It's hard to say. Our audience is predominantly Goth, but
really anyone with a "dark" attitude can enjoy what we do. There's quite a lot
of "normals" of all age groups who enjoy what we do as well.
Which record label is tMitG currently signed
tMitG is managed through the label Deus ex Musica, which we
founded ourselves in fall 1997. Apart from tMitG, we also distribute the bands
Zia and Wench, Shadowed Sky magazine and a novel by author Eric Muss-Barnes. We
have some licensing prospects for 1999 to get new tMitG released in other
markets as well.
Where have you found the largest positive support for
People who have some connection to the Internet and people
who enjoy music with compositional merit.
What activities occupy your time outside of recordings
I have a full-time job as a graphic designer/techie. I also
enjoy paying a lot of attention to Summer and our surrogate cat, Freeway.
What problems have you experienced with audio during your
live performances in the past?
Too many. Mainly lack of stage monitors or very poor stage
monitors. Clueless sound guys.
What really adds to your personal satisfaction of your
own live performances?
The audience actually coming up near the stage, paying
attention, some people dancing and everyone looking like they're enjoying
How do your recordings generally evolve?
In any given way. They can start with any instrument and
evolve all at once. A fragment can evolve and then be finished 3 years
Which writers have had influence upon the development of
The 2 biggie writers are Aeschylus and Shakespeare. We've
used they're words as lyrics twice each now.
Where might fans specifically look for the most recent
reviews of your music and interviews with band members?
We try to keep reviews and links to interviews on our
website at http://www.rpi.edu/~fracer/. Most recently, we had an
interview in the January 1999 issue of Outburn magazine.
How might fans reading this be most likely to contact
tMitG for more information?
People can visit our web page at
email us directly as email@example.com, or
snail mail us at 4815 W. Braker Lane, Suite 502-234, Austin TX 78759.