ELECTRONIC music pioneer and Ultravox founder, John Foxx has joined forces with director Juliet Forster and playwright Neil Duffield to stage next month's world stage premiere, by York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre, of E M Forster’s chilling classic short story The Machine Stops which predicted and explored our increasingly every day, intricate relationship with technology and is as relevant today as it was when it was first written in 1909. The soundtrack has been composed by Foxx with analogue synth specialist Benge.

How did the offer come to get involved in this project?

Coincidence, as always – a mutual friend introduced me to Juliet Forster, who is director at York Theatre Royal, and we got to discussing her new project. Complete, quiet dedication. Always impressive.

The Machine Stops is a childhood favourite book of yours. Did that put you under more pressure to create the soundtrack?

Of course. You feel it's a part of your life.

Were you given a free hand to compose or were there guidelines given by the director?

Well, Juliet knows my music – so I felt I was trusted. Then it went to and fro for discussion, of course. Juliet knows precisely what the production needs, and that's always good for everyone involved. It was also an opportunity to work with Benge again – He's one of the best producer/musicians I've ever worked with.

You have a reputation for operating at the cutting edge of music thanks to projects like Underpass, Exponentialism and working with John Cage. Where did you look for inspiration this time?

Technology – I love it when it all goes wrong – which it always does. Driverless cars would make a good comedy series at this point. Drones, too, but they're far more sinister.

It's always fascinating too, when technologies link and create unforeseen consequences – drones and phones and GPS – add driverless HGV – just imagine what some unbalanced hacker could do with that lot on a busy motorway.

We also get far too reliant on certain systems, then its a disaster when they go pear-shaped. Imagine how it would be if supermarkets packed in, or the electricity went off. Or a virus made digital technology quit. Examining all this is really what science fiction is for. It can have a very useful function as a timely warning.

How was EM Forster, in 1909, able to predict a future world where our everyday lives interact with technology such as email etc?

Isn't that the wonder of this story? How could he possibly have foreseen all that? When I first read it in 1964, it seemed very prescient, but the internet hadn't happened then. When I re-read it, I was astonished how accurately he'd described that isolation disguised as communication the internet has smuggled into our lives.

Is it possible for the stage adaptation to portray the same impact as the book. Most adaptations have to sacrifice or amend parts of the plot.

Oh, I've learnt that theatre is capable of conveying almost anything. And the sound work is certainly pretty big and violent at times, as well as tender and emotional. You aim for the full spectrum – to make the whole experience as immersive as possible.

Will you be taking part in the world premiere? If not, what are you like as an audience member when others are performing your music?

We'll be there, I'm looking forward being in the audience for a change – as a performer you never get to see the show.

Are you happy with being rated by Allmusic as the genius behind other people's recordings or is that an unfair assessment?

Oh, I'm happy with all that. I set out earnestly from art school and got kidnapped by electronic music. That was about fifty years ago. I thought I'd give it a year then get on with the real job of being a painter. Great fun.

What's next ?

Cup of tea and a shortbread biscuit.

The Machine Stops runs from Friday, May 13 to Saturday, June 4 at York Theatre Royal Studio.

In a dystopian world where humans have retreated far underground, Kuno alone questions their now total dependency on technology to live and communicate with each other. But in his struggle to break out, can he reach the Earth’s surface before the Machine stops? E. M. Forster is best known for his novels, but his short story masterpiece is a chilling exploration of our increasingly complex relationship with technology.

Performances at 7.45pm (matinees at 2pm on Thursdays and 2.30 on Saturdays)

Tickets: £16–£14. Box Office: 01904-623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk