Tumbling Nebulæ Interview (III)

Tumbling Nebulæ Interview & Gallery


The Interview

Tumbling Nebulæ formed in early 2013 when bassist Steven Machovic and key­board player Cynthia “Luxy” Machovic got together with a cou­ple of other musi­cians who should be famil­iar to any­one fol­low­ing Norman’s indie music scene. Guitarist Joey Powell was the gui­tar player for the late, lamented Shi++y Awesome, while Jason “Lightsmith” Scott has played drums for the Mean Spirits and occas­sion­aly sub­sti­tutes with Em and the Mother Superior. Steven, Cynthia, and Jason dropped by the Bureau in October, shortly after play­ing their first show, for drinks and an inter­view (as was the case when we inter­viewed Shi++y Awesome, Joey had to work and could not make it). Read on to learn about boozy cup­cakes, a mania for Japanese cars, heavy basses and fast drums.

Mercury Photo BureauWhat are your musi­cal backgrounds?

Steven MachovicIt started in the late 80s, early 90s, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Primus got pretty big — ever since then I wanted to play bass. I just like the sound [of bass] — I mean, you can do slap and pop and picking.

MPBI take it you’re only inter­ested in the elec­tric bass — you wouldn’t play the double-bass?

StevenUm, pos­si­bly.

Jason ScottYou do use a bow.

StevenTrue. I asked my par­ents [to let me play bass], and they got me an old Peavey T-40 bass, which I got rid of. Which I’m kick­ing myself in the ass for that now, because they’re pretty pop­u­lar now — they’re vin­tage and made in the USA. They’re actu­ally good basses — they’re just twenty pounds; that’s all.


Cynthia “Luxy” MachovicI’ve been play­ing piano since I was about 12 years old. Starting off I did a lot of clas­si­cal. I think it was about ’95 or ’96 when I got into elec­tric keys. Coming into the late ’90s or early 2000s I got into syn­the­siz­ers. Big influ­ences were Squarepusher, Boards of Canada, uh, lots of dif­fer­ent sounds. It’s like, a lot of — uh, bass-ey, drum, synth; not like club music: it’s more of an ambi­ent sound. Another influ­ence is old M83 — the Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts album. Björk also got me into those sounds.


JasonI’ve always been around [music]. My dad was a drum­mer, so I grew up watch­ing him play in coun­try & west­ern bands and south­ern-rock bands. I got my first lit­tle, tiny [drum-]kit when I was 5, and I’d sit next to him and bang on it. I really picked it up in earnest when I was 12 — my mom tried to get me to play sax­o­phone for a few years, but then I became friends with drum­mers and I just needed to get drums. So, my dad located an old ’70s clear, orange [kit] — you know, like John Bonham would play in the ’70s — I really got into that heavy Led Zeppelin sound —

MPBI don’t remem­ber from the show — do you play two bass drums like Bonham? [In fact, Bonham used a Ludwig Speed King Pedal and a sin­gle bass drum — Ed.]

JasonNo; but I used to play a lot of fast bass drum stuff that — I mean, I had some friends in the audi­ence say, Oh, get off the dou­ble bass drum ped­als, and then they’d real­ize, Oh; […] he’s just play­ing really fast. Growing up I lis­tened to what my dad was into — the Beach Boys and Queen and ELO, and then Led Zeppelin; then it turned into the Beatles. I got my first CD player in ’92 and started buy­ing mod­ern stuff: from twelve until I was twenty I was into Rage against the Machine and Nirvana and all that grunge stuff. But, here’s the thing: although I was doing per­cus­sion in high school, I was teach­ing myself the drum­set by lis­ten­ing to the records. So, there were a lot of 3/​11 [time sig­na­tures] — I’m get­ting to a point [laugh­ter] — and there’s some pretty poor taste in there, but look­ing back I don’t regret it, because there was good musi­cian­ship in there; there’s good teach­ing about dif­fer­ent styles. Then I played in a — I don’t know, new metal type band? — around 2000. They were called Communication Lost; they were kind of a sta­ple at [Mr.] Bill’s and some of the crap­pier bars in the metro. Some time dur­ing that I was break­ing [my] knuck­les, break­ing drum­sticks, break­ing equip­ment through poor tech­nique. So I took some lessons, and all that kind of busy-ness moved from the bot­tom on the bass drums up to my hands, which made me sound more back-beat, more ’60s, so then I got into that kind of music. So the drum­ming led me to the Kinks and, like, this kinda copy­cat band out of Florida, We the People, that I really like. It’s surf rock, ’though from the other coast; you know, all about girls and cars and stuff. But it’s really neat. Around 2003 I got into a lot of busy math rock, like the Mars Volta, but then I started play­ing with the Mean Spirits around 2005, and peo­ple started com­par­ing us to the Kinks and to that musi­cal era.

MPBSteven and Luxy, how did you meet?

LuxySteven and I met online in 2005, on a Subaru car forum.

MPBI used to drive a Subaru sta­tion wagon!

LuxyI never had one; I just dated guys that drove Subarus. A guy I used to date back in Austin had a Subaru, and intro­duced me to the whole Subaru world. And I really, really liked the vehi­cles, but I didn’t have 1, so I dated guys that had them so I could drive them. I moved up to New Jersey, where Steven and I had been talk­ing already for years, just as friends on the [Subaru] board, and that’s the only way I knew him. Never knew what he looked like; just knew his handle.

MPBWhat was it?

Steven02-GGA. That was the model year and pro­duc­tion code of my Subaru wagon.

LuxySo, on 1 of the threads, we were just post­ing pic­tures of every­body, and I saw him. And me being the weak-in-the-knees-for-Japanese-boys-type, I said, Oh, my god, hi to you! — who is this guy? And I found out it’s the guy I’ve known for years and years. And we decided to hang out, and so it went from there. It was long dis­tance for about a year while he was in Virginia Beach and I was in New Jersey, before I moved down. Eventually I moved in and we lived together for a few years.

StevenI was in the navy; I got out in 2008. [After a brief stay in New Mexico,] I got a job in Norman and we moved here.

MPBHow’d the band form?

LuxyMe and my drunken escapades. I think it started with my cup­cakes, with Jason. I own Luxy Cupcakes; they’re cup­cakes for adults — we make spicey, boozy, sweet and savory cup­cakes. We deal with Native Roots Market in [Oklahoma City’s] Deep Deuce, and what’s funny is, Jason’s good friends with [Native Roots own­ers] Matt and Sarah.

JasonSo, Matt and I would hang out and drink and then raid his store for food, and he’d have her cup­cakes, and I would buy a few of those and chow down. And he would keep me up-to-date, ’cause this was every other Saturday, so he would let me know, Here’s when they’re com­ing in; here’s what they’re gonna be, and [he’d] hold some back for me. I was a fan. Then I met her in the store and had my lit­tle fan­boy moment, [affects high-pitched lit­tle girl voice] Oh, my god; you’re the ‘Luxy’! Then I saw the oppor­tu­nity to barter [prod­uct] pho­tog­ra­phy for cup­cakes. So I gave her the card, and I don’t think we saw each other until January [2013]; I had a pho­tog­ra­phy show at Massive Graphics dur­ing the 2nd Friday Artwalk, and Luxy popped in with Steven. 

Oh, my god; you’re the ‘Luxy’!

LuxyWhat’s funny is, just before we met up with [Jason], we ran into Joey at Guestroom [Records], and we were talk­ing about ran­dom stuff, and we talked about [want­ing to start a band and need­ing] a drum­mer, and he goes, Go see Jason; he’s really good! You guys have got to go talk to him. [speak­ing to Jason] This was when we first heard about you. So we were pumped up; we lit­er­ally ran to Massive, because Joey said you weren’t going to be there for very long. So we go in there, and we see him, and I’m like, I think that’s Jason; I think that’s Jason, so we talk, and he gives me his card, and I looked at it, and it’s like, This looks so famil­iar; why do I remem­ber this card? It was from the cup­cakes! Then 1 night Joey and I were drink­ing at Abner’s [Alehouse], and we had this moment where I told him, Joey you’re 1 of the great­est gui­tarists we’ve met in Norman; we love your style; you’re fun; be our gui­tarist! So Joey was like, Yeah, yeah; I’ll be your gui­tarist, drunk as can be, just like I was, but in the back of my mind, I’m like, I’ve gotta remem­ber this; the 1 thing I need to remem­ber is to find Joey after tonight. A cou­ple of days later, I found him and I said, Joey. You said you’re gonna be our gui­tarist, and he’s like, What? That was this spring.

MPBJason, how do you know Joey and his mag­nif­i­cent beard?

JasonAnd his mag­nif­i­cent beard — which he’s had a long time. He and I go a long way back. We both went to the same high school; we both were in the same band pro­gram. We were both loosely affil­i­ated with McFarlin Methodist Church in Norman; they would have this week at the church, where all the kids would live there — dur­ing the school year; all the classes were there. It had a Lord of the Flies feel, because it seemed there were never any adults around, even though they were. And no one was killing any­body. [laugh­ter] We started hang­ing out then. It’s funny; that youth group, and espe­cially our age group: a lot of musi­cians came out of that. Scott Twitchell from Depth & Current; cou­ple of the guys in Dikes of Holland in Austin were in the McFarlin youth group. It’s funny; we’ve played in bars together and I look at these guys and I think, We all met in church!

MPBLuxy, how’d you come to be a cup­cake baker?

LuxyAt the job I used to work at in New Mexico, there was a cup­cake place around the cor­ner. And they were about 3 dol­lars a cup­cake; and I would buy two a day, because I have a real sweet tooth. Well, after a few months, Steven looked at the bank account and did not like what he saw. So he told me that I couldn’t buy any more cup­cakes. So I learned how to bake my own. I’m not a fan of just plain ol’ vanilla and choco­late; I’m an adult. I want beer in my cup­cake, and Steven wanted spicy, and, why not throw some bacon in there? So we started exper­i­ment­ing, and it took us about 3 to 4 years to get the recipes the way we want them. It was a lot of trial and error, because bak­ing is chem­istry. We went from too dry to just as moist as can be. Steven came up with a lot of our spicy and bacon recipes, like the Ghost Pepper Chili and the Pineapple Habañero. The 1 that I’m proud of is the cibo matto, which is named after one of our favorite bands. It means crazy food in Italian. It’s a lemon cake with a sweet marscapone and basil fill­ing with a can­died pancetta on top. That’s Steve’s favorite.

JasonThat’s my favorite, too.

LuxyMy favorite is the Almond Joy Division; and you can tell, some of our cup­cakes are named after bands we like. Anybody orders that, I always make extra for myself.

MPBJason, you’re a photographer?

JasonI nor­mally shoot things that hold still. Landscapes, archi­tec­ture; I like struc­ture. I also like see­ing land­scape reclaim archi­tec­ture. And bands, which don’t hold still. I like to use a rear shut­ter flash, which gets some of the move­ment lead­ing into it, so the image makes you feel like you were there; you have the lights and the action and the crazi­ness. I shot a lot when I was sur­vey­ing [Jason worked for a sur­vey­ing com­pany]; it afforded me the oppor­tu­nity to be all over Oklahoma in some pretty rural loca­tions, where if you see some­thing and you have a cam­era on you, it’s nice and handy. I guess I got the bug — I did a lot of shoot­ing in Germany and when I was in high school. I got my first dig­i­tal cam­era in 2003 and moved to Santa Barbara a week later. You can’t look any­where in Santa Barbara with­out see­ing a good pic­ture to take. I had some friends, but not a big social life, so I had a lot of time to cruise around on a bike and take pictures.

MPBHow did you arrive at the band name?

Luxy[laugh­ter] It’s changed! The first name was Coriolis Effect. Which was a UK band that some­one didn’t check on the inter­net! [laugh­ter] The other 1 was Low Cloud 9.

StevenSince I’m a mete­o­rol­o­gist, “low cloud 9” is the clas­si­fi­ca­tion for a thunderstorm.

LuxyTumbling Nebulæ is a ref­er­ence from Doctor Who. He does say tum­bling neb­u­las, not tum­bling neb­ulæ. I majored in astron­omy — cos­mol­ogy — so I like every­thing “space.”

Through crim­son stars and silent stars and tum­bling neb­u­las like oceans set on fire. Through empires of glass and civ­i­liza­tions of pure thought. And a whole ter­ri­ble won­der­ful uni­verse of impossibilities.

MPBIn your band bio, you describe the band as post-rock, but that’s just about as vague as can be. What do you mean?

JasonIt’s spacey; it’s instru­men­tal, for the most part; a lit­tle bit heavy, but, you know, a lot of dynam­ics. It’s not real “pop”-y.

LuxyGamma Ray Burst is a lit­tle “pop”-ier.

LuxyWhat I want — you know, I’m actu­ally learn­ing the bass and gui­tar right now, so, instead of get­ting an extra player, I’m play­ing those and the syn­the­sizer. Jason likes “busy”; I like that too, but we’ll have some songs where there’s a slow part and Jason’s just “chill” — kinda takin’ a breather.

JasonYou want to feel like some­thing big, walkin’ through the woods, just lum­ber­ing, and not be too loud or too busy; [you want to] give the song some weight.

LuxyAnd then come in with good sounds, you know. When I play the synth, I’m gonna be using a fuzz pedal; I’m gonna be using a delay, a reverb, tremolo; I’m gonna be play­ing with all these dif­fer­ent sounds, where it really doesn’t sound like a synthesizer.

MPBWhen I saw your first show, you played 4 songs for a total of about 40 min­utes, non-tra­di­tional forms, in fact, struc­turally free-form — inchoate, if that’s a fair description —

JasonEspecially that time; I think we rearranged a lot of stuff on stage that night — Oh; so this is where we’re going?

MPBSo, related to the pre­vi­ous ques­tion, it’s instru­men­tal; it doesn’t have an eas­ily dis­cern­able struc­ture unless you’ve heard it before (which, obvi­ously, for that audi­ence, they have never heard it before). What’s the moti­va­tion to make this kind of music?

LuxyI’ve always liked instru­men­tal music, based on my own musi­cal back­ground — clas­si­cal and ambi­ent. I’ve always played alone; I did all my own sounds; again, instru­men­tal. I “got into” a lot of bands, and a lot of them were instrumental.

Jason[In school,] I was in band, full orches­tra, jazz band. I really, really, really always loved Fantasia. And I’d never played in an instru­men­tal band, so [Steve and Luxy] said that [they were form­ing an instru­men­tal band], and I said, Oh, fan­tas­tic! I’ve always wanted to do that!

MPBWhat are your future plans? [

Discussion of var­i­ous sched­ules ensues — Ed.]

LuxyWe’re all working.

JasonWe’re all adults with­out kids, who have jobs with crazy hours.

StevenI think a regional tour would be nice.

JasonI haven’t dis­cussed it with these guys, but the last cou­ple of bands I’ve played in, we employed an 8 to 8½ hour cir­cle around Oklahoma City [that we were will­ing to travel]. You can hit St. Louis, lots of good “party” schools in Arkansas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Denton. If you wanna stretch your rules, you can reach Kansas City; Columbia, Missouri; Lawrence. We prob­a­bly need to add a song or two to get a good, solid, hour-long set.

StevenI do want to play the Norman Music Festival.

MPBWhat’s on your iPods or other music players?

JasonI’ve been lis­ten­ing to a lot of Bombino. And last week, I went through an old-school Metallica phase. Lot of garage rock: Tame Impala and Ty Segall.

LuxyI’ve been on a Mexican rock kick, plus 1 ska band out of Argentina. Café Tacvba, Caifanes, Jaguares and Jumbo from Mexico. The Argentine band is called Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.

StevenI’ve been lis­ten­ing to a lot of Japanese post-rock; there’s a band called Miaou, and [another band called] MONO. Little bit of [Icelandic band] Múm.

MPBTime for our reg­u­lar fea­ture, Reedeem a Song™. Name a song you love that doesn’t get much respect, either crit­i­cally or in the cul­ture, and tell me what’s great about it.

JasonThe Novelty of Haunting by So Many Dynamos. The vocals are pretty juve­nile sound­ing. Not the lyrics; the way the singer’s voice sounds, like he’s fresh out of high school. He’s not; it’s just the way he sounds. The musi­cian­ship is great; the com­po­si­tion is great; through­out the whole album you get these the­matic call­backs to ear­lier songs. I really like the whole album. The song is about a guy who’s died and he’s a ghost, and he’s been haunt­ing for a while, and the novelty’s worn off. And he kind of feels like a creeper, hang­ing out in his old friends’ houses, and he just wants to be with them.

LuxyI like the Icelandic band Múm, a song called Weeping Rock, Rock. I’ve never heard a singer like that; it’s really high pitched. The sound, where it comes in rough; you know, with the dif­fer­ent synths, and you can tell they’ve used these ran­dom ped­als […] and then you have this […] angelic voice. It makes me feel really good.

StevenThere’s this group from New Hampshire, the Super Secret Project, and they do a par­ody of the Jay-Z song Empire State of Mind, but it’s Granite State of Mind. I’m from New Hampshire, and it seems like any­where else in the United States, New Hampshire doesn’t get much respect.

MPBI’d say it’s more like it doesn’t even show up in most people’s con­scious­nesses. So why specif­i­cally do you like the song?

StevenIt has inter­est­ing facts […] about New Hampshire.

MPBSo, it’s educational?


MPB[sar­cas­ti­cally] That is so much more appeal­ing! [laugh­ter]

LuxyIt’s actu­ally pretty catchy. I remem­ber when [Steven] showed [the YouTube video] to me for the first time. It’s quite com­i­cal and it had a good beat.

MPBCondidering the source mate­r­ial, I guess I’m not sur­prised. [laugh­ter] Anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?

LuxyI’m really happy that we got together; Steven and I have been plan­ning on doing this for years, since before we were mar­ried. I kept on push­ing him to play music, you know: Do it; do it; don’t stop, for what­ever rea­son, and I’m glad that Steven had the “oomph” to go with it. And I’m glad my drunken escapades led me to meet the other guys, along with my cupcakes.

MPBThey sort of go together; some of them are a lit­tle boozy.

StevenI’m glad that we’re here in Norman.

LuxyNorman has been very kind to us, musi­cally, men­tally; it’s great. It’s so laid back and the music scene is great. 



About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

↑ Go back to the beginning of this page.
Mercury Photo Bureau underlying-calculable