Photo Credit: Clint Lofkrantz
Based out in London, three piece noise pop group Flowers recently performed in the United States for the first time ever at New York City Popfest 2013. Surprising the crowd at The Bell House in Brooklyn, New York the trio blasted the stage with their sprawling guitars, booming percussion and epic vocals. Clearly, as the crowd was awestruck there was a looming chemical between the trio that made their music sound effortless. So effortless that they have recently signed a deal with New York-based indie label Kanine Records (home to Eternal Summers, Beach Day, Chairlift, and many others).
And although the trio has only released a 7", there's much more coming from the band. Soon enough their bedroom noise will expand as they begin to work on their new album.
How long have you guys been together as a band now? How did you meet?
We've been gigging since last September, so about 9 months now. I met Sam and Jordan at the end of last April... I answered an ad Sam put on Gumtree (sort of like Craigslist) looking for a singer. The guys met very briefly at college years ago, and Sam remembered that Jordan had been a good drummer then, so he found him again when he was trying to find people for Flowers.
I've heard you all live together. Spending so much time together must be stressful, how do you keep from killing each other?
Yes, we do... It's weirdly un-stressful though! We all get along very well. When we first met, we were all in different cities, and I was the only one in London, but Sam was longing to move back, and Jordan wanted to move to somewhere more lively, and we felt like such good friends so quickly that after about a week of knowing them, I suggested they both move in with me here. It made practising a whole lot easier, and it was just a lot of fun too. Still is!
Your first show in the states was performing in New York for New York City Popfest. How as that experience? How was the crowd in comparison to your usual London gigs?
The experience and the crowd were absolutely amazing... We were a little worried before we started playing, as I was coming down with what turned out to be a throat infection, which isn't ideal for singing, and we were using mostly rented equipment, which was a little dodgy and sounded so different to what we use at home, and the pedals we'd brought to use with Sam's guitar couldn't work as someone had lost our adapter earlier that night! We're usually very particular about using our own equipment, because there are just three of us, usually just vocals, drums and one guitar, so we can easily sound kind of thin or imbalanced with the wrong equipment. But at the end of the first song, everyone started cheering and we just had the best time. We met such incredibly lovely people there too, as well as catching up with the incredibly lovely people we already knew there! In comparison to our London gigs, I'd say the crowd definitely went wilder between songs. Usually we get a few whoops or whistles but mostly applause in the UK, but our gig in New York made us feel like rock stars for a moment or something! Everyone cheered so much. It was a really lovely and surreal feeling.
You've opened for the legendary Young Marble Giants, how did that come about?
We don't know, because Stuart Moxham can't remember! Basically, the gig itself came about because Stuart had asked us to be the first band to record in his new studio, after hearing some demos of ours that he'd found (somehow - that's the part he can't remember!). He really liked our music when we played for him, and we got on really well, so he asked us to support YMG after that. We thought maybe he'd found Flowers through Sam, because Stuart had met him when Sam's old band, The Notes, played a gig with YMG in France on Sam's birthday! But Stuart didn't remember meeting Sam before until a while after we met him as Flowers, so none of us have any idea of how he found us, though we're very glad he did!
You've recently signed to Kanine Records in the U.S. and Fortuna Pop in the U.K. With Fortuna Pop, you're surrounded by a slew of more indie pop/twee leaning bands whereas Kanine has a much more ecclectic line up. Do you see any crossover between the two audiences?
Well, Sean at Fortuna POP! and Lio at Kanine both like all sorts of bands, but they both seem to really like ours, luckily for us! So hopefully audiences will share the same crossover in taste that Lio and Sean do.
There's also been a resurgence of indie pop, twee or pop in general within the last few years on labels like Slumberland, Cloudberry, Fortuna Pop and Elefant. Where do you see yourself in relation to that scene. Do you consider yourself to be indiepop, or do you prefer not to be pigeonholed into one category.
It's a lovely experience being in the indiepop scene, as you couldn't get a friendlier or more enjoyable one, and there are loads of great bands too. But it does feel odd in a way, as at the moment a lot of the newer indiepop bands seem to be doing twee pop music, so live we're sort of the odd ones out... We're pretty noisy! And our songs aren't all typical, happy pop in terms of lyrics, although the ethic of the songs (short, simple and hopefully catchy), is definitely pop. But I can see why people have put us in the indiepop scene, because the idea of writing sometimes angry or harsh or despairing words over the most happy, pretty music is just what indiepop was when it first came about, the contrast, and doing everything ourselves here at home certainly goes along with the DIY sounds of the likes of Sarah Records' bands. But we love all sorts of music, and we'd love to play for different people too... Regardless of scenes we just would love to play to any crowd who might enjoy what we do... We hope they will!
Live you guys have an incredible sound. It's big, it's loud, and bombastic - more so than even your initial 7" on Cloudberry Records. How do you plan to translate this into your future recordings?
We gave lots of songs to Roque at Cloudberry to choose from for that 7", as we had at least fifty or sixty written by then already. Roque picked the more light, pop-py sounding ones, as that fits best with his label and audience, and that set of songs went well together. But yes, we have lots of noisy songs! We're only used to recording all our own stuff at home, like we did for that 7", and that's how we've recorded our single for Fortuna POP! too, but for the album we're looking at ways we can record in studios and with different people to make a bigger sound. We can't record using our real amps here at home because the room isn't right, and also our neighbours might kill us, but using a studio we can turn up the amps loud and get the natural distortion we get live. And reverb, as always, makes everything bigger.
Rachel's voice is also very powerful and out front live - a departure from contemporary indiepop's aesthetic of buried or atmospheric vocals. Is there any wish to translate this into future recordings? Or would you think separating what the live sound vs. the recorded sound is important?
At the moment, in our home recordings, my voice tends to sit in the mix on the same level as the guitar and drums. We like the idea of a wall of sound, with the drums in the bass end, the guitar making a huge noise in the middle and me somewhere on the top, but nothing overpowering anything else. Live, the sounds seem to separate out more, so I definitely have the top end of range to myself and my voice comes across more. Recording wise we just want to make the best sound we can for each song, as we try to do live. We won't ever be able to exactly replicate our recorded songs live, and if we did try to we'd play a much more stale set, as we'd be constantly thinking what we SHOULD sound like, so I think we'll just keep trying to make the best live sound we can, and the best recorded sound we can, even if they have their differences.
What's the songwriting process for you guys?
Well, Sam and I do all the songwriting. We tend to write and record at the same time... Sam will write a drum beat, and then a guitar part, and while he's playing it he records it. I listen to him play and write a melody line and words, and usually by the time he's finished recording his guitar I'm ready to record my vocals, and then we sit down with what we've got and work out what to add or change until it's done. The whole process usually takes about an hour or so, sometimes less, when we do it like that, and then over the next few days we'll listen to it and tweak it a bit when we feel like it. Sam's at the controls with the recording as he's very savvy with that sort of thing, but we go through the whole process together, and when he's got to concentrate on fixing protools or something I'll make us tea to try and feel less useless!
With an ever growing fan base in Europe and now the U.S. what are your future plans? Has an album already been in the process of being recorded? Or just more touring?
We've got our versions of the songs for the album recorded, and we're starting to record in the studio with an aim to have all the recording done at the end of the summer. We're also doing about a show a week, around Europe or in London mostly, until we come back to New York again in October!
What other contemporary London bands do you feel a kinship with musically? American bands?
Well, in terms of who we feel our music draws parallels with, a contemporary London band would be Hatcham Social, who write incredibly catchy pop songs but with wonderful, perfectly chosen lyrics. They sound very different to us in a way, but their ethic is very similar to ours, I think. An American band would HAVE to be The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart... THEY are an indiepop band akin to the very first indiepop bands. We feel so lucky and like we're living in some endless dream, because both bands are ones we've always looked up to, admired, and sang and danced to countless times, but they've now both turned around, as Stuart Moxham did, and said they really like us too! We can't believe it!
Watch Flowers perform for New York City Popfest 2013 at The Bell House in Brooklyn, New York below:
(video courtsey of BlearyEyedBrooklyn.com)
Stream the four songs from their When You Lie EP below:
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