Elusive electronic pop act Flow Machines released their second album proper ‘Hi-Res’ directly to fans on a ‘pay what you want’ basis.
WE caught up with them to learn more about this release and what else is on the acts horizon.
Hi-Res seems to have many musical influences how did that theme come about?
I’ve never been too concerned with genres, more with mastery of the 7″ and 12″ formats.
If I think of acts that have achieved that I’m thinking of S Club 7 and Sugababes, but also Dinosaur Jr and Pavement, and then Soft Cell and Strawberry Switchblade, Friendly Fires and Yeasayer, and so on.
So if it sounds like there is a mix of influences in the album, that could be why.
How would you describe your own unique sound?
I guess part of it is the analogue synth sounds, the pop sounds, the beats, but then there’s always an attempt to be creative with the song structure too.
So a lot of the tracks start off sounding like a 7″ single, but then head into the middle-8, never to return.
Because so much of Flow Machines is about these classic electronic sounds, it makes sense that there should be segments of the songs where we just indulge ourselves with extended instrumental breakdowns.
During the recording of this album I realised that a lot of Flow Machines tracks contain many of the elements of classic 12″ extended mixes, but compacted within a more 7″ style track of 4 minutes or so.
You are known for bypassing traditional music industry routes and methods, why is that?
When the project started the only mission was to record a set of songs with a certain sound, and when the recording was complete the most logical next step was to just put it out.
It’s actually been relatively easy to build up interest and followers and the great thing about delivering direct is you get feedback straight back by email or on the Facebook page.
I love that, it gives you an extra motivation to go off and write more tracks knowing that there are people all round the world appreciating what you’re doing.
It restores a bit of faith in humanity too when people engage with a non-commercial, independent project like this.
Your fans can buy this new album online can’t they, what can they expect from it?
Basically 10 electronic pop tracks which are relatively catchy and which have experimental sounds and structures. The album is out on a ‘pay what you want’ basis.
We did this with the last single and it was rewarding watching people voluntarily paying to download the work you’ve created.
We’ll never fully cover studio costs on any release, but it’s great that people contribute something.
We’re going to put the payers on a separate mailing list now and send them free bonus tracks and mixes every now and then as a thank you.
You have collaborated with quite a few people to date, is there a collaboration out there yet to happen?
We’re currently working on a dark and moody disco record which is a collaboration, but will keep that one quiet for now as its still in the early stages.
I think there’ll be lots of collaborations in the next year or so. It’s just a really enjoyable process.
The remixes for The Lost Cavalry and Cornershop last year were great to do.
You take inspiration from the parts other people have created, and morph them into a track which is different from anything you would have made independently. I’m really pleased with both of those remixes.
What style of music do Flow Machines listen to?
I have a Spotify playlist on the go as we speak and just scrolling through I see Tom Waits, Noel Coward, 808 State, The Shins, Simon & Garfunkel, Electronic, Metronomy, Felt, Little Dragon, Yuck, Simple Minds and so on.
I’ve also been listening to old Depeche Mode tracks this week as I watched the ‘101’ concert documentary at the weekend for the first time. My favourite track at the moment is ‘Two Different Ways’ by Factory Floor.
Are the any plans for a Flow Machines tour?
We’ve had a few offers to play live but the plan was always for Flow Machines to be a studio project. It’s tempting when you get offered a good support slot, but for now, we’ll remain in the studio.
If we were to play live, I’d want to make an event of it, with projections and an orchestra. If the new album sells well then maybe that will become a possibility.
What’s next for Flow Machines?
I like the idea of producing a set of three 12″ singles, with tracks that are specifically written to work as extended versions.
The next project will be something like that. I think we will also produce a 30-minute DJ-mix version of ‘Hi-Res’ to give away to fans who paid for their album download.
Is there a piece of advice you’d give to an up and coming act trying to make it on the scene today?
Well we advocate plotting your own course and following that, so giving advice isn’t really compatible with that.
I think you have to just work out what you want to create and what you want to get out of the creative process.
For Flow Machines it’s just to make records we like and share them with people who also like them. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
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