Beautiful Machines Explore the Concept of “Control” On Immersive New Single

Merging intriguing electronic music with a sci-fi concept that will get you thinking, Beautiful Machines are making a triumphant comeback with their latest single “Control,” a look at how technology and structure have affected our lives. From the buzzing synths to the haunting vocals, “Control” beckons a new era for the duo, comprised of Conrad Schuman & Stefanie Ku. It ponders how much control someone truly has over their life while showing off Beautiful Machines’ masterful control over their narrative and sonic vision.

“‘Control’ is wrapped in the idea of humanity creating AI and man merging with machine, which as of this decade, feels all the more likely,” the duo tells TREMG. “The song has a rhythm that feels like you’re on a conveyor belt of life, hurdling toward the inevitable, just being shown experiences. You look left and right, you are presented with offers and you make decisions.  The song is about looking at the idea of choice and discovering if it is actually a choice or part of the program, and gets into the question of ‘do we have free-will?’” 

Just as stunning as the song itself is its colorful music video, which draws from the bright aesthetic of cyberpunk as a nod to the band’s aesthetic and the track’s theme of machines. They filmed the clip in a factory in Southern France, surrounded by lively parade floats in storage and movie set pieces waiting for their next appearance on the silver screen.

“Stefanie, our synth player, experimented with video feedback and looping and found a really cool analog way to create visual textures that totally connected with us on what the song is also about,” Beautiful Machines shares. “Imagine ouroboros, that image of snakes eating their own tails, as an emblem for an infinite loop, which sometimes feels like the world we’re in. Plus it just is fun to watch, so check that out in the background of the video. You can also see a brief moment of it looping when you play ‘Control’ (the radio edit) on the Spotify mobile app.”

Photo courtesy of Reybee, Inc.

“Control” is a promising glimpse into the sci-fi world Beautiful Machines will build on their upcoming album, Singularity, due later this year. The project hints at a mysterious exploration of human emotion contrasted by synths, electronic notes, and technological motifs that represent the ties we have to our computers and mobile devices. Whatever conclusions the album comes to, it’s certain that fans will find something new to fall in love with while new listeners will be impressed by the immersive sounds and concepts on the record.

The duo explains, “We’re always re-inventing what we do and trying to keep things fresh, but with this album, we decided to fully embrace our love of things like synths, arcade vibes, 80s nostalgia, metal, dark-wave, industrial sounds, sci-fi, philosophy and spirituality, and atmospherics, aiming to create a sonic space with this album, as well as some challenging pieces and odd time signatures, with more complex arrangements for our progressive and classical roots. With Singularity we are also wanting to bring this fully into the future with ‘experiences’ both digital and analog. The details of that are still a mystery for now, so we’ll have to wait to share, but a clue might be: ‘A reality within and beyond.’”

We can’t wait to step into the reality of Singularity! Until then, we’ll have “Control” on repeat. You can keep up with Beautiful Machines on Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, and their official website, and keep reading for more from our conversation with Conrad and Stef.


Congratulations on your new single, “Control!” What does the song mean to you?

Thank you!  “Control” is wrapped in the idea of humanity creating AI and man merging with machine, which as of this decade, feels all the more likely. The song has a rhythm that feels like you’re on a conveyor belt of life, hurdling toward the inevitable, just being shown experiences. You look left and right, you are presented with offers and you make decisions. The song is about looking at the idea of choice and discovering if it is actually a choice or part of the program, and gets into the question of “do we have free will?”   

What made you want to release “Control” as the lead single of Singularity? 

With all that is going on in the world, “Control” felt like a song that is reflecting the current zeitgeist, tying in with the latest Matrix: Resurrections movie, asking the question who or what is in control? In a world that is relentlessly infused with technology, as a people, we are fed streams of information at an ever-increasing rate. Information that we seek, or that finds us. Information or content that shapes our behavior, influences us in some way to take an action, to motivate us, to shift our perspective or change our will. So this question of “choice” is a central theme. 

Alongside “Control,” you released a colorful music video for the song. What was it like on set, and what inspired the visuals? 

In general, we are really into a cyberpunk and sci-fi futuristic aesthetic, which is a bit of what we’re trying to portray in this music video. The set was in a converted factory in the south of France. Offstage there is a whole separate area where all these “things,” thousands of festival structures like parade floats, movie set accouterment, costumes, lighting, are housed. Pretty fun place, felt like home in San Francisco before Burning Man.  

How the visuals were made is actually really cool! Stefanie, our synth player, experimented with video feedback and looping and found a really cool analog way to create visual textures that totally connected with us on what the song is also about.  Imagine ouroboros, that image of snakes eating their own tails, as an emblem for an infinite loop, which sometimes feels like the world we’re in. Plus it just is fun to watch, so check that out in the background of the video. You can also see a brief moment of it looping when you play “Control” (the radio edit) on the Spotify mobile app.

You’ve described this next chapter of your career and discography as “a different type of experience.” How do you feel that “Control” and Singularity stand out from your previous work?

We’re always re-inventing what we do and trying to keep things fresh, but with this album, we decided to fully embrace our love of things like synths, arcade vibes, 80s nostalgia, metal, dark-wave, industrial sounds, sci-fi, philosophy and spirituality, and atmospherics, aiming to create a sonic space with this album, as well as some challenging pieces and odd time signatures, with more complex arrangements for our progressive and classical roots. With Singularity we are also wanting to bring this fully into the future with “experiences” both digital and analog. The details of that are still a mystery for now, so we’ll have to wait to share, but a clue might be: “A reality within and beyond.”

Over the past few years, you’ve gone from living in San Francisco to being a self-described “nomadic” duo. What has it been like to get to explore so many areas of Asia and Europe? Have any places particularly inspired you?

OMG! It has been incredible! We’ve written this whole album, in pieces, all over these various places, all of it, the views, the smells, the tastes and experiences, all of it shapes us. When we travel, it’s less like tourists and more like villagers. If we shared our photo journal it would definitely feel like a travel blog. Hmm, maybe we should. But the most important thing was that initial decision to actually do it, and not wait for things to be just right, because they never will be. We had and still have a lot to figure out about how to navigate this way. So many people say someday, but then someday never comes, so that decision to take the leap and trust not knowing what will happen in the future and trusting our intuition, has been immense.  

For most of this time when traveling, we did not have a car, so we carried everything with us (which if you’re a backpacker is well-known and manageable). But when you carry with you guitar, keyboards, portable music studio, gear, plus all your personal belongings, phew, it’s a bit heavier. Places that inspire us tend to be places of great natural wonder and beauty on the one hand, like hiking the Swiss Alps and exploring their pristine lakes, cruising the northern Italian Riviera for a cappuccino and rocks to climb… I personally love the South Tyrol region that connects Italy and Austria, and that little elbow of where France meets Italy meets Switzerland, it’s just so breathtaking and inspiring there, little red trains gliding through the mountain passes, the sun glistening off the water, now I’m daydreaming.  

On the other hand, we really like to entrench ourselves in places the rest of the world might call third world, but to us they are anything but, culturally diverse. Some of the kindest people we met are from places like Nepal, Guatemala, Panama. Riding elephants and eating coconuts in Thailand. We have found a sweet spot in Malaysia as we played a few shows there and really built up a little base of close friends. 

Your unique sound combines elements of electronic, pop, and rock. Who are some artists that influenced “Control” and Singularity? 

We’re influenced by music, but also heavily by movies, books and thoughts. “Control” tends to feel more influenced by some 80s dark-wave artists like Depeché Mode, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis had an influence, of course Ade Fenton who co-produced this with us and his work with Gary Numan also found its way into this track. With Singularity, there are darker tracks and lighter tracks with influences ranging from artists like M83 and Jean-Michele Jarre to rock acts like Muse, to electronic and EDM like DeadMau5 and other synthwave acts like Carpenter Brut or Gunship and classical musicians like Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Bach, Mozart and Chopín, but also there is a bit of world influence there too I have to admit, although it’s hard to hear until you discover that it’s been reformed into some industrial style elements.  

Which song on Singularity are you most excited for fans to hear?

Does there have to be only one?  To us this is one of those albums where the songs can all work together, very much intentional in that respect.  We have a few more singles coming out before the album and vinyl this year.  “Angelica” is a track that really transforms and doesn’t follow a normal arrangement, and is significantly longer at around 7:20, but at the same time is super fun to play and listen to. I find myself revisiting that one, especially listening to the end, when all hell breaks loose. Hopefully people can stand a longer song, or we can call it a long-format short song.  

If it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic, what would your dream album promotions look like?

Well, ideally we would fly over a city before we perform in a blimp shaped like a spacecraft, and drop these mylar balloons over the city, with little gifts from above dropping down. Also a lot more in-person live events would be amazing, as we really do miss those connections and energy.  

How do you feel you’ve grown as artists since your last album, 2016’s Bridges? 

I think there has been a lot more sophistication in our songwriting process, discernment in what we genuinely like and want to express, growth in production skills, and interest in creating a lot of unexpected moments in the music.    

Is there anything else you’d like to mention that the questions didn’t touch on?

We’d like to thank TREMG for being amazing and contributing this platform to help artists express themselves and your efforts to champion not-for-profit causes. The underground music community thanks you.  

Also if you’re a creator, technologist, innovator and you’d like to connect and do something inspiring and just bizarre, let us know, we’re up for making interesting things in the world.

Artist Spotlight Entertainment News Music Tech World TREMG news

Madison Murray View All →

Hi! I’m Madison Murray, a pop culture and music writer who also loves writing about lifestyle and fashion. I have credits on sites like TREMG, The Honey POP, Genius, Young Hollywood, and Audible Addixion, as well as my own Melodic Musings blog. Find me on socials @madisonmwrites!

1 Comment Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: