Photo taken by Nance Hall (@starfckers)
Ross Machala aka Spireview just dropped his second EP of
2021, ‘Individual Thought Patterns’. He has mastered blending hyper-pop
productions with raw, vulnerable lyrics, this time with a brighter twist than his
previous ‘Night Cycles’ project.
We spoke to Ross about the directions this project has taken,
working with local gems Brien and Becky McNeice, and the importance of using
creativity as a therapeutic tool.
This EP feels sonically brighter than ‘Night Cycles’ but still carries the similar weighted lyrical topics, has your approach to the instrumentals and production changed since your earlier release?
Yeah 100%, I had always intended this EP to be coming out in the summer so that certainly had an influence on the shift in tone. Looking back at Night Cycles it didn’t flow as well as I wanted and to me it sounds like an artist that was still grappling with their sound or unsure of themself. This time round I wanted to make something much more cohesive and to do that I knew I was going to have to stick to a set palette of sounds, The guitar became the glue that held it all together. Production wise what was new to the process was working with my good friend Zach Buckley, he has a production credit on every track on the project and really helped me to elevate the tracks, from really subtle sound design textures to crafting that whole switch up at the end of Silence, My Remedy, He’s able to do things in a DAW that i wouldn’t have the first clue how to achieve.
Lead single ‘Silence, My Remedy’ came out last Friday. How has the response been, and do you enjoy seeing the music make its way into the world or find it daunting?
The response has been really good so far, which has been a big relief as I was unsure as to how people were going to receive the more ‘poppier’ direction.
I'm always glad whenever release day arrives so I don’t have to hold on to the music anymore. It’s exciting to see what people think, however anxiety is always lurking around the corner especially whenever it comes to the numbers game, but I’ve been trying to not get too caught up in that these days and to be at peace with the thought of people listening and connecting with the music regardless of the digits.
How was working with Brien on the track? Did you learn anything new in the process?
Working with Pete was a fun day. I had been wanting to get down to his studio and working with him for years now, I’ve always admired his craftsmanship as a producer and a musician. That session came quite close to the end of the project when I was really in need of a lot of reassurance. I had been second guessing myself a lot up until then, especially regarding the vocals and the mixes but getting his ears on the tracks cleared up those doubts massively. He certainly passed on some gems of technical knowledge, but I feel it was the conversations that we had outside of Ableton that were the most inspiring and insightful. I do hope that we get to work together again in the future.
As well as being an incredible producer, your lyrics are so honest and raw. Is your song writing informed by the instrumentation or does that come after? Does the production affect the lyrics?
Aww you’re too kind, the instrumental comes first every time, that informs the melody and then I’ll find the words to slot into that, sometimes it can be a real stream of conscious affair like in Let Myself Go which just came out after sitting in gaff having a few bottles of white and hoping on the mic. Other times it’ll be a Frankenstein job where I scour the notes in my phone which are full of lyrics and wee lines. Often, I’m just writing in my phone things that I’m too afraid to say to the people in my life, you throw those feelings into a song and you’re able to express freely without any confrontations
Do you produce with a location for the listener in mind? For example, the dancefloor, bedroom, or the taxi home from the dancefloor to the bedroom?
Prior to moving up to Belfast I spent a fair chunk of my life sitting on trains and buses, so I feel there’s an element of wanting to create that ‘perfect’ soundtrack to accompany those long solo journeys along the coast, but I can’t say it’s a conscious decision merely somethings that’s influenced my intuition.
‘Fake Friends (Confessional)’ deals with the fears of opening up to new attractions, how has the creative process helped you?
Like I touched on earlier with the song writing process being a way for me to express myself without having to communicate directly to the people in my life it was very freeing, what I will say though is I don’t think a song like Fake Friends would’ve ever came about if I hadn't moved in with Pete from Plain Sailing, he certainly became a part time therapist to me during the making of this project haha, there was many a late night chat about what was going in my head which then allowed me the freedom to not only write about that stuff but also feel comfortable to put the song out.
Joining up with Becky McNiece for the final track ‘Nothing’s Changed’ is a brilliant pairing, how did that come about?
Becky is amazing, super talented and one who I can see going very far. This was actually our third collaboration together, the first will probably never see the light of day but the second was one of her more recent singles ‘Next to you’ which I produced for her. I think I came across Becky when she released ‘Gone South’ but it may have even been her feature on Dena’s ‘Super High’ tune. Was blown away by her voice so I ended up just reaching out to her and asking if I could send her some beats. When it came to Nothing’s Changed I don't think I had sent her any of the other tracks for the EP to hear when I fired over the beat but yet when she sent me her vocals back, she somehow had managed to touch on and encapsulate the same lyrical themes that I had been dealing with on the rest of the project. That tune is a real highlight for me.
The song grapples with feeling lost and stuck, but the whole EP sonically sounds like you’re freely experimenting and growing as an artist, is this balance of lyrical vulnerability and musical freedom something you find essential?
I think it’s more a case of when it comes to music and production that’s the only thing where i feel like i have some sort of idea of what as to I’m doing, anything else in life and I haven’t a fucking clue. so that's where the contradiction lies.
If there’s something you could tell yourself at the beginning of creating this EP what would it be?
Don’t try so hard, chill out and let it flow.
Are there any plans to take this show on the road?
The fingers are crossed, if any promoters are reading this, hit me up. I’m finally starting to get an idea as to how I want to present myself and the music live so let's see what happens.