Miss Machina with the juiciest ‘Rumor’ ever

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Inspired by 70s disco flare, 80s synth-pop, and 90s grunge rock, Machina blends genres and creates a sound inspired by the nostalgic music she listened to in her youth.

Ash Smith, AKA ‘Miss Machina’ is a Singer-Songwriter from Dallas, Texas who we found out is a communicator at heart. She graduated with honors from the  Chicago College of Performing Arts and SMU with a degree in journalism and a minor in Voice and songwriting. Fast-forward to today she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music where she chronicles her own experiences and emotions through songs that make us feel less alone.

Taking inspiration from 80s pop icons like Whitney Houston and Madonna, Machina has created an ode to the female experience and a celebration of the unpredictability of rumor mills.

We went and talked to Miss Machina regarding the release of her latest single. ‘Rumors’ is the first single she’s released from her upcoming debut album that’s been in the works since 2018. The track deals with -what else- rumors that get around causing all kinds of trouble for people. The song was a brainchild that only existed in Machina’s notes app for many years. After having to confront her own personal rumors, Machina was inspired to finish the song.

I think I have a hunch about the origin of your stage name -Miss Machina- and I wanna see if I’m right. Can you tell us where it comes from and why did you choose it? 

I am interested to hear your hunch… But it’s a funny story. I started a couple of years ago when I was living in Chicago and I was just starting out as a baby songwriter. I was working two other jobs, a constant theme in my life it seems, and I was fairly busy because of it. My close friend Fabian started to call me Miss Machine. First, it just started as a greeting over text, “Hello Miss Machine.” But then it began to evolve and every time it made me chuckle. I would send him a voice memo of a song. “Thank you miss machine.” I would be on my way to work. “There goes Miss Machine.” Going out for drinks, “Cheers Miss Machine.”

One day I jokingly said, “You know I might just use that as my stage name.” I didn’t jump on it immediately but I let it marinate for a while. At that time I started to meditate on different variations of “Machine” and I started to think of the Latin version “Machina” as in “Deus ex machina.” And I thought that was interesting. “Deus ex machina” translates to “god machine”. But it’s typically known as a plot device, something you don’t see coming. And that resonated.

Now, Ex Machina feels a little on the nose, and is already the title of one of my favorite films. So I thought, let’s combine the two “Miss” and “Machina.”

I chose it because I feel like the name carries meaning. It translates to “Miss Machine,” which was the original name but it also carries the weight of the implication of calling someone “a machine.” In a world where the digital seems to overwhelm what’s real, sometimes it feels like we do have to become machines… to be productive, to survive. 

The name is not meant to glorify this modern ideal, but to acknowledge it. I chose the name because it feels soft and feminine, but it has a sharpness and an edge, and that is very similar to my music sonically.

You attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts and graduated with honors with a degree in Journalism and a minor in voice and songwriting- You’re very clearly a communicator at heart. What do you want to communicate the most? What message do you want people to hear?

The message that is at the core of why I make music is that someone else in the world has felt what you are feeling. Someone else has experienced what you are going through. It may not feel like it, but on a planet with billions of people, one other person has felt that same heartbreak, and one person has felt that same joy. And I think music can bridge that gap and be a lifeline for those who may not feel like they have anyone. 

Tell us about ‘Rumors’. Where does the song come from and what’s it mean to you?

The song started as a small note on my phone in 2018… I know it’s been a long time coming. It started after I found out (shockingly!) a rumor that was going around my college about me. Long story short, people were convinced I was having a dramatic affair with a classmate and that I was the reason a couple broke up at our school. I know! It sounds like the perfect YA novel, right? Performing arts school? Love triangle? Heartbreak? Only it wasn’t true! 

It was funny to me at first, but then it started to bother me. It made me feel like a plot device or a vehicle for the entertainment of others…  I started to write the chorus, but I couldn’t seem to finish it. 

It wasn’t until I moved to LA in 2022 and met up with a friend from college that I would finish the song. When we met we started talking about school, and of course… that damned rumor… 

BUT, it became clear that she was talking about a different couple and a slightly different string of events… But the main details were relatively the same.

So somehow this rumor got so twisted that the cast of characters completely changed. I remember thinking, “Why is everyone so concerned with my love life, and not with just my life?” And the song was born. 

Not only is the song a celebration of the uncontrollable nature of rumors but the female experience of being the source of the rumor. 

I hope that the song serves as a reminder that not everything you hear is true and to listen to women’s  experiences, and not just when it’s convenient or entertaining

What’s your favorite ‘Rumor’ going on in the world right now?

I think my favorite one right now is that Nick Cage is a vampire or a time traveler. Which is one, awesome. Good for Nick Cage. And two, hilarious. 

The rumor seems to be based on this picture that bears a lot of resemblance to the actor, just from the 19th century…

And on the opposite end, what’s that one rumor in everyone’s mouth you hope isn’t true?

I have two answers. The first is a rumor that is hundreds of years old, and that’s that Shakespeare didn’t write his plays. I’m not sure how many people TRULY believe this but rather than hope it’s not true, I just wish people would stop talking about it. Let him have his plays. Nowadays many writers have ghostwriters and co-writers and it’s not a big deal, just let the works exist.

And the other, while not necessarily a rumor… is that I hope the “rumor” that the supreme court is going to ban tiktok isn’t true. I know it’s not a rumor, but it’s something on everyone’s mind and I hope for my own silly entertainment that I get to keep watching my goofy TikTok. 

How would you define yourself musically right now?

I am definitely at the crossroads of pop and rock, this release is significantly more pop, but future releases definitely cross genres.

I love the big and bold sound of 80s percussion, the groove of the 70s, and the grit of the 90s. Similarly to many coming of age in this era, musically I am a nostalgic melting pot of decades past, with lyrics tethered to my modern life. 

Let’s get to know you a bit more. What do you get up to outside of music?

I’m a bit of a video game fanatic. It’s my creative escape when music doesn’t do the trick. Whether it’s a PlayStation game or an old-school game of Dungeons and Dragons I’m quite a nerd when it comes to my hobbies. If I’m not playing a game (Hogwarts Legacy has been my choice lately) I’m reading or being a little too involved in online fandoms (aka reading and writing fanfiction). 

You’re working on a future EP. Any tentative release dates yet? What will it be all about?

I have five more songs coming out. The title of the EP will be announced soon. But the EP is a coming-of-age story, and particularly about what it means to grow up in a world saturated by media, capitalism, and digital influence. The next track, “Like That,” which explores para-social relationships, will be out on May 26th. And the third track, “Stranger Than Fiction,” which asks why life sometimes feels more far-fetched than fiction, will be out on July 7th. 


Author’s Note: The ‘Hunch’ was pretty much right.

 

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