We caught up with Aussie duo Flight Facilities to talk small world tours, brotherly love, and ‘White Soul’
It doesn’t seem unfair to suggest that Flight Facilities’ rise to mainstream awareness has been something of a slow burn. Since releasing their first track – the feather light ode to unrequited love “Crave You”, featuring vocal duties from Giselle – back in 2009, Aussie duo Jimmy and Hugo seem to have been repeatedly on ones-to-watch lists, regularly releasing singles that build on their note perfect blend of electro and pop, while never fully sating our appetites with a full LP.
Nonetheless they’ve managed to build a platform of devoted fans off the back of some killer singles, a string of well-received ‘Decade Mixes’ (seriously, check them out – they’re a party-worth collection of throwback tunes and full on classics), masses of shows the world over, and even a few festival headline slots. Not bad for a couple of guys from down under.
On the eve of the release of their debut album, Down To Earth, Wonderland got the unmissable opportunity to watch them hit the decks at the MixMag lab. We caught with the boys after their set to talk shows, soul and the casual matter of their forthcoming world tour.
So you guys have just been playing a show in an office – it’s kind of a party because there are people passing out shots but there are also people sat at desks.
Jimmy: It was kind of confusing for us. It was a strange but fun thing to do.
How did you get involved with the MixMag session?
Hugo: I think our label linked it up. So that was nice. We’ve always seen them and known about them, so it was quite an honour to be asked! I hope we get to do it again!
J: It’s funny, we sit on the edge of DJ-DJs, but we also have a live show with singers and stuff, so we like to show that we can do both still.
I always assumed, listening to tracks like “Crave You” and “With You” that you were more of a traditional ‘band’, maybe slightly more like Disclosure?
H: We love those guys, we model ourselves a little on them. We think they’re great. I guess we’re just slightly on the shinier side of things, a little bit less serious. I mean those guys seem like total dudes but the music is quite serious.
J: It’s also very garage-y as well.
H: But it sounds like serious dance music. We play their shit all the time.
You have more of a ‘white soul’ thing going on.
J: Yes! Definitely! That’s actually true.
H: We’re going to start describing our music as ‘White Soul”,
J: I suppose that makes sense, like Foreign Language and Reggie are like White Soul. Like Average White Band, remember them? They were five Scottish guys who made the best funk music ever. It happens! Look at Jungle.
H: That’s what we’re going to brand it as, because everyone always asks us how we classify our music, and now we’re going to say ‘White Soul’.
You guys have been around for a while. I mean ‘Crave You’ didn’t reach the UK until 2012, but it came out in 2010.
J: 2009 if you’re really following! It came out on a mixtape at the end of 2009.
So how long have you guys been together?
H: We started writing at the end of 2008, and then we did some remixes and stuff that came out in 2009. ‘Crave You’ came out in 2010, but it kind of leaked via a mixtape at the end of 2009. We weren’t that worried when it happened because we were like “uh, no one will listen, no one will care.”
J: And then people cared, and we were like “oh shit…We’ve got nothing to back this up.”
Is that why it’s taken you a while to release your debut album?
H: That’s exactly it.
Are you guys excited?
J: Definitely. It’s been so long coming. A year’s not long to do a record when you think about it, but it feels like a long time.
H: The hardest thing was keeping it under wraps because we were both quite against the thing of people going “oh we’ve got an album coming out” followed by an eternal wait. So we wanted to wait until we knew it was done, because we’re so unreliable with writing songs that we wanted to make sure people waited as little as possible for an entire album
So how do you write your songs?
J: It varies so much. We usually do a couple of sessions, work out what kind of song we want to write, and then we mould it and shape it and usually within two sessions we know whose voice we want on it, so we’ll go out and try and persuade this person to be on our song, and then if they want to write the whole thing or if they have an idea, we welcome their creative input. If not we’re happy to write with them. Reggie Watts, for the ‘Sunshine’ on the album, we all wrote together: Hugo was on Skype and I was in the studio in New York, and we all sat there and just wrote a song together in a day. It was really cool. And then Emma Louise, for “Two Bodies”, it was a really personal song for her, and she wrote that. We spoke about the concept of ‘take advantage of me’ and we all agreed we really loved it, and she just took it from there.
H: Sometimes we’ll pitch in for vocal rhythm ideas or pitching melodies up or down, but in that case it was her story to tell.
So how did you guys end up working together?
H: We were just partying a lot in the same places, and I worked in a pizza shop below a studio Jimmy had with another friend, and I’d just always wonder in, too often, and it just stuck eventually, that we were working together. And we just had a really good chemistry when we were working together and DJ-ing together, and I think that’s still the case to this day.
You guys do seem to have good chemistry.
J: Yeah when we’re Dj-ing we just kind of bop in the same time.
H: I’ve never seen it but I’ve been told about it and apparently it looks quite funny.
You guys look totally in sync, it’s a beautiful thing to watch. So do you prefer your DJ sets or your live shows?
J: Live show.
H: I don’t know, because a live show is something that’s consistent on a nightly basis. We’re doing it to build a one hour live show and showcase what we’ve got, whereas a DJ set is a, hour to hour and a half free time for yourself to see what happens. The reaction of the crowd for the live shows is amazing because you’re playing them to get these up and down moments, but DJ-ings really nice because if everyone gets on board you’re steering a kind of party. I don’t know which I prefer.
J: The bigger the crowd gets the more you have to instigate what happens. But when it’s a small crowd at a small crowd the crowd instigates and you have to read them.
H: Big crowds live shows and small crowds DJ shows.
So what can we expect from a live show?
H: Well it’s more structured, we have a set and singers and a synced lighting show, so it’s more of a performance, and an hour long spectacle, rather than winging it. We used to wing it with the vocalists. So we’d be like “oh let’s play that song now” and shout out to the vocalist to come onstage.
J: Yeah they’d hear their song and then have to come out. And some shows we’d be like “fuck where are they?!”
H: Yeah I remember some shows we’d be ready to play a song waiting for the vocalist and then be like “fuck she’s in the bathroom, okay let’s wait one more.”
J: Yeah it was pretty sketchy for a while.
So you guys are going on a world tour?
J: A small world tour.
Where’s your favourite place to play?
J: We used to not get a massive reception here, but that’s changed.
H: I’m excited to see what the LA show will be like, we haven’t done an LA show in like two years. The last one was a year and a half ago and that was really fun.
J: We played Coachella and we’re hoping after that it’ll be good.
Do you get a massive reception back home?
H: Yeah Australia is unreal.
J: Yeah, we’re playing venues now I dreamed of playing in Australia. Two of them! We couldn’t be happier about that.
Do you guys ever get on each others nerves?
H: Absolutely. I think I’d be surprised if we didn’t.
J: It’s like we’re brothers now. We have brother fights. And we love each other like brothers. We fight, but knowing it’s going to be okay the next day, because it is. It’s always going to be fine.
Words: Maya Hambro