What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
Flowers/Ghosts&Echoes is an audio-visual project based in The Hague, The Netherlands. The group consists of the Greek-Scottish guitar player James Alexandropoulos-McEwan, the Portuguese guitarist Gonçalo Oliveira, and the Swedish visual artist Felix Bodin.
The three of them met at Felix’s house on a Friday evening. They had a meal with his Felix’s wife Elsa and his 2-year-old daughter Una. After Una was put to sleep, Elsa graciously accepted to interview the band – using the questions Last Day Def provided them with – and helped guide the conversation. The four of them sat down, and started recording the audio of the conversation, and eventually – after a few deviations from the original intention of the conversation – they got round to the questions:
James: I think a brief bio is good.
Elsa: ok a brief bio then
Felix: That’s what I’d prefer
James: [to Gonçalo] Well we started with you and me just making noise with the guitars. I think part of the point of it was that we got to do all the annoying things that we like doing on the guitar that we couldn’t really do in our…
Gonçalo: school, yeah
J: yeah, in our studies, because, yeah we both studied music and so that was an escape from our slightly more… well I did composition but, I didn’t play guitar in it very much and you…
Gonçalo: I was in the very strict jazz world in that school. So, yeah it was an outlet for all these things, the more experimental side of the guitar, the noisy side. And we started playing and we developed the group, we started exploring a bit more subtleties in it and a bit… I don’t know, it grew into something more specific and then at one gig we met Felix and he saw us play and it grew into something even more specific…
F: yeah, at that point I had in development a visual instrument, which at the time had no sound. But when I heard you play it was like ‘this is the sound for my visual instrument!’. And I think at the first rehearsal the three of us had the same experience: that the sort of marriage of the visual world that I was exploring and the audio world that you were exploring were about some of the same sort of themes and topics, but explored from different mediums.
G: yeah pretty much, yeah
J: I don’t remember the first rehearsal but I think it did click well quickly.
F: I think we still have a video clip from it on our facebook banner.
J: Oh that’s from our first rehearsal ?
G: It is yeah
J: Really ? ok…
G: It works really well.
J: [to Elsa] do you feel we have answered properly?
J: do you have more questions for us? [laughs]
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
E: you’ve only had one release right ?
J: we’ve only had one release so far, and… well one of the problems we’ve been having with this group is that because, it is by definition audio-visual…
F: yeah in its current form
J: …yeah that’s another thing, you’re right… so actually the release we have was originally intended just to be audio
G: we didn’t even know Felix then
J: and we recorded that over a year ago and a friend of ours, Edvards Broders, recorded us very nicely, but we spent about a year going back to it and editing it and we only finally got happy with it about a couple months ago or so?
G: something like that
J: and we had our good friends Pandelis Pilavios and Giorgos Kravvarits from Polyscope really help us with their label to get it out. But what we are trying to figure out is for later releases how to release things that are audiovisual and that show the project in its full capabilities
G: we’ve also been trying to bring these recordings that are before Felix closer… well to try to include his part of it, his take, his visuals into it
E: How do you do that?
F: I mean, it’s a different approach, but we have experimented with me playing to your [speaking to Gonçalo and James] prerecorded audio tracks instead of it being an improvised thing that I play with, which is really different. So it has its qualities but it is a really different headspace to get into. So one idea is to try this and make sort of music videos for a bit, or something like that, for some tracks. So that is one idea we’re exploring
G: but also it adds this potential of exploring – like you had been saying – all different kinds of spaces and so on. Because the music is already prerecorded the visuals can have also a sort of freedom that is not specific to one room
F: yeah it would be interesting to try the visuals in different locations and see also what the context of that location adds or brings so it makes it more like a video production. It opens up interesting things, but it is a different world.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
J: do you want to start Felix because I’m actually curious ?
G: we’ve never really talked about that I think
F: this is always a weird topic for me cause the way I store [laughs] and keep information and catalogue it is not by artist with names or works with names, it has some other organization to it, so this kind of like namedropping comes really unnatural to me. That is not how I refer to my influences.
E: but could it be a genre? Or like an instrument or a picture or a visual thing?
E: …or an idea or thought or… ?
F: so that’s a better way of approaching it and as an idea I’m very interested in reduction and finding the core of things. Like taking something very seemingly complex and trying to explore what is at the heart of it. With this instrument it is a dialogue on that theme I think in a way
J: but then there must also be aesthetic influences? Or not so much?
F: it would be abstract… and abstract art I think…
J: Picasso! You look like a Picasso fan. I’ve heard that he is a good one [laughs]
E: [jokingly] now he gets intimidated cause you name-dropped. [James laughs] Don’t drop a name !
F: let it just float around [James and Gonçalo laughing]. Em… no to be honest it’s a really hard question for me to answer because I don’t think in this way and maybe it sounds super… I don’t know how it sounds… but I don’t consume and catalogue my contemporaries in that way. I don’t think I could name one artist that I… it makes me really weird to talk about it like this…
E: yeah, your approach is maybe not influenced from the music or influenced by music, it’s like a thought, like with an idea that you come into this and you approach them with your instrument and their sound
G: well you once talked about just this simple idea, well, I think you were talking about a situation where you were looking at how the sun rays reflected on the water and then you found that interesting and made you explore that … I don’t know if I’m remembering that wrong?
F: yeah so that’s sort of the story behind the instrument. But that came from exploring the phenomena of this warped reflection and then it is like the instrument built its self, it’s been telling me what to do. And then I guess I could know other artists that work in similar fashion but I don’t think I find that so interesting [laughs]
E: [to James and Gonçalo] how about you guys?
J: well… [to Felix] but actually that is interesting, because I think we name drop to each other [pointing to Goncalo] other musicians that we like a lot. But I don’t think we’ve ever heard you mention one, so I think I was curious
F: but that’s my big secret maybe, that I don’t… like… that I don’t really like music [James and Gonçalo laugh]
J: … or art or people … [laughs]
F: yeah but like… I normally don’t listen… like, five years… or a few years ago I was like, because everyone around me has been like, they probably like have a career in music or music is their biggest biggest interest, like all my friends, but I never really had gotten into it. And a few years ago I was like ‘no actually I can just say it as it is, I don’t really like music’ [James laughing] like I find it like it could be… [Felix starts laughing too]
J: Really? But every time I come to your house there is music playing!
F: It isn’t like the expression that makes me like ‘whhh!’ [Felix mimes a position of being energised and passionate]
G: It’s not what drives you to express yourself
F: No. It can be… I mean there are songs of course that are super good I think, but normally like I don’t even listen … like it’s quiet or I listen to podcasts or …
J: I can kind of picture that about you [ Felix laughs loudly] but I’m still horrified to hear it coming out of your mouth [ Elsa and James laugh ]
G: well but that’s interesting because in the same way that you say that maybe I like, I don’t know let’s say movies or whatever but I would never even consider ever making one to express a point of view or anything
J: but to Felix it sounds like he’s going ‘if I don’t ever even watch I movie I don’t really care’. [ Goncalo laughs ]. [To Felix] That’s almost the way you are describing music
G: nah, I don’t think so
F: I mean, that idea is not super crazy to me, to be honest…
G: to not ever listen to music ?
F: I mean it wouldn’t like… [ James gasps in mock exasperation and Elsa laughs ]
J: I need a moment to go cry in the bathroom for a while… [Elsa jumps in]
E: [to James and Goncalo] I think you should tell us about your… [James laughs] [Felix jumps in]
F: but to close it off meeting you guys and practicing music from a place that I have more control and that is not trying to play an instrument or coming into it in a ‘normal’ way, but coming into it from this weird instrument that I’ve constructed myself, it’s created a whole way into getting interested by and in music that I’ve never had before so I think it’s actually… I’ve never been…
E: could it be a confidence thing that you feel like you’re like somehow able to understand this because you are a big part of it ?
F: not really… I think it is that what we do is so abstract in a way, so that we can talk about it and the words could be like ‘texture’ or like ‘layers’ or ‘body’ or things… which I then understand from what I am doing, but you [to Goncalo and James] understand it from what you’re doing and it sort of relates: we are talking about the same thing but I have no idea what texture in music really is… but still we can have this conversation which is, well like I’ve always felt like excluded from music as something that I don’t get. But with this I have another way in. So this is maybe like my first proper good encounter with like … music… which is super nice!
G: it’s difficult now to give any sort of decent answer… without name-dropping [James and Goncalo laugh]
F: so well yeah [laughing] what are your references [to James and Gonçalo]
E: yeah exactly what are your references?
G: I think it’s impossible not to name drop a little bit
F: and why not, you know ?
J: I mean I’m forgetful with artists but I often think about some of the things I hear in our music. [ to Gonçalo ] What is it for you ? what do you think ?
G: what do I think about our music?
E: the influences …
G: I don’t know, lately I’ve been thinking about… maybe it’s a bit too cliché or something, but I think sometimes what we do is maybe sort of ‘trippy’ almost… like at one of our gigs we had, there was someone saying like ‘it sounds like energy’ and something… she said it in this way that sounds kind of ridiculous, but it was kind of more or less close to how I’ve been thinking about it, more like this ball of energy that moves… maybe that’s another way of seeing it…
E: but what would you say is like your influence, like …
G: I mean my influence from… I don’t know, I started playing guitar from the lamest things, even bands like Metallica or something like that, so I can’t exclude that. And there’s also other people nowadays, like I don’t know Thurston Moore I always talk about him… or … you know Bill Frisell and stuff like that, those more let’s say textural players – although those two are already super different to each other – they are very interesting and explore the guitar for what it really has like timbraly, eh… without needing a lot of… I don’t know how to explain it, it’s kind of difficult to explain… but there’s something about those types of players that’s very attractive
J: yeah, I think there’s definitely a fascination with guitar players that like sound, and make something musical out of strange sounds. And I think for a while now we’ve kind of decided that’s what we want to push: allowing the guitars to make strange sounds, and often sounds that we wouldn’t be able to create again easily, but really making the most out of them… so definitely people like Thurston Moore, Bill Frisell… ehm, I don’t know Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham… uhm… who’s the… the English guy that lies his guitar down… I keep forgetting his name… I’m blanking on his name… a, Fred Frith! He does that kind of stuff a lot!
G: a there’s this one player, but he sounds very different though, that guy Derek Bailey… anyway this is already going to the name-dropping part…
J: but the thing that I find interesting is that we sometimes have these bits that… SunO))) comes up a little bit, whereas we never really wanted to do that, and their sound is like ‘angry wall of sound!’, but they have massive amps whereas we use small amps… but I also feel like there’s actually a little bit of a Black Metal influence somewhere in there…
G: I would say so, yeah. I mean I’ve been enjoying a lot of those bands, like the Norwegian… you know Mayhem and stuff like that…
J: [to Gonçalo] which is why you keep wanting to call the tracks, like give them black metal names…
G: I like the aesthetic for some reason, it’s kind of interesting
J: but then I think there’s also like Brian Eno and minimalism and…
G: I guess, yeah
J: for me I definitely think there is, and even some of the classical minimalists.
G: there is also like a lot of post-rock kind of bands and stuff like that, I don’t know even Sigur Rós and stuff like that, although I don’t listen to them that much
E: do you have like a non-music influence ?
G: good question…
J: well I … I see what you mean Felix about how you feel there is a connection between how we do stuff. I think a lot of music I do… it’s about… erm… things that are attractive, but also rough and unclear, and that’s definitely a thing I like, where the surface is a bit rough but underneath there is something beautiful, but you have to work to find it… and then for me there is a thing about creating a world and it is something that slowly moves, and you’re kind of seeing different sides of the same thing… which is another thing that I think is important for a lot of stuff I’ve been trying to do. And I think this group does this and I like that.
E: I think you’re getting into (my) next question a bit… because it could be summarised as ‘how would you describe your sound?’ so the question is…
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
G: I think right away the experience we give live is, I don’t know, at least compared to the bands I know, or musicians or artists… it’s very different. I don’t know, I don’t think there are a lot of bands that provide the same experience.
G: Because we kind of literally create a … [laughs] – not literally obviously – a world that you’re in in that room and you really are now in this space and there is no escaping it. Because of the amps filling up the room and the visuals as well. So I think there is already something about us.
F: I’m thinking also, coming from the visual side, like, how visuals relate to music. It’s often like one leads the other kind of relationship, like you make a music video to a song, or you make music to a like a film score or like it’s quite rarely found that the audio and video are created in the same moment, sort of, that is truly… eh, created alongside one another on equal terms in a way
J: and without being generated by a machine together, that is something we see…
F: yeah because that is like a visual representation of the music, synthesis in a way… and with this having the three human agents that we are, improvising on equal terms, I think that’s… rare…
G: yeah you don’t find that that much
J: I think there are bits like that, but yeah I don’t really know that many…
G: but I mean at this level, because like Felix performs everything he does, he doesn’t like program it or anything like that. You don’t really really find it that much.
J: I mean, I think there are definitely a lot of elements of what we do in other places, like I think a lot of the sounds we do there is in electronic music a lot.
G: yeah with the sounds we do there is a world already that exists.
J: I think there is this kind of world, but maybe there is a different thing to it.
G: I think the world that exists…
E: as a genre ?
G: yeah, that we can kind of relate to, the specifics of what we do and the specifics of how it is the same thing from the visual and the audio – as you are saying Felix – yeah… that maybe is more… yeah… special ? unique ?
J: yeah I think the set up is a very different looking set up … and that’s also why we are still trying to… The difficulties of the project are that we have to answer some questions ourselves a little bit still…
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
F: well the bible of course… [ all laugh ]
J: no! We agreed you wouldn’t say this !
G: the bible… there are those bibles but like the cheats for games, they call it bibles [James laughs]
F: yeah [laughs] like the Super Mario Bible! You have to learn it by heart!
J: so you’re sitting there on the island going ‘if I ever get back home, now I can beat Super Mario!’ [Elsa laughs]
E: [to Goncalo and James] no but let’s start with your favourite albums because I guess you know yours?
G: no, I don’t know… favourite albums ? What would I take to a desert island? That wouldn’t bore me after … I don’t know, that’s very difficult actually
E: what couldn’t you be without ?
G: I don’t know…
J: we are like over-stimulated 21st century people who probably would probably like dive into the water after a while…
G: yeah exactly!
E: You can’t come up with anything?
J: I also… my taste changes all the time.
J: I think the Pixies, erm… but I don’t know which pixies album, probably Doolittle is one that I keep being able to listen to all the time. Erm… La Monte Young’s ‘The Well Tuned Piano’ is this gorgeous minimalist piece, which is also five hours long so I’d get a lot from it… well the thing I’d want to take to a desert island is things I’ve been listening to today, but there’s a chance that in a week I might be looking into something else. So like I’ve been listening to Aesop Rock and El-P and different hip-hop stuff I’ve never discovered before and I’m really into…
G: wow, geez!
J: but I don’t know if that’s a thing that …
E: I always mix up Aesop Rock and Aesop Rocky
F: are they different ?
G: they’re different ?
[Elsa starts demonstrating some Aesop Rocky by singing it]
G: oh it’s not that one? Cause one is kind of lame no? [G, F, and E try and figure out who Aesop Rocky is and who Aesop Rock is …]
J: Aesop Rock is from New York I think, and it’s kind of like alternative hip-hop… from the 2000s onwards…
G: hm… I don’t know favourite albums…
J: Felix what are your favourite albums ?
F: 4:33 by John Cage !
J: oh no !! [Goncalo laughs] [James pretends to cry]
J: [mockingly] ‘eh, technically I don’t think that’s an album’ [Felix and James laugh]
J: [to Felix] do you have any albums you would … ?
F: in my life I’ve bought maybe three albums [ James and Goncalo laugh ] it’s eh… Michael Jackson ‘History’ [James laughs], like a double cd Beastie Boys album that I don’t know the name…
G: that’s a good one!
J: take the Beastie Boys with you, we’ll listen to it if you don’t!
F: and then, erm…
G: there is an album actually by Thurston Moore that is like quite pretty, it’s a solo album he plays… well not solo, he has violins and things on it.
J: so you’d take that one with you…?
G: I don’t know, maybe …
J: to have some chilled out stuff on a desert island … ?
F: but actually now, like learning about the jazz standards, which is actually like a new concept to me, I really like this idea of having this, like, base catalogue of like the standards, what is it, the American…
J: so you’d like to take some of those
F: yeah like study it maybe and try to…
G: take some Cole Porter music! Yeah I don’t know which albums I would take. Let’s say yeah, just for the sake of it, Demolished Thoughts by Thurston Moore and … [laughs] a… I don’t know …
J: could you add Ornette Coleman’s … ?
E: okay, say an album, a movie, and a book each, and then we can get on to the next question. You don’t have to say three each for each of you… like do you know any books ? [all laugh]
J: I think I’ve owned… three books in my life [laughs]. I’m a slow reader… I like…
[Elsa breaks down into laughter]
G: I’m also a slow reader… [Felix also laughs] well I could take book I’m trying to read [everyone laughs loudly]
J: and you’ll finish it on the desert island
G: I was trying to read this book, it’s called, ‘Beyond Talent’, about how to make it in the music industry [everyone laughs loudly] so maybe I can take that [laughing continues]
E: yes take that, yes do
G: and yeah there was another one I didn’t finish… yeah that was Nietzsche, but it sounds erm… too hipster if I say that…
E: and you didn’t finish it, so why would you take it to a desert island ?
G: so I finally finish it. I’d have all the time in the world ! [all laugh]
E: that’s good for slow readers, to have one book on a desert island… okay let’s skip this question
J: no wait, Felix do you have a book that you would take… or a movie … ?
J: oh come on Felix !
F: yeah I know I have them, but I just don’t have them like in my head… erm… well I’ve been reading a book over the summer, which is called ‘From Bacteria to Bach and Back’
F: which is like about mind theory and how our cognition has evolved over time, or… well theories about how cognition works, and cognition theory. Which is my first ‘dipping the toe in the water’ of this science but it’s super interesting… So that then sort of leads to evolutionary biology and then like understanding like what Darwin actually found, like what the evolutionary process actually means, so that’s what I’m reading at the moment… and it’s super interesting!
E: and how would that help you on a desert island ?
[ James laughs ]
F: actually I don’t know, maybe it would be pretty helpful! I don’t know…
E: just take a book on how to make a fire or how to survive [all laugh]
F: a! That’s the other way to erm…
F: yeah approach this question
J: I was thinking though that all the books or films I really like are super depressing so I think on a desert island like reading some of these… I was thinking like Paul Auster but all his characters go insane, and I think that would be… [Gonçalo interrupts]
G: I think I know a book I want to take !
E: a !
G: or erm… which movie [Elsa laughs] ‘Dumb and Dumber’! Jim Carrey!
J: oh no [laughs]
E: yeah good
G: it would make me happy all the time! I’d be on a desert island but there is still someone stupider than me!
J: then I want ‘In The Loop’
F: and I want ‘Transformers’
J: [in shock] No ! [Goncalo and Elsa laugh]
F: the first ‘Transformers’ is the greatest movie ever! I think it’s super nice.
J: okay… I would watch in with you then… Are we on different desert islands or the same desert island ? [Elsa laughs]
F: do you have a preference ?
E: yeah what would you prefer ?
J: I don’t know… yeah cause maybe if I made a bad choice I could borrow some of your stuff maybe
E: yeah… ok I think you kind of answered the next question too but you can get another shot at it if you want to
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
J: we haven’t really done much studio as all three of us. We’ve done bits of studio and actually we recently got to record at Grawa Studio with Joao Sousa in Portugal, which was very cool! We decided to record audio as well as the visuals, which is new for us in this sort of way… and Joao is really cool to work with. But we are still going through the material and trying to decide the best way to present it, how to get the audio and video to work together, how to edit them… we’ll see… so we haven’t totally properly figured out a studio configuration that works for us completely as we are now.
G: I think our group has to be a live performance. I mean the studio is just a documentation of it I think
J: I mean there are some schemes we have that we haven’t realized yet, for getting the music and the visuals out together in an interesting format
F: I mean it could be potentially super interesting to make a more like stage set up and then record not in a studio but on a stage somewhere
G: but it would always be kind of a live setting ? or not necessarily ?
F: the audience is then the difference. In front of an audience or not. Is that the difference between studio and live ?
E: so you’re questioning the dichotomy of studio and stage?
G: well I like both but I think the idea of the project is, I don’t know, as a live thing. I mean like any band I think, I think of this as a thing you do live, especially with the thing of being improvised and everything, it’s something that happens in that moment for those people that are watching
F: yeah, and the studio part of it is more experimentation
G: it’s another side, which is also interesting, but we didn’t explore it as much, as you said
J: but maybe that’s with a visual artist, the studio would be where you have works… you develop the works, whereas maybe as a musician it would be that the rehearsal room is where you develop it and the studio is where you kind of finalise it maybe ? I don’t know…
E: exactly what is a studio ?
J: well but I guess the implication here would be like a recording studio
F: then I say I don’t prefer studios because they are small and dark [james laughs]
J: well they can be small and dark and ugly sometimes, but I like being able to then listen to what I have done myself as a musician in high detail, and I get really fascinated with re-listening to myself… erm… not in a narcissistic way … I just sit there and go ‘how stupid are you? Why would you play that note’ so its fine, I’m allowed to do it and attack myself, it’s healthy [laughs]
F: hm… is that also some sort of narcissism? That you originally might think you are actually better than you actually are ?
J: [laughing] so like start from a place of narcissism and slowly collapse into reality the more I listen to it ?
G: that’s often the case when I play: I’ve had times where I’ve thought I’ve played terribly, and then the recording is actually, you know, at least a little better than it seemed.
J: yeah that type of reflection is interesting…
E: recording music is narcissistic…
G: no I wouldn’t say so
E: to follow his [indicating James]
G: if to listen back to yourself is always narcissistic then I’m incredibly narcissistic
J: no but… you know thinking … or wanting to share something or wanting to have something held down, I think that’s …
F: but I think, at least for me, being live as a visual artist also is a new world for me and I think that parameter is so interesting. To not move things around on a page fifty million times before you have the right thing but instead it’s here now and that’s what sort of counts
E: maybe the difference is if you have an audience and what does like the audience do to your music you think ?
G: I think, first of all, to me it adds this extra layer of anxiety, but it’s not just that, because during the performance it turns into a million things, I’ve been still trying to figure out how to make the best out of it. I don’t think I have yet because I think too much, but erm… I think it changes, yeah, the whole game I think, because in the studio you are super relaxed and then maybe that is positive in some ways but negative in other ways. But live you’re always sharp, which can also have its negative sides, but it definitely adds this extra layer of a thing, like every time I end a gig it’s like this huge release… wow, that sounds terrible
J: no I think that that’s definitely [suddenly starts laughing] [to Goncalo] why does that sound terrible? [all laugh]
E: what’s happening in your head now ?
F: don’t tell us …
J: is that why the floor is wet after we…
J: erm… but, yeah but no I think that doing it in front of people brings in this new intensity, and it can push me into more focused and sometimes interesting things, but it’s also weird that as soon as we finish performing sometimes I come down with like this incredible excitement and adrenaline rush, and some times I come down just like really wanting to hide and not wanting to be around anyone. So that’s something I find very interesting still
F: yeah, and I don’t see them, so…
J: so you’re fine
E: It’s true you don’t see the audience, no
F: yeah and in a way, like I’m so focused, that I don’t really think, like I hear a camera click some times, that’s nice.
J: well for me like as soon as we finish I don’t want to speak to anyone for like 20 – 30 minutes. And as soon as I’m through that I’m desperate for attention, but I need that little pause some times…
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
J: I think Una [Felix and Elsa’s daughter] is always a great addition to any concert experience
G: a yeah, of course
J: so Una is of course…
F: you wanna share any specific …
G: well she cried during our… [James laughs] that’s what you’re talking about right ?
J: no for me it’s funny that when she sees Dad performing she loves going and hugging Dad. And it’s adorable. And it’s kind of interesting that we sit there and kind of start doing our kind of moody abstract thing and Una suddenly goes ‘I want a hug! I’m here, pay attention to me!’ [Elsa laughs] And I think that’s quite great. [to Felix] she’s probably like your biggest fan to the point of like… scary fan which attacks a musician [Felix laughs]
F: yeah the reason you need security at the concert
J: but actually my other, [to Elsa] your hockey stick adventure is another highlight of my concerting!
G: oh yeah that was funny yeah!
E: but it wasn’t really music career related
J: but it was
F: it’s like tour life
J: yeah tour life
G: well okay like I hit the car while we were going to a gig [James and Felix laugh] in Portugal there are probably at least probably two or three stories but that was one… [James and Felix still laughing]. That’s also not really music career, that’s just me like ‘BOOM!’
J: [to Elsa] well but do you want to tell your story about the …
E: erm… no …
J: okay well this was the first time we met you
J: and you were with this adorable little girl who was very hyper and running up and down the train, but we loved her and everyone on the train loved her, and then we’re getting of the train and there’s like guitars and amps and a pram and Una and then you suddenly drop this bag right between the train and the carriage. And the train is just about to go and you like in no time manage to spot a woman sitting next to you with a hockey stick [James laughs] and then I see, well I thought I saw you being given the hockey stick and using it to get the bag, just in time, and leaving. But it turned out you stole the hockey stick and…
E: well no I asked her…
J: and she answered…
E: and she denied me… but I took it. [all laugh]
J: yeah that was a good tour moment
E: yeah that was awesome!
G: more stories ? I don’t know…
E: erm… the story when you guys met, like the show…
G: well it was at Studio Loos [an independent concert/workshop/residency space in Den Haag] and it was this research concert
J: so the idea was that you’d show a bit of what you were working on and then talk about it and open it up to questions, and we thought it would be an interesting thing to try out and do
G: [to Felix] you didn’t ask any questions though? You asked only after the gig?
E: yeah you were probably thinking about ‘how should I approach them after the gig’
F: [to Gonçalo and James] but the question of how do you approach having visuals or not was asked, so that was something sort of that I also was thinking about
G: because we had experiences before with other groups that didn’t work out, and I remember you saying ‘please don’t, you know… say no to…’
J: ‘doing visuals! I want to do visuals’
G: yeah exactly
J: yeah that was very very cool
G: he showed us like videos on his phone of what he saying doing and we were like ‘Jesus Christ!’
J: but I think we didn’t really understand what it was until we saw you in the room with it and then we were like ‘Fuck!’. I think it took us a moment to think ‘what have you done ?!?!’ and then very quickly it seemed to make sense with us. And then the other thing that is surprising actually is how much you guide us in concerts, but without me realizing [James laughs]
G: oh yeah
J: subconsciously he steers us
F: so actually it’s not like improvisation on equal terms, but it’s like [all laugh]
G: [laughing] you’re directing us !
F: yeah you just teamed up with a conductor !
J: but it’s because I spend a lot of time staring at my feet while playing. But I can still sense Felix giving changes with the colours around us. And I go with it instinctively a lot
G: well I try to look at it as much as I can, and even sometimes react quite obviously to what you’re doing, not always but…
E: [to Felix] and will you tell us about your mirror flight story ? Is it funny and unique story ? The security check ?
F: yeah going to Portugal I was really stressing out about how to get the mirror, cause the mirror it’s like in its original version its like 1 by 1 meter bigger, so pretty big
G: the original mirror ?
F: yeah. So I made a more travel-able version that I could roll up, but then the handles are these metal welded handles that I keep with it and I have these weird plastic sheets with them as cases with that, and the idea was to have it as just carry on, like not to check it in. So you roll into security and sometimes you see the actual scan of the thing of your bags… and it looked really, like these handles they looked really like four guns [James laughs] and I was like ‘ok…’ and of course it got sidetracked into this sort of extra security check thing and the security guy was like ‘what are these ? Phone holders?’ [James and Felix laugh] pointing at these, erm, gun-like structures … [laughs] and I said, ‘no it’s an instrument, I’m an ar…’ and I was going to say ‘I’m an artist’, blah blah… ‘doing this and this…’. Before I even had a chance to finish the sentence he was like ‘yeah, yeah fine, you can go, you’re fine’ [all laugh]
E: so any more funny / unique stories?
J: well we’re not as exciting as that…
G: not that I can think of
J: the only other thing that I can think of that the slightly most annoying concert we’ve had was at the… [to Felix] that bar where we played when your sister came to hang out, you know that Swedish bar, and it was weird because the organizer was so excited about us and sent an email like ‘yes! I really want you to play!’ and barely before we got a chance to answer sent again asking us to play, and then we ended up playing like 10 minutes to no one
G: or 15
J: and she did not seem happy at all…
G: yeah we played 10 minutes to people that were chatting on top of it and just passing by drinking their beer, like because this was a club-vibe and a party and we were not … I don’t know what she was thinking that we were but…
F: yeah and then before even like the last note was even finished like decaying, this crazy hard-style like techno ‘boom boom boom boom boom!!’ [Gonçalo laughs] and everyone just started like dance and raving and we were standing there with all our instruments like ‘ok…’
J: but then we got to hang out with your sister and there’s been lots of nice times hanging out with your family
G: I liked hanging out there that day, but…
F: but yeah it was a really weird combination of things, we felt we were very out of place
G: I guess you could talk about all the traveling to Amsterdam and stuff as funny stories… I mean not that I can specify [all laugh] but they are all sort of… or actually I can specify, the last gig we did at OCCII, my trolley was all destroyed and I took …
J: your trolley that carries your amp…
G: yeah, that was all really bad… I was basically dragging my amp along the ground it was all really terrible. So basically I left OCCII like at one or something and then I got home at three-thirty or something like that. It really took me a long time. From Den Haag Holland Spoor station, to my home which normally is a 20 minute walk it took me an hour and a half because of that. That’s not funny for you [all laugh]
J: but it was funny for people on the street watching you ?
G: yeah exactly. Also not funny for me, but for someone, definitely for someone…
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
J: yeah, but that question doesn’t really work for us as such
G: exactly. Well if we talk about the album which one is more unique?
J: okay but by definition like each performance is different and…
G: okay, we could talk about which performance is the best? Maybe that one in… The Grey Space, the last one at the Grey Space?
J: I think one of the things we decided early on is not to have clear fixed pieces because it would stop us from doing other things
E: yeah you don’t have tracks
G: that’s what I’m saying, maybe if there was a performance that clicked the best maybe the Grey Space, the ‘Bands on Tour’, that party kind of thing we played at…
J: yeah that was a concert that went very well !
G: It was good. For the rest, there isn’t really any tracks, if we are talking about the album that is a slightly different thing…
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
F: we are working on and planning for a sort of virtual reality version of the album
F: or like for upcoming recordings to have them distributed in like a VR kind of way, we haven’t exactly figured out how to
J: but we were saying that was our secret plan earlier. I thought we weren’t going to reveal them…
F: yeah well, I think it’s still a good thing to…
G: but we still need to figure out how to do it
F: but I think like it’s an interesting question of like this exploration of audio visual not being only flat videos but being a more immersive kind of thing. I think I’m very interested about how that’s going to work out.
G: I mean there are other dreams, I don’t know if everyone thinks the same, but I’d be interested in seeing even how physically we can expand the group so to speak by… a bigger sound system
J: our presence in the room?
G: exactly, let’s say with a bigger sound system of several amps and speakers throughout the space, if that would work at all, a way of somehow Felix being able to project across a bigger part of the room, I guess better projectors, I don’t know…
J: yeah these are conversations we’ve had many times in the middle of the night after concerts
E: what about future gigs?
G: we are planning a tour in Greece
J: that’s a thing yeah, we wanna do a small tour in Greece, and we want to do a small tour in Sweden. We’ve already done Portugal
E: so yeah you have several gigs planned for next year, and people I guess can watch your website for dates?
G: yeah exactly
F: oh and now is the free question time !
E: well, it’s actually not free, I will charge you for it! [all laugh]
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
J: I think you [to Elsa] should decide on the question.
— The four of them then turned off the recorder to allow Elsa to decide on the free question. They got distracted and started playing Yahtzee. At the end of the game Elsa decided it was too much pressure for her to pick the question. James started googling ‘good questions to ask a musician’ and ‘good questions to ask an artist’, but that proved no help. They eventually together decided on a question and turned on the recorder again:
E: “Felix, can you please explain your instrument?”
Felix: Well I never thought you’d ask! [laughs]. It’s an acrylic sheet of plastic that’s covered by a thin metal film. It’s polished into a very reflective mirror surface, but this mirror is also flexible and bendable. On the back of the mirror I have constructed a handle set up which allows me to bend the mirror both vertically and horizontally so I have control over the bends in both directions. Which means that I can control how the mirror reflects light. Facing into the mirror I have a projector showing projections that comes from software I wrote. The software generates lines of coloured light that sort of walk slowly across the projection area, which is projected on the mirror. As they walk across the ‘projection area’ the mirror reveals all the imperfections and all the distortions that I put into the mirror by bending it. So the reflections in the space become like a mapping of sorts of the imperfections of the mirror. And this is then done with a lot of lines, and the lines can be layered on top of each other. I control the software also a bit from wireless buttons from behind the mirror so I can control density, speed and colour. And all these things in combination allow me to quite precisely control what sort of abstract worlds are bounced off the mirror into the room. And depending on how I bend it the projection can be smaller, say around like a few meters but it could also be super wide so almost spreading behind me so it’s like a one-hundred-eighty degrees reflection. Erm… yeah.
They decided they were happy with Felix’s answer and with the interview, and so turned off the recorder.
Photo credits: Joanna Koziol (1st one), Giorgos Kravvaritis (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
Connect with Flowers/Ghosts&Echoes:
bandcamp link to our album:
\\\\\\\\\ drift /////// flux \\\\\\\\\ change |||||||||