Flamingods share their top Tramlines tips
Newly picked up by Moshi Moshi Records (Teleman, Slow Club, Anna Meredith) following their intriguing breakthrough LP Majesty, Bahrain-via-London psychonauts Flamingods have seen praise come in quick for their fearless invention and mesmerising live performances.
Their brazenly rootless and cosmopolitan approach voraciously consumes dance, psych and folk from across the planet and reconstructs it into beguiling psychedelic wig-outs.
With their follow-up EP Kewali set for release on Moshi Moshi on 26th May, we catch up with the band ahead of their set on the newly launched PRS Momentum tent at Devonshire Green.
- How has 2017 been so far for Flamingods?
2017 has been great so far for us! We’ve played SXSW in America, Tallinn Music Week, Tremor festival in the beautiful Azores Islands, and played a bunch of awesome shows in the UK and around Europe. Been busy to say the least!
- The band was formed at ATP Festival in 2010 – what brought you all together and convinced you this was something worth exploring?
The band was actually formed as a bedroom project by Kamal in 2009, and the rest of us joined in 2010, with the project sort of coming to fruition through the ATP jam. The jam really summed up how we all felt about making music and our approach to jamming. It was an 8 hour jam; things got crazy!
I think we all realised (and are still so grateful) that we have such a great musical chemistry; it just works with some people and that’s why the songwriting process for us is so organic.
- People often struggle to describe your eclectic sound in a sentence – how would you put it?
We generally describe ourselves as Exotic Psychedelia. They are both pretty open terms but quite accurately sum up our main influences.
- Around the release of Sun in 2012, Kamal had to leave the UK when visa laws changed. Was there ever a danger that it would break up the band?
Kamal left in 2012 due to changes in the visa laws for international students studying in the UK. About a year later Charles joined him there too. It was a really heavy time for all of us as we were so invested in the band, even in those days. There was never any question that the band would end though. We just made a huge effort to tour whenever they were back in the UK, which meant 2 months of pretty intense touring.
- The follow up, Hyperborea, was made by sending files, ideas and songs back and forth around the world. Did that influence the music on that record at all?
For sure, that definitely affected the way that the record came out! It’s a pretty strange record, Kamal was going through a tough time after being forced out of the UK so those feelings of alienation were there, as well as all of us dealing with still pushing to make music together any way that we could. Very different vibe to how music sounds when we create in a room together.
- Your music features a range of instruments from all over the globe. What attracts you to them? Do you just pick them up and figure out how to play them, or is there a more calculated approach?
Most of us have grown up travelling a lot and living outside of our home countries so we’ve always been really exposed to other cultures and music. We all find it super fascinating and I think this is a huge part of the reason that we gel so well musically. When we pick up new instruments to play, it always just ends up being us playing the instrument in whatever way feels the most right rather than a conventional approach.
- Last year you released your third album, Majesty. How is that record different from your previous two?
Majesty was different as it was a concept album as well as a homage to exotica music inspired by some of our favourites, Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman, Les Baxter, Piero Umiliani, etc. obviously adding our tropical Flamingods flavours to it. It was the record that we’ve spent the most studio time on and it really evolved from conception. We are still super proud of it!
- The vocals are given more prominence on Majesty than in the past. Was that a conscious decision?
For sure, a lot of the lyrics are about the protagonist of the album’s narrative, Yuka and his trials and tribulations.
- What’s your favourite Flamingods track and why?
Tough question! I love them all, I’d say perhaps two of my favourite are Majestic Fruit (from Majesty) and Cacao (from Sun) because they both capture a side to our music that we don’t often express. To play live, I’d say maybe Hyperborea because that is when all hell breaks loose!
- Who are you looking forward to seeing play at Tramlines this year?
- What does 2017 have in store for Flamingods?
We’ll be touring more, playing some amazing festivals and very excited to be starting work on Album no. 4!
Words: Sam Briggs
28 April 2017