By: Lu Makoboka
Floors are definitely one of the few musical duos in our city who is able to captivate their audience beyond sonic dimensions. It’s not just the shimmering synths and angelic vocals that creates a sort of atmospheric ambience, but also their meticulously decorated stage setup that can be compared to an alien spaceship. ‘Fade’ is the name of their debut EP and even though it is an Electronic gem, the influences of Indie and Pop can definitely be heard. This time we caught up with Mikhaela Faye and Greg Abrahams of Floors to get a closer look behind the music and more.
MCBN: According to the article on Pulse Radio, both of you started making music together in 2015. Although how did you two actually meet? Plus, what was it about the relationship that made it seem like a good idea to form a band. I’m pretty sure during the time spent in music school you came across a lot of musicians.
Floors: Greg and I met at SACM, UCT. He was studying classical composition majoring in guitar and I was studying jazz composition and arrangement majoring in voice. He played in a crazy Balkan band called the Nomadic Orchestra which consisted of a lot of my classmates. I was playing jazz gigs and making funny, non-sensical sounds like “doo wap fap dap”. It was a wild time to be alive. Anyway, we started hanging out and making sounds together, Greg intrigued me because we came from such different backgrounds and yet had so much in common with me to taste, ethos and direction. It felt great to depart from the college scene, to create a sound and lyric that fed the mood of the song rather than always feeding into this notion of creating complex music for other musicians.
MCBN: Your debut EP titled Fade came out last year. It’s interesting to note that Fade means to gradually disappear or even the process of something becoming less bright. Yet in the project, Mikhaela’s vocals are bare in the forefront and the synthesizers that decorate the stereo field are as bright as neon lights. Care to elaborate why the title ‘Fade’ was well suited for the project?
Floors: So Fade came from a lyric and an idea from the track “northern lights”. Funny enough, that was the original title of the song which we then decided to use as the title of the EP instead. The track is based around the idea of mindfulness, [being] ‘in the moment’, walking down a street with a camera, hesitant to take the shot. We so often miss out on the unconscious, the intrinsic, the magical due to the negative feedback loop in our heads. So yeah colours fade, light fades, moments fade. If we try and control them, we invariably suffocate them. Why not just take the picture when you have the impulse, you know? We are ever-changing, shifting and oscillating beings stuck in this desire to be something else, to relive, to forget. “Anything but now, anything but me”. Our lived experiences are all we have. Moments fade and that’s beautiful. I see it more as a positive thing, the more we learn to let go of a moment passed, the more we allow for an entirely different experience to come to the fore.
MCBN: There’s a 10 out of 10 chance that if someone were to go to one of your shows, or even look at a picture of your live performances there are ALWAYS these colourful lights. Why and how did this come about?
Floors: We wanted to create an experience that was immersive and audio-visual. We met the guys from Bad Weather Productions through Mike Zietsman, PHFAT and starting chatting about prospective ways to capture the mood of our music through lighting and visuals. They came up with the idea of using programmed LED strips, designed and programmed this incredible show for us and we’ve been indebted to them ever since.
MCBN: The most awkward thing that’s happened at one of your shows?
Mikhaela: Technology is not always on our side. Things fuck out especially with the lights. I have headbutted myself with my microphone on numerous occasions, smeared lipstick all over my face, and played the most obnoxious synth sounds during quiet, vulnerable moments in the set. I’ve basically played techno riffs inadvertently by forgetting that I’m feeding a certain signal.
Greg: Sometimes there are these little awkward moments like something getting unplugged or cutting out. Those are pretty bad. We’ve had one or two where the audience really noticed but luckily they just rolled with it. Since our performance relies quite heavily on technology we always run the risk of operating outside of our comfort zone. Initially it was insanely stressful but now we understand more and we’re making the most of our tools.
MCBN: Something I find interesting about the work you guys produce is the songwriting. Some of it -particular Marrow- has elements of abstractness and more than one meaning. What does the process look like when you two are writing and where does the inspiration behind the lyrics usually come from?
Floors: Each track is different, one of us will start writing something and then we will workshop and expand on the lyrics. With Marrow, for example, I wrote some lyrics after watching the Amy Winehouse documentary entitled “Amy” and brought them to Greg who has an incredible way of fleshing out what I am trying to express- he will reduce a whole stanza of my lyrics into one line sometimes. Lyrics with dual meaning is something that we love to do, interpretation is everything. We want to give the listener the space to find meaning and emotional relevance in their own unique way.
MCBN: In the song Little Room Mikhaela basically glorifies solitude. What was it about your social conditions at the time that made you long for an escape?
Floors: My boyfriend at the time had cheated on me and lied to me about for almost a year. After breaking things off with him, he was determined to rekindle our relationship. Just when I would feel a sense of independence and growth within myself, he would pop up again with his false promises and meagre apologies. Too much too late if you ask me. Shame, Greg was so supportive, I was so angry and bruised for so long. Solitude is a wonderful and necessary thing to desire sometimes. For me, it says, “I want to get to know myself better” rather than “I am alone”.
MCBN: In most moments of our day to day life, they appear to have no major consequence on the rest of our lives. But every now and then there are those moments that occur that change everything. So what was that moment (s) that made a significant difference in your journey with music? (Asking both Greg and Mikhaela respectively)
Mikhaela: There are moments, few and far between, where I feel I completely surrender to the moment. My body beats my brain, I transcend into something that is so peaceful in its chaos; I feel held and protected from my own mind. It’s not about me anymore; my shortcomings, my pain. I can breathe, be naked in myself and hopefully through all of that, emotionally connect with you. I live for those moments.
Greg: I actually have a tendency to like big life events, big changes and moves that make me feel like my life is moving forward in a big way. But, what I’m trying to focus on more often, and give more significance to, is my habits. Trying to correct the bad ones and introduce healthy new ones. Taking more interest and time in small events in my life and how they make those big changes over long periods of time. The boring stuff like saving money, regular exercise, eating healthily, spending time with friends and family.
MCBN: Okay… So the artist/band you guys would like to have a proper D.M.C. with. An artist/band you would like to party with. And the artist/band you guys would like to spend a week in the studio with.
Floors: Sylvan Esso, James Blake, Radiohead, Kimbra
MCBN: From what I understand Floors is currently independent. In your opinion what are some of the hardships and blessings that come with being an independent act?
Floors: So there are many pros at the moment we feel to being independent. The nature of what a label does and what they can provide has changed quite dramatically over the past few years, especially now that music is almost exclusively distributed digitally. I think being signed to a label at this stage in our creative development would restrict and limit us. Having a game plan, being smart and strategic about how you distribute your content online, establishing an audience/listener doesn’t require loads of money. It does, however, require patience, persistence and the ability to adapt and relate to your consumer.
MCBN: Things you like and don’t like about the local indie scene?
Greg: There are very few shows, fewer sponsors and a small audience. So we have to make our own shows, fund our own events and really nurture that small audience. We’re slowly turning the negatives into positives but complaining less and doing more! We’ve seen a slow and steady growth of our local fanbase overtime and we hope to keep making music and growing locally and online.
MCBN: So what do you guys do outside of touching peoples hearts with your music?
Greg: I make music for games, TV and film as well as guitar session work, producing for other artists, sound-design, mixing and voice-over recording. Keeping it about audio at least.
Mikhaela: I teach children to express themselves through singing and I write and produce with other artists.
MCBN: Care to give us a glimpse of the themes and sonic direction you’d be exploring in your next project?
Greg: We’re currently listening to a diverse array of music but something I’m personally excited about is incorporating a live drummer (acoustic and electronic) on more shows and Mikhaela and I writing and performing music that makes the best use of our instrumental talents as well as our song-writing and production ability. We have 8 new tracks that we’re currently working on and have more on the way, so expect new music soon!