INTERVIEW: PHOENIX AND THE FLOWER GIRL
Earlier this week, I reviewed a track from Phoenix & The Flower Girl, an audio visual duo whose latest EP ‘Greenhouse’ examines ‘the cultivation and exhibition of plants under controlled conditions, relating to us as a species’. Since first hearing the EP, my interest was well and truly piqued, and I knew that I had to find out more about the couple and collaborators. I spoke to Phoenix Troy and Flower about J-Pop, production, and the future:
KM: Tell me about how you started working together. What are your roles within the band?
Flower: It just kinda happened right after we became a couple. We decided that sometimes two heads are better than one. I help bringing his music into a visual, whether that means designing illustrations for the music, approving or critiquing moving image by others which becomes a part of the project or a song, or writing and directing my own videos. I also work on the images we use for merchandising.
KM: You’ve spent the last few years going back and forth between London and Tokyo, and I think your music is very evocative of the two places. Would you agree with that?
Flower: I do. Sometimes it’s not from the actual Japanese music influence but from the general day-to-day sounds you encounter there. I feel like a lot of the influence also comes from various other genres Troy listens to.
Phoenix Troy: There’s something about both places that does something to me. They are polar opposites and are inspiring to me in so many different ways.
KM: You’ve been described in the past as a mixture of Garage and J-Pop. What kind of influence did the Japanese music scene have on your work?
Flower: Garage? Ha! That’s cool if people hear that. I guess it’s pretty much an amalgamation of various genres anyway.
Phoenix Troy: I wouldn’t say we have a main sound. We are inspired by many different genres and I guess this resonates in the music.
KM: I’ve spoken on the blog before about the link between Lo-fi Hip Hop and Japanese culture, specifically anime and manga. Does that relationship ring true for your music?
Flower: I think it’s pretty hard not to find some inspiration from anywhere you go. The visuals and art coming out of Japan, be it traditional or modern can be fused together so easily. When you live there, these things become an everyday part of your life without you even realising it.
KM: Your new EP is a full audio-visual work. How does that manifest?
Flower: Sometimes you’re just meant to create.
Phoenix Troy: We always try to push each other creatively with every project. On this one we wanted to create more on the visuals side than we have in the past.
KM: Do you find that working in mixed media is helpful to you both in terms of inspiration and creativity?
Flower: I don’t really think about it in depth. I just do it. I like to look at things. I could spend all day just walking around and looking at buildings or plants…anything to be honest. I then somehow try and create something out of the thoughts that I get from simply looking. Why not apply it to an ongoing project that others can enjoy or be curious about?
KM: Can you tell us what themes the new EP explores?
Phoenix Troy: The title “Greenhouse” represents the cultivation and exhibition of plants under controlled conditions. Relating to us as a species, humans are all under one building; Earth. We are the ones under controlled conditions. Everything’s a greenhouse essentially to something. The concept of an exterior is a greenhouse to any interior.
KM: There’s a lot of plant imagery throughout the EP – what does that represent to you?
Flower: I choose imagery that I feel best reflects me at present time. I feel like flowers especially represent me as a female. It’s hard to explain but I feel like each plant or flower we place in the video or the still images is my reflection. It’s like a part of me.
KM: Tell us about the collaborations on the EP.
Phoenix Troy: The collaborations on the EP all happened organically. They came from being a fan, which turned into a friendship, which helped with sonic chemistry and complementing one another. The producers on this project are Slom, Fzpz, Charlie Abbott, BENBDADABOOM, Glam Gould and Falcxne. Vocals come from long time collaborators Ehiorobo and Chantelle Nandi, who can be found on past Phoenix and the Flower Girl projects.
KM: I get the impression that you are both quite future-oriented; through your lyrics and use of unusual synth sounds. Do you think that’s true?
Flower: I wouldn’t even have thought that these thoughts could come across in my imagery. I guess it is true. I love when I get a day to just be, without any thoughts. But it doesn’t always turn out that way. I guess we are all always thinking about tomorrow, most of the time.
Phoenix Troy: I have always been a fan of synths and playing with new styles and sounds. We are always growing, learning and evolving and I want the music to reflect that.
KM: Production-wise, the music on this EP is really something. How do the songwriting process and production intertwine for you?
Phoenix Troy: I have no idea. It just happens (laughs). All but one of the songs were written in Japan. I let Jesus take the wheel and the rest is history.
KM: What are your hopes for the future, in the wake of this new release and beyond?
Phoenix Troy: We have more visuals coming in the upcoming months, along with shows and more music for the year. Be sure to keep an eye out.
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