Down-to-Earth hitmaking duo, Flight Facilities, have recently graced us with a soft return in the form of 'Arty Boy', a funkadelic track featuring fellow homegrown talent, Emma Louise. Hugo Gruzman and Jimmy Lyell set aside the time to talk the craft of well ageing music, collaborating with upcoming artists, as well as answering a question fans have been dying to know the answer of vis-a-vis Kylie Minogue.
Your music draws upon this sound production that’s often rich with nostalgia, whether it be disco grooves of the 70s, or any other sample. How do you reconcile the constant demand to be modern artists by the music industry in this day and age with, I suppose, this recurring theme of retrospection?
Nostalgia has always played a huge part in writing our music. Every song has been based off another song that we were hugely fond of. Too often, when we're writing a new piece of work, it's based on a new and an old song, which is where that fusion takes place. The best part about working in that fashion is that we already have a certain emotive feeling towards the references, and we try to insert that into whichever piece of music we're creating. Giving something a more modern feel is also what defines it from the past. If we were to perfectly recreate something from the 70s, with no nuance, it would be purely derivative, which would completely destroy its ability to be unique. We've found the best way to help people connect to our music, is to strive for the perfect mix between something that feels new and different, while also reminding you of the past. Any song that has survived 30 or 40 years and still sounds great, probably sets a great precedent for being timeless. That's why they can be some of the best references.
The diverse roster of artists you’ve worked with, and your previous affiliations with both the Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra-- suffice it to say your approach towards making music has been democratic. Is there a Flight Facilities bible for sound curation?
Basically, anything goes. We could be inspired a song from an unknown bedroom producer in Eastern Europe, or it could be a huge pop song by someone like The Weeknd. Obviously, we're no strangers to older music, and at some stage in the process, there's usually one or two references that will creep in, as a song begins to take shape. Sometimes, we may feel our song is missing a particular element, and we try to find examples of tracks that have something that we believe ours doesn't. It can be a purely textural thing, and a good example of this was in 'Stand Still', referencing the synth noise from Daft Punk's 'Television'. There are modern references like this that we return to more often than others, to find that dance element. The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk are probably the two best and most consistent examples of making dance music, while retaining a sense of sophistication and class. It rarely, if ever, feels cheap or disposable.
In your personal opinion(s), what makes music timeless? Better yet, what helps music age well?
As we said before, the best place to start is to draw inspiration from the already timeless. But we believe it's also important to both avoid trend, but also acknowledge it. Drawing from what's considered 'now' can, at times, be essential to developing a path as an artist. It's a great way to push new boundaries, and can even be the catalyst in pioneering a new genre entirely. But unless you invent a sound, it's also critical not to be so consumed by a trend that you become synonymous with it. It can make you, as an artist, look fickle or weak minded to change your trajectory to meet an expectation. The best advice, although probably cheesy, is to be true to yourself. Make the music you would want to hear, the songs and sounds that best represent you, and as hard as it can be, don't change it based on how you think others will perceive it. When we made 'Clair De Lune', we fully expected it to be our least successful song, because we truly didn't consider it being heard by any more than a handful of people. In our most brutal terms, while making it, we literally thought "Oh well. Fuck everyone else. This song is for us".
You’ve most recently released a new track, Arty Boy, with Emma Louise once again. Was it the same experience reuniting with her as previous instances?
Arty Boy was made in the exact opposite fashion to Two Bodies. When we first worked with Emma, we came to her with an instrumental, and she crafted her beautiful vocal around it. This time, it was Emma who approached us with a series of songs that she was working on for her album, Supercry. 'Arty Boy', previously known as 'Boy In The Zoo', was the most developed of any of the ideas we worked on with Emma, around 2 years ago. We had also worked on versions of ‘West End Kids’, ‘Shut The Door’, and ‘Talk Baby Talk’. There were others that never surfaced, which we'd love to revisit in the same way we did ‘Arty Boy’, but we all more or less came to the same conclusion that it sounded a little bit more on the Flight Facilities side of things. As for working with Emma, the only hard part about it is that fact that we're all incredibly childish. So it's not hard to waste time together laughing, making joke songs or telling embarrassing stories. When we do finally make music together, she's one of, if not the most, talented artist we've ever worked with. Sit her down, unprepared with a keyboard, a guitar or even just a microphone, and she breathes out more music than she does Co2.
Are there any artists out there that you’re burning to work with?
At the moment we're really enjoying working with artists who have a less developed profile. The expectations aren't as high, and the energy in the room is a little different. Sometimes the best sessions are getting to know that person without the preconceptions of their existing industry life. But then of course there's a fantasy list of artists who inspire us day to day, who we'd love nothing more than to create with. From the past, artists like Billy Joel, Barry Gibb, or even Chris Rea. If it were a more modern approach, we'd love to work with someone like Jamiroquai, James Murphy or Kevin Parker. For now, we feel lucky to have worked with the artists that we already have. People like Reggie Watts, we feel so lucky to call a friend now, because beyond his successful, hilarious and entertaining career, he's one of the loveliest, most kind-hearted people we've ever met.
Is Arty Boy part of a larger, unreleased project, and if so, care to share some juicy deets with yours truly?
Unfortunately, no. Well, not yet. We're so unsure, with how the music industry is moving and changing, that the idea of an album has completely changed. That said, we do now have enough content to work towards the release of an album, but it's hard to consider that kind of release when people are consuming, digesting, discarding or ignoring entire albums in a fraction of the time it takes to create. There's a lot of other noise that artists are forced to contend with, in order to cut through the pack. Sometimes it feels as though less is more, and giving people one at a time helps reduce the amount of content they're expected to get through and absorb. Yes, the music industry has changed, but the consumer has changed too, and any artists acknowledging this are likely the get the most out of their releases.
And finally, professionalism aside, I have to ask as a fan: is there a full-length version of Kylie Minogue’s Crave You (Reprise)? And as a follow up, will there be one available anytime soon?
Yes it does exist ;) We were thinking maybe on the ten year anniversary?
By Garry Lu (@mrputneyswope)