Immersive music that activates the senses | Interview with Flocks

Balancing between electronika, nu jazz and instrumental rock, Flocks is a band that challenges the listener. With an experimental touch and uncoventional songwriting, the trio composes immersive music that activates the senses. Listen our discussion below.

Describe your sound in three words please!

​Rich, Crisp, & Gripping

You describe yourselves as “humans making digital music” We’d love to learn more on this idea and the balances in the coming together of organic and technologically produced sound.

Programmed electronic music is one of our biggest influences. As instrumentalists, real time interpretation is the way in which we respond when we express our art. We are excited by the challenge of translating those sorts of heavily produced textures into something that can be played live with instruments.

Up until this point, most of our output has been dedicated to reinterpreting those produced sounds and techniques in the live band setting, but we are currently experimenting with different ways of actually integrating those effects and techniques into our compositions and recordings.

Your music gives us the feeling that everything you compose has to be passed through multiple compressors and effects in general. If you had to choose one effect (analog or digital) from yoursignal chain, which one would it be?

We love everything from Sound Toys, but in particular we use a LOT of delay. So, we’d have to go with the Echo Boy. We also re-amp most of our sounds after recording them.

You released your debut album almost 2 years ago. How has your music developed over this time?

Since the release of that album, we have introduced a guitarist/bassist, Stephen, into the band. Being that we write as a group, this addition had a huge effect on our sound. Not only did it introduce a whole new set of influences, but it changed our performance capabilities and instrumentation. Over those two years we’ve learned so much about production, audio effects, and how we can use the studio to shape our compositions. One other element to note is that the first album was written and created in the studio before we played a single show. But now, after two years of live performance, our songs have had the opportunity to develop live, which has influenced our recording processes.

Many of your songs sound as if they could perfectly accompany an interactive installation (we’re thinking Luna and Grammar King for example) while others have a different ambience (see Avocado and Mouthful) however they blend together perfectly. Could you elaborate a bit on your creative process?

We appreciate that! We think they’d be cool in collaboration with an art installation as well. In our own minds, we don’t actually make a distinction between songs like Luna/Grammar King and songs like Mouthful/Avocado. To us, they all exist naturally – as a product of our combined tastes.

Our creative process is quite varied. A song may begin with a beat or voice memo one of us will send, and then we’ll take turns finishing each other’s ideas. We also improvise regularly together, and this oftentimes becomes the impetus for the start of compositions. Other times, one of us will flesh out all the layers, and then we’ll practice interpreting the sounds together live.

Since we make primarily instrumental music, we are free to interpret emotions and textures that are often hard to express in a concrete, verbal way. We work hard to make sure the songs have a compelling narrative or arc and focus on the congruence of energy we feel they express. (Also, all three of us are EXTREMELY opinionated and love obsessing over the tiniest details.)

At this point it is time to ask about your major influences which we guess might come from different genres?

You’re correct in that assumption! We love many types of music. While we all have a wide ranging set of influences individually, some of our current biggest influences include James Blake, Mark Guiliana,BIGYUKI, Jojo Mayer & NERVE, Sampha, Taylor McFerrin, Deantoni Parks, Ian Chang, Kendrick Lamar, Louis Cole, Thundercat, Noname, Smino, Rafiq Bhatia, tUnE-yArDs, Deerhoof, and the list goes on!

You have been vocal about BLM and we’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter as people living in the USA and perhaps the role of music in this context, if any.

The systemic inequality that Black people in the US face today is abhorrent and unacceptable. We believe that the BLM movement is vital to the liberation of Black people and we stand in complete solidarity with all who pursue restorative justice and equity. As not only artists who have a public platform, but white people as well, we feel it is imperative to use our collective voice to bring attention to the urgent threat of white supremacy and the insidious ways it permeates all aspects of our society.

Music has historically been a central codifying component of revolution. It has often functioned as both a call-to-arms and a healing balm in times of suffering. Music also has this enormous potential to bring attention to the injustices that do exist, and express them in a multitude of ways that only art can.

What are your plans for the future?

We’re currently deep in the writing and recording process for our second full length album, as well as a collaborative album with a few of our favorite Cincinnati based rappers. We are also very excited to return to live performance, and we look forward to touring these new projects extensively once it is possible.

We’re a relatively young band and feel that we’re just beginning to enter new territory compositionally. We’d like to keep exploring both our musical possibilities as a trio and in collaboration with a variety of other artists.

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