you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

06 December 2017

INTERVIEW: Flower Crown.

Photo by Chris Sexauer

Flower Crown is the Pittsburgh-based dream pop duo Richie Colosimo and Aaron Mook. The band released their stellar debut LP, GLOW, in October and we’ve had it in constant rotation ever since. GLOW’s lilting melodies, dreamy textures, and hypnotic guitar tones are gorgeously balanced and anchored by the duo’s firm grasp on how to write a great pop song. The album has been one of 2017’s surprise discoveries, pulling us back to it again and again. 

If you haven’t heard GLOW yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Don’t make your Best LPs of 2017 list without first hearing Flower Crown’s offering. You’ll no doubt discover it deserves a place with the elite.

We hope you enjoy getting to know Richie and Aaron in the interview below. Many thanks to them for taking the time to answer our questions.

How and when was the band formed?
A: Richie and I met at a Halloween show that his other band, Frame and Mantle, was playing in 2015. We started talking about writing songs together while I was selling merch for them on tour. The first demo he sent me was for “Tequila Mockingbird,” a bonus track on our EP, Hypnausea, and then we recorded the first Flower Crown song together (“John Cusack”) in his home venue/studio, Conjunction Junction.
R: RIP, Conjunction Junction.

Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (any new releases, tour, etc.)?
A: Seeing as GLOW just came out last month, we've mostly been focusing on trying to do more press for that. But we've tossed around the idea of doing an EP of instrumental demos and B-sides. I keep everything we record and have a decent amount of alternate takes and unused instrumentals for GLOW, as well as friends who are interested in remixing the songs. 

R: As far as touring goes, live shows are kind of tough as we're a duo and have to teach our friends (members of Frame and Mantle and Wave Trails) the new songs. I'm not sure if we anticipated playing in support of GLOW, but we also didn't anticipate people being so gracious about the album, streaming it, buying tapes and CDs, etc. So we might be looking at a few 2018 shows with our labelmates, The You Suck Flying Circus.

Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream-pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
A: Without sounding vain, I would like to consider Flower Crown as part of the current shoegaze/dream-pop scene. But at the same time, genre tags are so weird. We've seen “jangle-pop” thrown around, which was probably more accurate for Hypnausea. The LP definitely falls more into the dream-pop category. 

R: But there's been a wave of indie-pop bands flirting with those niches (Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, Real Estate) and I think we identify more with that crowd than any straight-up shoegaze act.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream-pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
A: Richie introduced me to Greet Death recently and we both love their album, Dixieland. I know DKFM has played Kindling before and they just put this really great, massive-sounding record called Hush. And, less modern, but the new Slowdive album is killer.
R: The band Nothing is up there for me on the modern shoegaze list, too. 

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
Tough question. I think honestly it would be the computer. I was able to get a lot of cool sounds between my pedals and the computer. I don't own any four track recorders or anything like and don't have the time to mess with them, so the computer definitely makes things easier. My guitar and amp are both fender; I guess I tend to prefer fender for the kind of sound we have. I also have a pedalboard full of stuff, but honestly, I'm not much of a tweaker when it comes to amps and pedals. I just like to do what I think sounds good.

A: I am currently playing a very, very cheap Casio keyboard that a friend's sister let me have (provided I moved it out of their house myself). If we end up touring, I think I might be finally due for an upgrade. But you'd be surprised by the sounds we were able to get out of that and a half-broken delay pedal.

What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What you recommend for others?
R: I usually write the skeleton of a song and bring it to Aaron and we pick it apart and arrange it from there. We record some drum and guitar tracks and try to build from there, and if we like where it's going, we move forward with it. We actually cut a few tracks off of GLOW that didn't really vibe with the rest of the album. I have a Fender Jazzmaster and a Supersonic Twin and that's what I use if I'm not recording directly into the computer. I have a pedalboard that I combine with some guitar patches on the computer and i ended up finding some cool sounds. I am by no means a good engineer, nor do I have an extensive background in recording. I use Logic Pro because it's simplified in a way that I can understand, and for the time being, it's doing what I need it to. 

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/Bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
A: We've been very fortunate to have Wes Meadows distribute our music through Flowerpot Records. His operation is big enough to help front the cost of tapes and CDs (as well as a limited run of lathe-cut vinyl we did for Hypnausea), but small enough that he genuinely supports our creative decisions and is invested in working with us to find press opportunities, get on shows, etc. Most people (including ourselves) use streaming services for the sake of convenience, but Bandcamp is a great platform for sharing your music and selling your merchandise directly to listeners.

R: I've always kind of done things DIY, but I do believe that if someone likes your music enough to want to help you out in any capacity, that's something really special.

Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
A: Richie and I both collect vinyl and subscribe to Apple Music, so I suppose it just depends on what the album is, whether it's available on vinyl and how broke we are at any given moment. I sold my CD collection a few years ago, but cassette tapes can be fun collector's items. We'd love to do a short vinyl run for GLOW, preferably not lathe-cut this time around, but it doesn't really seem practical without a larger label's support.

R: I don't have strong feelings towards any of them, honestly. Any way you can get it out there for people to hear it. 

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your music?
A: Real Estate and Mac DeMarco were our two biggest reference points for Hypnausea, but there are other artists outside of the jangle-pop genre that we were listening to a lot of at the time. Richie got me really into Animal Collective and Panda Bear. We were both listening to King Krule and Tame Impala. The Smiths are one of my favorite bands and Morrissey definitely influences my lyrics and vocal melodies. With GLOW, there was more emphasis on both the “dream” and “pop” aspects of the genre, so it was equal parts bands like DIIV and Cocteau Twins alongside bands like The Drums and Modest Mouse.

R: Yeah, Aaron named a few that I was rotating pretty heavily throughout the writing process. I was listening to Tired of Tomorrow along with black metal bands like Alcest and Lantlos. They all have some really pretty, textural stuff that I tried to take some influence from.  

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
A: Richie plays in two other fantastic bands – Frame and Mantle (post-rock) and Mires (doom-metal) – and I'm not smart enough to make music alone, so I'm incredibly grateful for the chance to continue learning about recording and becoming a better writer and musician. I'm grateful that people like the record at all, let alone enough to pay for it or watch us play shows. None of that is owed to me, so above all, I'm grateful for the opportunity to make music and want to make the most of that opportunity while it lasts.

R: I'm not super philosophical or anything, but I guess it would be to never stop trying to be a little bit better, whether it's personally, spiritually, musically or otherwise. Always try to improve yourself, even if it takes a long time, and remember that everyone has their own pace and that's okay. I too am very grateful for the opportunities I have to be able to play music and for the wonderful people I have met through playing and being involved with music. (And Aaron definitely is smart and talented enough to make music on his own.)