Described by DIY as “Cross-continental shape-shifters”, and having their music called “magical cohesion… kaleidoscopic beauty” by Best Fit, Flamingods are a unique band by anyone’s estimation. Having created an early storm online with their blissed out, world-music tinged sound, Flamingods released their debut album Sun in 2012, following it up with Hyperborea in 2014. Last year, the band put out their latest LP last year. Just last week, they pushed their own boundaries even further, making a video game to accompany their new single Kewali. Our reporter Elli Brazzill spoke to the Flamingods ahead of their headline slot at Sounds from the Other City.
Hey! How are you all at the moment? Up to anything fun?
Hello! Yes, we’ve just returned from Tallinn Music Week in Estonia, very cool city and we’re just about to head to the exotic lands of the Azores for a festival called Tremor. Life is good!
Where is everyone in Flamingods based at the moment?
Thankfully, we’re all based in London at the moment.
In a few words, can you describe your latest album Majesty to those who haven’t heard it yet?
It’s the Holy Mountain of Flamingods albums – a concept LP about spirituality and searching for enlightenment in the jungle. It’s inspired by Exotica, esoteric and travel literature and psychedelia.
You get asked a lot about national identity, is that something you feel is important for listeners to know about you?
Oh of course. There are so many different cultures that run deep through the members of Flamingods and that owes a big part to our sound. We grew up in the Middle East, we love Arabic music, we’ve got Indian members, Jamaican members, Arab members – it all influences our sound and we’re proud of it!
You’ve just been to Estonia for Tallinn Music Week, have you been to Estonia before?
Never! And it was a very different place to what we expected. We thought there would be a real soviet vibe but it was much more Scandinavian, or a mixture of the two. We loved it there, the people were so friendly and we made some great new friends including some bands from the Moscow music scene.
You’re all big travellers anyway, tell us an exciting story from somewhere you’ve been?
When we were in Nepal 3 years ago we were walking down the street and heard this great big noise coming from the upstairs of a building. It sounded awesome – like if Lightning Bolt teamed up with some monks to make this new righteous sound. We walked up the stairs and kept following the sound until we were met by a piece of fabric where a door would have been and the sound coming from within it. We opened up a crack of the fabric and looked inside and were greeted by a woman who was offering herbal tea. In the back of this big square room were four Tibetan monks creating ceremonial music. Two of them were playing Dungchen’s (Tibetan horns) while the other two were playing huge ceremonial drums and chanting. It was so beautiful and inspiring, we must have been there for hours. We took some field recordings (some of which you can hear in Majesty), spoke to them a bit at the end and went on our way.
You’ve released 3 albums to date, if you had to pick, which is your favourite? Or at least, favourite to record?
Hard to choose! I guess your latest is always your favourite so I’d have to go with Majesty, it definitely feels like the fullest in terms of sound and concept, although I did always dig the sheer weirdness of Hyperborea.
In the past Kamal referred to Flamingods as “a punk band without being labelled as one” in regards to how you play your instruments, would you prefer that to the “five piece multi-instrumental band” that Wikipedia has decided on?
Yeah I mean, there is a lot of a truth in that haha! Yeah maybe, I dunno. It’s very hard describing what we do, especially because we are very different live then we are on record.
What’s your favourite new instrument you’ve collected? And are you playing it as intended?
That’ll be our Phin guitar from North East Thailand. It’s one of the few cases where they actually hook it up to distortion and delay over there as well. Even though I don’t play it the traditional way – which is very fast picking and often paired with Khene (mouth organ), we’re not steering too far from what the sound is.
What are some things you enjoy apart from making music?
I cook a lot; it’s really relaxing when you compare it to the mad world of touring and I’d say my love for food in general (and exploring other cultures cuisines) is on a similar par to music.
Are you excited for your headline slot at Sounds From The Other City? What can we expect?
Yes very much! We had an awesome time in Salford last time around. We’re coming equipped with some heavy new songs. We play loud, exotic, psychedelic, dance sets when we perform live, so if that’s your thing please do make it down.
What have you got coming up before and after SFTOC?
We’re about to head to the Azores this week, a few more shows in and around Europe and then after SFTOC it’s on to festival season and releasing our new EP Kewali which comes out on May 26th on Moshi Moshi records.
And what other acts on the line-up would you recommend?
Definitely Vanishing Twin! They’re playing the same stage as us and are truly one of the best bands around.
Thanks for talking to us!
Flamingods are playing Sounds from the Other City for Grey Lantern at Unit 2 Regent Trading Estate. You can get one of the final festival tickets here: http://www.soundsfromtheothercity.com/tickets/
Elli Brazzill is a journalist based in Manchester editing the new music section for Too Many Blogs, finishing off a degree in Music Business and is part of the SFTOC marketing team. In the weeks leading up to the festival, Elli will be introducing some of acts from the Sounds bill.