Myst Mach: “Drag has a power that mesmerises you.”


As her set ends at the first inFREQUENCY show, a punter yells from the crowd “We love Myst Mach!” Without missing a beat, she yells back “It’s ‘Mist Mark’ because I don’t want to be called Miss Mac n’ Cheese!”

Myst Mach is the pseudonym of Gizmo, an experimental musician/sound designer from the Far South Coast, NSW. As a DJ she mixes genres in a provocative way to create a delicious audio soup, while the performances are equally provocative to watch. Cyclic Defrost’s Jason Richardson quizzed Gizmo about the role of music in her life.

Cyclic Defrost: Do you have any recollections of an early interest in sound or music?

Myst Mach: The earliest memory I have is from when I was about three years old, we had a compilation CD of popular songs at the time and I remember specifically ‘Casual Sub’ by E.T.A. and ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ by the Chemical Brothers. I’d love to listen to them in the car much to the annoyance of my parents. I didn’t quite know what electronic music was then but somehow I always just gravitated towards it.

Cyclic Defrost: What motivated you to want to get involved?

Myst Mach: I think it was curiosity and boredom. I had FL Studio and decided to just try it out because of its vocoder, but before that I’d always muck around on whatever computer programs I could download — especially if they were creative ones like video editors or music, just trying out anything I could really.

Cyclic Defrost: What have been turning points in developing a sound?

Myst Mach: Initially I went from recreating other sounds thinking it should be warm, retro, analog, this and that and nothing else but now I think it defeats the purpose of electronic music. I want to look to the future instead of rehashing things because I want to create my own world that I can escape to and live comfortably in. Another thing that I’ve grown to add is a lot of juxtaposition, like metal clangs and soft pads or harsh noise and Eurodance vocals. I love how it all comes together and meets in the middle as instruments. The contrast fits beautifully.

Cyclic Defrost: Is there a specific instrument, hardware or software that is central to your compositions?

Myst Mach: I use VCV rack and Ableton mostly but hardware wise lately I’ve gravitated toward portable instruments like the Organelle, the Roland SP404 and JD-08. I’m generally a huge fan of ’90s Rompler sounds because it can add a very ethereal, futuristic sound like a forest being left to grow while the city tech becomes harmoniously integrated into it which is my ideal world, I love that sound, and when I used to have a studio set up I used the Korg M1, Roland JV2080 and a Waldorf Blofeld. Nowadays I’m confined to a laptop due to my living situation

Cyclic Defrost: Music is clearly personally vital for you, but what role do you see that it has in communities?

Myst Mach: The role I see music play is one of connection and I feel it’s somewhat vital when it comes to rural communities. I hear people I know and meet telling me that they become so separated from everyone just due to the sheer fact that there’s nothing to do, and that’s something I’ve felt myself over and over again living in one, and it hits particularly heavy as a trans person out here in the sticks. Music (and art in general) serve a great purpose in that it’s something we’ve used as a method of communication for millennia. You really see that once you’re at something like a rave or a drag night, everyone just goes nuts with euphoria. As individuals our pain and suffering is with us but together there’s a sense of “everything is going to be okay, I feel safe”. That’s if it’s done properly.

Although from what I’ve seen where I live, rural communities aren’t harnessing that enough, only when they think it’ll make them money in some way, in my area it’s usually through tourists. Otherwise people here are left settling for scraps, pretty much doing whatever they can good or bad because their brain needs it, because it’s something and in a lot of cases it usually turns ugly pretty quickly with people resorting to abuse of many kinds. It’s terrifying to watch.

Through music people have a form of expression. Something that helps process everything going on in their mind because, no matter how much you try to depersonalise it, it’s still you who makes it and it feels good to make something. However, one person’s hands can’t carry everything. Building a community requires everyone coming together to help however they can.

Cyclic Defrost: Has being queer influenced your music? 

Myst Mach: It’s been a process of development. I used to stand behind the decks, hanging my head down & doing nothing, but once I came out I wanted to do more. So I’ve incorporated costumes and ways to interact with the audience.

For the most part, my performance is a way of — it sounds cheesy but — expressing myself. I got influenced by John Waters movies, his trilogy of trash. As gross as they are, his main theme is to own yourself. It means a lot to me as someone who has grown up queer in a regional community.

My influences were always jungle and noise musicians, but a major one for me was Sophie. In the 2010s she was making music that was so futuristic. That was something profound at that time. It made me want to envision a future to work towards, even if that future didn’t come true I’d still be happy that I at least imagined it.

My live show doesn’t entail much technically, but I try to make it a performance. I do things like get dressed up and act out elements while DJ-ing. A lot of it comes from drag, which I’ve learned from my friends. Drag has a power that mesmerises you. It’s a charm that’s a beautiful thing to witness and I wanted to capture that through DJ-ing. I’d like to get to a point where I can do that live with electronic equipment.

I love doing gigs in regional areas. A lot of the queers here moved away because it was too isolating for them. I’m sort of the last one here and my partner and I will probably move away at some point. If I moved away I’d definitely come back to do gigs, because the response has been overwhelmingly positive. So many people say how much they appreciated seeing something different.

I’ve also had queer people find me and tell me that my visibility as a trans person has helped them become more comfortable in being themselves. It’s really heartwarming to hear something like that because it makes me think that queer people can survive anywhere. No matter how lonely it gets there’s always someone out there, and that makes me feel like there’s hope.

You can find Myst Mach’s Soundcloud here. and Bandcamp here.


About Author

Living in regional Australia led Jason Richardson to sample landscapes instead of records.