Hailing from Denver, Colorado, the duo FLASHLIGHTS - Ethan Converse & Sam Martin - put out EP 2, Hidden Behind Trees, back in February
Upon hearing FLASHLIGHTS you can label them as many things. 'Tropical-pop', 'electro', 'experimental' etc etc etc. And all of the previous statements ring true and combine into one impressive medley of emotive, new chill-wave electronica.
Fresh from performing at SXSW, you can check out our interview with Ethan from somewhere around the mid point of the festival.
(One For The People) For anyone needing new to your music, could you us a brief introduction in your own words....
(Ethan Converse) We (Ethan & Sam) started FLASHLIGHTS in a basement up in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colorado in the winter of 2009, in a house with no heat and no cell phone reception. We pretty much locked ourselves away for the winter, wrote our first set of tracks and played our first show in February of 2010 in the middle of a snowstorm. FLASHLIGHTS is our first stab at making electronic music, as we both had played guitar in rocks bands before we started this project and had literally never touched a synthesizer until this.
(1FTP) Tell us about some of the inspirations that transcend into Flashlights music...
(EC) We were listening to a lot of Washed Out and Toro Y Moi when we started the band so I would definitely say that those are major influences, but what we listen to on the day to day has changed quite a bit since we started. We have been listening to a lot of production heavy music recently (Samurai Buck, J-Dilla) and Soul like Aloe Blacc and Raphael Saadiq.
"we try to really get into our music as much as we can on stage. We can’t really expect the people watching to get into the music if we ourselves aren’t giving it our all" - Ethan Converse, FLASHLIGHTS
(1FTP) Now, I'm not too knowledgeable of Denver, but how has it affected the way you make music? Or are these tropical synths a means of escapism?
(EC) Haha, I guess you could say so as we do our best writing during the winter when we are forced to stay indoors and out of the cold. I’m sure that the tropical sounds are a result of the fact that we wish we had warmer surroundings. Denver has probably influenced our music in a different way though, as most of the people we know here are in bands, running the gamut from rock bands (Gauntlet Hair, Tjutjuna), to electronic acts like Pictureplane and Hollagramz. Seeing these great bands perform and push the limits of music all the time has definitely influenced our style and driven us to make better music. Also there is a great DIY scene out of Rhinoceropolis that has also opened our eyes to a lot of music we would have otherwise never seen.
(1FTP) Obviously Bandcamp has made your music much more accessible. Which I suppose is only a good thing in terms of revenue for you. But are there plans for a physical release though? And is that something you particularly care about?
(EC) Well we have yet to make more than 7 dollars off of Bandcamp, as we don’t have anything for sale other than our physical cassette release split with Force Publique, so it’s more about making our music accessible at this point. That being said, we are talking with some labels about releasing the EP digitally, as well as a vinyl label that is trying to release the EP on a 12 inch which would be REALLY cool. We have been buying a lot of vinyl lately and we absolutely care about releasing physical media and being able to put our music and the artwork in our hands of the people that really enjoy it.
(1FTP) With there only being the two of you, how do you approach the live shows? And also, what kit are you rocking?
(EC) We actually had a drummer for the first 2 shows, but since then Sam handles all the production work live and plays synth and I (Ethan) strictly sing. We have seen so many amazing bands play that have zero stage presence or even any movement on stage, so being that there are only 2 of us to watch, we put together a pretty great light show for our shows with tons of fog & strobes to really separate ourselves. We have a light engineer, Rande Kamolz, who controls the strobe light orbs which shoot beams from floor to ceiling, and he does an amazing job.
We have been playing a lot of day shows at SXSW , so without as much of a light show, we try to really get into our music as much as we can on stage. We can’t really expect the people watching to get into the music if we, ourselves aren’t giving it our all.
(1FTP) We know your playing SXSW, which will of course be great exposure, but whats in store for the remander of the year? And do you have any specific goals or 'things to achieve' list?
(EC) Well our first priority is the release of this EP, available for stream on our bandcamp: www.flashlights.bandcamp.com, which hopefully is in the very near future and then we are hoping to start touring the US come fall of this year in support of the EP.
(1FTP) Give us an artist Flashlights currently recommends....
(EC)We have been listening to Samurai Buck nonstop! It’s Brian Marcus’ (of Tjutjuna, who also mastered our EP) solo project, and the production work on it is amazing. Check it out at www.samuraibuck.bandcamp.com
(1FTP) And finally, fill in the gaps for us:
( EC) Flashlights are: 64 calories mixed with rollerblading with a little john stamos thrown in.
Stream Hidden Behind Trees in full below, then head to Bandcamp to grab highlight tracks "New Hampshire" & "Holidays" for free.
Also, If your in the Denver area tomorrow (31/03) then your in for a treat as you can catch FLASHLIGHTS playing with Toro Y Moi at the Larimer Lounge.