THERE are songs out there that just stick with you. A track that ends up on repeat in your playlist, spinning round and round so often that it ends up becoming embedded in the soundtrack of your life. From that moment on, those songs will forever conjure up images and emotions associated with a certain time and place, even when years later they pop up unexpectedly, buried amongst whatever else is the flavour of the day.
For me, the hopeful yearning and unrequited passion of Flight Facilities 2010 hit “Crave You” is one of those defining moment songs, even now invoking feelings of wistful nostalgia. With each of their subsequent hits, this dynamic Sydney DJ duo have continued to manage that elusive achievement — songs that tap into an emotional undercurrent whilst still maintaining an enjoyable up-tempo beat.
Now, working their magic across the US and Europe on an action-packed tour, they take time out to discuss their new track Clair De Lune, the death of the age of the album and their tips on who to watch out for in the Australian music scene.
You’re playing in London next Thursday as part of a US/European tour. What’s it like playing so far from home?
All the shows have been really good so far. The London show will be the first event we’ve organised overseas by ourselves so it should be a really interesting test of the waters. We never try to hold our expectations too high but we’re quietly confident it will be a fun night.
We’ve only just touched down in Europe but all the USA shows were great. They were all enjoyable in their own way, with some smaller parties and some large scale events. With all the various crowds we were able to play in front of, it almost feels like each state is different country.
Do you think the crowds are made up of a lot of Aussies keen to get their Flight Facilities fix away from home, or are local audiences discovering your talent?
Every now and then you’ll find a really proud Australian in the crowd. We had a guy run to the booth in Washington DC to let us know we weren’t alone. We’re sure it’s as much a homely connection to them as it is to us. It’s also relieving to know that we’ve got some locals spreading the word to the far corners of the globe
What experience should the crowd at Thursday’s sold out gig expect from your set?
Jeez. No pressure, right? We can only hope that they leave smiling having had a worthwhile experience. All we can say is, for any show, movie or entertainment related material: don’t head in with expectations. Nights are always more enjoyable when you don’t have any preconceptions. We’re guilty of the same thing.
Following the release of the hit ‘Crave You’ in 2010 and ‘Foreign Language’ in 2011, came ‘With You’ at the beginning of this year. A slow burn of hit singles rather than a rapid fire — are you deliberately trying to build anticipation amongst eager audiences with your approach?
We think it’s the way music is being released now. The age of the album seems to be drawing to a close, at least with respect to particular forms of music. We have nothing against albums and there are still some unbelievable pieces of work being put forward by a lot of great musicians, but now there are other ways of making an impact or approach in the industry.
We’re sitting at the start line of a new dawn of marketing and publicity. Experimentation and risk are paving the way. It may well blow up in our faces but right now, we humbly feel as though “so far, so good” applies to us.
Next up is single ‘Clair De Lune’ featuring New York vocalist Christine Hoberg which you’ve offered up a tantalising teaser to on You Tube — what should audiences expect and what would you describe as the influences to this track?
Our main influence would have to have been Claude Debussy’s song of the same title ‘Clair de Lune’. This has been our most self indulgent song so far. We made it entirely to satisfy our own ear drums. 3 minute-conventional-radio-
Yet it seems to have had an incredible response before it has even been released. Sometimes just satisfying your own musical curiosity can really translate to an audience better than a tailor made pop song. All we wanted to show with Clair De Lune was a little diversity and belief in what we do. We don’t want people to expect 115-125BPM pop songs from us all the time (although we do love to make them). Reading that response back seems horribly full of itself but if nothing else, this song was for us to listen to at bed time and shamelessly stroke a chin or two.
Your video for Foreign Language has been nominated for a J AWARD. It seems to be to be a kind of Instagrammed ode to 70’s spy films full of high cut swimwear, double-breasted suits and high kicks in and around Sydney harbour. Is this what you wish life was like? Of course, without the villan, Victor Zoran, because he’s just creepy…
We definitely wish we could have seen some of the 70s/80s through our own eyes. Most of the music then is still inspiring artists today (us included). We couldn’t be happier to have a music video that portrays our love for the era. Every time we watch it we’re split between wishing we could have lived through that time and knowing that the clip was made in our back yard only a year ago. We really got the best of both worlds.
You recently did 4 mix tapes for Triple J. With each set representing a different decade, you not only cross referenced 30 years of music charts, you also trawled 40 years of Wikipedia for major events in history that you translated into YouTube URLs correlating to these events so you could use sound bites from these videos in your set.
You call it on your blog ‘the educational document of death’. What inspired this in-depth approach?
One of us heard an ambient podcast years ago on FBi and it was just some really dreamy soundscapes with the history of JFK’s presidency. So you could follow his story while listening to some beautiful music. That kicked the idea off. From there it was developed in the brain into a full blown world history project set in time to the music of the year. The concept seemed far easier when it was floating about upstairs. But it was about half way through mixing the 80s project, and certainly too far in to turn back, that there was this very sinking realisation. If you’ve seen The Mummy, it felt a lot like this:
The Australian music scene is lucky in the support it receives from Triple J, and there seems to be a number of ways aspiring Aussie musicians can explore getting into the music industry. Do you think the Australian music scene is unique in that way?
The most unique thing about the Australian music scene is the ‘universal’ aspect of Triple J. There aren’t many countries that broadcast one feed to an entire country on an FM radio. That’s something very special. It certainly presents a bit of a monopoly but thankfully Triple J is, more often than not, diverse in its broadcasting. There should be more responsibility placed on the Austereo network to involve themselves more avidly in Australian music. There’s an absurd amount of talent all around us. Why waste our time with the commercial garbage that gets shipped to us in a shiny box?
What advice would you have for aspiring DJ’s?
We don’t know whether to encourage them to use laptops or not. We’re probably a little disconnected from that world. We’ve learned how to play on records and CD’s so we have a natural disposition to the computer as a live tool.
As for getting started, play what you love. That’s a sentence that’s so easy to skim over but you never really know what it means until it clicks. Everyone has individual music taste. Let yours show and reap the rewards of setting yourself apart. Anyone can play the top 40. It requires an internet connection, a USB stick and a few nights of practice. People may jump and scream all night, and that’s a special feeling, but they’ll forget you as soon as they leave the club. A career in DJing won’t sustain itself by playing the hits because you’re immediately disposable. Go back to the music you grew up with, the music your parents liked, the music that played in the background of the shows you watched. You have to do some modern day crate digging if you can’t do the crate digging itself. If you’re a DJ, the music you play and love should be like a resume.
Once you’ve learned how to play a warm up set, a main set and a closing set – start trying to edit songs and even play with production. You’ll get a good feeling for what works and what doesn’t. Playing a song in a club, sometimes you wish something was longer or shorter or perhaps it would sound better if spliced with something else. These are the perfect natural steps to take to be able to read a crowd. It’s easy to spot the producer-then-DJ from the DJ-then-producer.
Being based in the UK sometimes I feel a little out of the loop – what do you think of the Aussie music scene at the moment and who should we look out for?
Aussie music scene is always good. It’s permanently striving for attention and depending on where you stand, it doesn’t get enough. One of our good studio friends, Al White, will be one to look out for. He’s got so many hits hidden away on his computer. We can’t wait to get behind them. Who knows how much longer you’ll have to wait, but it’ll be worth it once it’s out.
Also Movement are two Sydney kids just starting out and will most definitely be on the road to something special.
Every time your songs used to come on the radio when I was with a particular friend back in Australia, she gleefully identified you guys as once playing a set at her 21st birthday party — do you still do impromptu events and delight surprised partygoers?
We haven’t done too many impromptu sets. We’re so incognito, we doubt anyone would know who we were if we jumped on. We still play parties where we can, individually. It keeps us sane and helps us try out new music. But we love our jobs so much, we rarely turn down the quieter gigs. Occasionally someone will figure it out, but it’s primarily about making it a special event when we do play together.
Watch their new single Clair de Lune (feat. Christine Hoberg) here: