The Reverie Machine is a Portland-based band led by vocalist and ordained minister Meghan Yates, who says that her spiritual life greatly informs how she creates. Her band released its debut record “Not By Blood,” in October. The album is home to 11 lyrically rich and aurally complex tunes, anchored by Yates’ voice that rises up from an infinite abyss of ancient wisdom. Find the band online at reveriemachine.com, on Facebook and on Spotify, and purchase “Not By Blood” at Bandcamp and Amazon.
The Reverie Machine formed in 2010, and its core members are Yates on vocals, guitar and tape loops; her husband, Mordechai Rosenblatt, on bass, guitars, piano and vocals; and Elliot Heeschen on drums, percussion, organs and vocals. GO caught up with Yates for a virtual cup of tea and some scintillating chat.
Why the name The Reverie Machine?
The name came through a process of looking at what each of us brought to the project. I am both full of reverie and wonderment and a song-making machine. My band truly reflects these qualities too. We work really hard to make good music, and we love what we do.
Why is the album called “Not By Blood?”
The name came from the track “Boy with a Story,” and the full lyric is, “I’m related not by blood, but by water to the body of these reflections ” The album deals directly with my severe and unusual childhood, and what has brought me joy amidst much turmoil and loss. The title refers to being related to a larger family, which includes my blood relations yet honors all of the folks who have contributed to my well-being and success.
Do you have a favorite song on the record? If so, which one and why?
I have to say that “Lady of the Sea” does it for me. The way the textures were handled and the production serve the song in a way that gives me chills. I am also most attached to the content, which touches on the death of my father, who was a fisherman and who ultimately was most in love with the ocean.
I also love the hope “Ran Hard” provides. The song feels like a homecoming — and I love the way (trumpet player) Mark Tipton’s part interplays with my vocals at the end. Recording that song opened me up to a whole new way of singing.
What’s your songwriting process like? What inspires and informs it?
My songwriting process is possibly the most honest display of how I function from moment to moment. I gather impressions and charged words and storylines, and after it all collects and builds enough pressure, I eventually sit down and wait for the music to come through. I am most concerned with naming the more subtle aspects of the human experience, and I often achieve this through being honest about my own experiences.
At some point, it gets to be bigger than one person, and I love that about music. There’s something that is conveyed beyond the words, yet if you rest just on what is said, you can still be satisfied.
When did you start singing?
I have always been singing. I was a shy and awkward kid who didn’t have any friends — so I read and I sang. I began mimicking great singers like Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison and Julie Andrews. Then I moved into a serious love affair with jazz. Then I found Tori Amos and Bjork, and that got mixed up with Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading.
I eventually began writing my own songs. I think I started in fifth grade. I wrote mostly a capella until 2004, when I picked up the guitar. My father was a great blues player; self-taught and brilliant. He was always pressuring me to pick the guitar up, and I just couldn’t see myself playing it. I liked to mess around with the piano, mostly. I have dabbled with other instruments, but nothing called out to me except singing.
When I finally picked up the guitar, I fell in love with it. It felt natural, and I was able to write much more complex music and felt more confident as a performer with accompaniment. It’s scary to always sing a capella. Everything is exposed and raw. I love that, though. I love relying on something that I always have with me.
What’s next for the band?
We are working on getting the next body of work ready for recording. The sound is a bit different — more vocal, simple and chant-like. We are working towards having another release sometime next summer/fall.
Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at: