Catching Up with Beatbox Machinery

Beatbox Machinery. Photo Credit: Giannis Katsaras.
Beatbox Machinery. Photo Credit: Giannis Katsaras.

Beatbox Machinery recently released a pair of EPs, Hot Body and Cyber Drama, that have both become quite popular. Over a slow but steady email exchange, Toxic Razor, the Rhodes, Greece-based producer behind the outfit, offered up some insight into his dark mastery.

He also elaborated on the finer points of those two EPs and teased the possibility of a new album, and a boxset of remixes, that could be coming out this year.

For starters, what separates him from many of his contemporaries is that although he certainly relies on synth-drenched arrangements, he doesn’t use software or even MIDI. This is, to say the least, rather rare.

He said he only uses hardware synthesizers and drum machines “in a real-time mode,” recording and editing on a multitrack recorder. It sounds old-school even for an 80s-inspired retrosynther.

It’s less surprising, though, when you consider how he spent his youth in Athens.

“I grew up with the sound of 80s pop,” Razor says, “but I also enjoyed heavy metal and hard rock.”

More than 15 years ago, when he first started making music, Razor was slinging riffs in local rock bands. But that all changed when he got his first synthesizer. After that, he couldn’t keep his mind off the electronic side of things.

“Artists like the Pet Shop Boys, Sandra, Mylene Farmer, A-HA, OMD, Yazoo, Depeche Mode… had a big impact on me,” he said. “I always liked the sound of the 80s synth bands, so it all came naturally.”

Hot Body cover art. Photo Credit: Beatbox Machinery and Future 80s Records.
Hot Body cover art. Photo Credit: Beatbox Machinery and Future 80s Records.

Since then, there have been several albums and EPs, with the most recent being Hot Body, released in December on Future 80s Records, and Cyber Drama, which he released in January on his own label, the six-year-old Werkstatt Recordings.

“The Hot Body EP is my homage to the amazing world of old TV series and VHS tapes, and generally that sweet reminiscence I have from that period,” Razor said.

Its pink and purple, Jane Fonda-inspired cover certainly backs that up.

Singer Kriistal Ann lends her vocals on the EP’s haunting title track. He praised her work and says he thanks for “her precious help over the years.”

Cyber Drama is Razor’s gift to long-time supporters of Beatbox Machinery. To celebrate the five-year-old project, he tapped into his Pet Shop Boys fandom and made a very Beatboxy cover of “Domino Dancing.” He also tossed in the bubbly title track, a remixed and remastered version of one of his earliest Beatbox Machinery cuts. The third song, “Solitary Angel,” conjures up both the dark alleyways and the festive dance halls of 1980s New York City — as seen in the fuzzy VHS documentaries I’ve watched on public access cable shows.

“It’s mostly a made-for-fun EP,” he said. “I hope that listeners will enjoy it, and that maybe it’ll bring up some teenage memories.”

Going forward, Toxic Razor has plans to keep himself busy.

“I’m working on new material and preparing a new album, with some collaborations with other artists from the synthwave scene,” he said, noting that he’s also got some remixes set to be released in March.

But that’s only the start of it, because Razor wants to return to the stage.

“It’s been over two years since I did my first live performance for the BM project,” he said, “and I would love to start doing it again.”

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