Flowertown are Karina Gill and Michael Ramos. Their self-titled LP, is available now from Mt.St.Mtn. The single, The Top caught our attention in April, it was our record of the week. And now the album, distilled from earlier EP releases carries on in the same rich, early creation-ista vein. It's pretty Velvet-y, Felt-y in parts, courageously quiet and lovely. Anyways, thanks to Karina and Michael for talking us through the record.
Almost every Flowertown song goes through the same process: Mike sends Karina or Karina sends Mike a voice memo of a chord progression (sometimes just a start, sometimes with more structure), then someone sends it back with maybe a verse and a chorus, or a whole song, maybe resembling the original, maybe not. Then at some point we piece together notes and voice memos to figure out how the song goes, and then we record it.
Karina: I had fun writing lyrics riffing on Mike’s love for horror movies. One of the few guitar solos in the Flowertown repertoire, courtesy of Mike!
Mike: When Karina sent over the sketch for this song, I immediately loved it. I sat down at the 4track and hammered out what I thought would be only a rough draft of this song but we ended up using the instrumentation as the final version.
Karina: This song is a good example of the “lint roller” metaphor: songs are like looking at what’s left on a lint roller; it’s not arbitrary what sticks and what does not, but nor can anyone truly explain why some things stick in our minds while others don’t; and then one makes something of the pattern of all these little bits stuck there suspended.
Mike: This song is really fun for me to play on guitar. It almost sounds like I know what I'm doing with my instrument. Last year I watched many many movies. There was a window of time that I got really into Giallo films and discovered that Suspiria was only the first movie in a trilogy. This song contains some references to some films as well as to conversations that occurred around the same time.
ROCKS + AIR
Karina: When Mike sent me this chord progression, the melody arose within seconds of hearing it. I was reading a book about a region of southern Greece and the melody felt like what I was reading about -- bare rock-topped mountains and a huge bright sky. Maybe a little escape from the foggy lush of San Francisco.
Mike: I think we did a really good job singing this song. I have not read the book Karina mentioned, but it almost feels like i did (:
Karina: I guess this is a real shelter-in-place song. I think we just did one take of it and felt our messy blown out guitars were a kind of happy accident.
Mike: Karina is a linguistic master and often uses words i've never heard before. Starting at a young age, my father would refer me to the dictionary whenever I'd ask him for definitions. When Karina sent over the sketch for this song, I ran at full speed toward my bookshelf. Unrelated, I really like the fast / slow / fast / slow structure of this song.
Karina: I was working on another song with some part of this chord progression and thought it’d be interesting to hear what Mike would do with it. The two songs turned out to sound nothing alike! When we recorded it, Mike draped a big blanket around himself and the mic to get the bells. He looked like some kind of colorful vampire. I get to do something slightly trickier on guitar on this one which is fun.
Mike: While at work one day, a coworker and I were nearly mauled by a dog that escaped from its house and ended up running away after our close encounter. We spent an hour or so driving around and walking the streets, trying to find that dog. I'm not sure if it ever made it back home, but I told Karina about the incident and the rest is history.
Karina: This is the first song we wrote together. Mike gave it the name world peace at the start and then I ran with the theme – in my own way. There’s a high pitched ghostly sound at moments which I realized later was my ring vibrating off the high e string.
Mike: I thought writing a song with this title could be fun. Initially I tried to figure out what "world peace" meant to me, what it could take to get there, and tried to approach it from the melodramatic / 80s romance perspective by asking what I would trade "world peace" for (love? personal happiness? Magic cards?) but thankfully Karina helped steer it in a different direction, including references to a joke about a shipwreck and a genie.
Karina: The RCP is part of Flowertown’s geography – a few blocks where lots of stray cats live. I appreciate the equanimity in the way cats look at us people.
Mike: While filming the music video for this song, one especially friendly cat followed us back to the van, climbed in, smelled everything, then ran across the street and climbed up a tree after some birds. The song is not about this day.