A CONVERSATION WITH FLAVIA
BY: ANTHONY GIN
Next Show - Bootleg Theater (March 1st): Tickets
We covered FLAVIA in an earlier article on Sofar Sounds last month. FLAVIA is one of the most exciting artists we’ve seen through Sofar Sounds in the last year and we had a chance to catch up with her last week to hear a little more about her debut EP, “Embers.”
When did you start playing in LA?
I came to study voice at CalArts in 2009. I started booking shows and performing pretty much right away and did a month long tour across the US. It’s been 7 years…it feels like I’ve been here forever now. I love this city. I love how much music there is. I love the potential for growth, and how much this city pushes you to be the best that you can be. There’s such a deep talent pool and it’s…hard to make it out here. You have to be as innovative and creative as you can be.
Did you find it tough when you first moved out here?
I grew up in Dublin and Florence. When I arrived at CalArts everyone was so talented. I realized I needed to work my ass off to stand on my own two feet out here. It’s competitive in a really good way. I try and stay inspired by other artists.
What’s the title of your upcoming EP?
The EP is titled “Embers.”
Did you have a vision for your EP (or for your sound) before you started?
There’s no overarching concept, it’s more a feeling that I want people to get when they’re listening to me. I want to bring out people’s strength. That’s what music does so much for me. If people can [listen to my music] and leave feeling empowered - that’s a job well done in my book.
For example…[the song] “Embers”… I had gone through a rough patch, and a long stage of writer’s block. It was the first time it had ever been this severe. Finally, I sat down and wrote that song which is about staying true to who you are and, in the moments when you slip away, just knowing that you’ll always be able to find your way back to your own life. For the most part, the song symbolizes staying creative, staying inspired and trusting that it’s never going to go away.
A lot of your songs seem to be about the explosive feeling of being taken away by someone. What are you trying to embody in your writing?
I think it’s that feeling when you go through something impactful in your life. Something that is extremely emotional and personal to you that leaves you vulnerable or excited. With love in particular, you transcend. Your world kind of slows down. That’s magical. There’s a window - a period where you feel like that love will never change. There’s a nostalgia too that I love, and the fleeting nature of it as well.
With “No Gravity,” it’s very much that feeling of being on top of the world and transcending, and it was the same with “Chemical Reaction.” It’s about holding onto that moment.
At your last show I spoke with your producer, Ethan Allen, and he mentioned that you transitioned from a different genre…
I was doing a lot of soul and funk before. I think that will always be a part of my sound. I am definitely excited to make the transition to electronic pop. I’ve always loved the pop world. To be honest, it was scary for me to move into it because I felt that it was hard to do on your own. With a band, everyone has their role, but, with pop, I had to trust in a producer to bring my vision to life. Ethan was amazing!
Currently, I’ve been producing my own demos and doing it a little more DIY - which I love! I’ve been learning a lot and digging deeper into what I want my sound to be.
What pushed your switch into dark [electronic] pop?
I’ve always loved pop music. I love how clever you have to be with such simplicity. I also love to dance. I’m literally dancing all the time - at home, in the shower, in my car. I wanted to make something profound that people could get down to.
In terms of the “dark” aspect of it, I write from my core. Sometimes it’s a little dark in there - I think that’s where we all keep our deepest fears, insecurities and desires. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine.
How does your writing process work?
I wouldn’t say there’s any one process. Sometimes it’s me on a piano, other times I’m driving in my car and recording infinite Voice Memos. Most recently I got into Logic and have been making beats and writing over them. I went into a writing cave for a few months and have been working on a lot of new material. I’ve realized that no one will find my sound for me, I have to play around and see who I am as an artist.
What’s the sound you’re going for?
I’m going for an edgy, dark pop sound, but I want it to be gritty and fun. I want people to dance to it. I want it to be heavy.
What’s been your biggest influence outside of music on your writing?
Not to sound cliche, but music is pretty much my entire life. It’s definitely the single most inspiring thing that I do. There’s no end to this madness we call music.
I’m also an actress. That’s another place where I can dig deep and embellish certain parts of myself to create other characters. It’s exciting. Sometimes I’ll try and write music from the perspective of a character that I’ve created. It’s really interesting because there’s really no limits. I also have an incredible friend group that keeps me sane and inspired.
I’ve been to a few of your shows and you’re a great performer. What are you thinking when you’re up there on stage?
Honestly, most of the time I’m freaking out. Whether it’s two people or two thousand, I always get nervous. A lot of times I get technical with my voice, or all the bits I have to remember to trigger - or dance moves - or keeping time on the drum pads. There’s so much to do up there. I forget to have fun and forget that I’m doing the thing that I love most.
When I take a step back and realize that, - it’s the ultimate freedom. We have the ability as artists to impact the lives of others, make them feel happy, less alone or inspired. Music has saved me on many days and I hope that I can do that for other people as well.
What’s your plan moving forward?
I’ve got a couple videos in the works and I’m super excited about these new demos I’ve been making. I’ve been playing two of them live: “Does She Like it Rough?” and “Blue.” You can check out both of those at my upcoming show at Bootleg Theater on March 1st. Other than that, I'm writing a ton and working with new people.
Are these new demos going to be part of a new album or just single releases?
I think single releases for now.
This is an odd question...but what’s your spirit animal?
Haha. I’m definitely part black panther, but a really cuddly one. Not a scary jungle cat. And, I’m for sure part unicorn (they are real). I also think there’s some squirrel in me – it’s the part of me that’s doing a million things at once. Squirrels are hustlers.
Are you working on anything on the acting front?
Yes! I just finished a feature with writer/director Noam Kroll. It’s a really amazing project, I can’t wait for people to see it.
What shows are you playing soon?