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A Q&A with FLOWN’s Margot Bianca

Each of the members of Brooklyn-based band FLOWN, Margot Bianca (vocals and guitar), Kate Ryan (vocals and drums), and Caroline Yes (vocals and bass) have played in a number of bands together including Frankie Rose and the Outs, the Clearing, and the Assault. And although each of those projects have a completely different sound, Bianca, Ryan and Yes bonded over their mutual love of Black Sabbath, Earth, Sleater-Kinney, Iron Maiden, Sleep, the Melvins, Girlschool, Motorhead and Coven. in many ways, FLOWN is a bit of a return to their black metal roots.
As you all may know, I wind up hearing about bands in a variety of ways. Sometimes a friend puts me on to someone that I should be interested in; in other cases, I receive emails from publicists or from the band themselves; and on occasion, I find out about a bands at live shows. In the case of the Brooklyn-based trio of FLOWN, I caught them open for White Mystery and Shonen Knife at the Bell House last year, and was really impressed by their sound. As I wrote at the time FLOWN played a “noisy set that consisted of sludgy power chords and complex song structure reminiscent of prog rock. In some way, thematically I was reminded of the Sword’sWarp Riders album.”
 
At the end of last year, the band went to the studio to write and record the material that became the band’s debut, Eye of God/Yearlong Eclipse 7" and it’s probably one of the hardest, heaviest album I’ve heard this year — both songs have moments of plaintive beauty but much like a force of a nature, at it’s heart it has an underlying primal immediacy and power.  
 
In this Q&A, I had a chance to chat with FLOWN’s Margot Bianca about the new 7” which you can pick up now in limited edition vinyl with special artwork (you can read more about that and see some of the actual artwork below); the band’s songwriting process; her advice on artists trying to make a name for themselves; and of course, more. 
 
And of special note, FLOWN is playing several dates to support the release of the new 7” including their album release show at Secret Project Robot on May 17th. 
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How did you get into music? And when did you know that it was the only thing you wanted to do? 
I’m fairly certain that we were all sung and played to in the womb, so love of music was pretty ingrained in our psyches. It’s not the only thing we do by any means, but an important one.

How did each of the members of FLOWN meet? 
Caroline and I met in college and toured together across the country with my old band, The Assault. She was our tour manager. Caroline and Kate met working together at a coffee shop and realized they were Gemini twins (born on the same day!) and started playing together. Frankie Rose recruited all of us to be her backing band in 2009, and the three of us have all been playing together since then.

How would you describe your sound? 
Stoner witch psych metal.

Who are your influences?

Sabbath, Earth, Sleater-Kinney, Iron Maiden, Sleep, [the] Melvins, Girlschool, Motorhead, Coven… 70s protometal and 90s sludge especially. 


Each of the members of FLOWN had been in projects whose sounds were completely different than that of FLOWN. How did you come upon the band’s current sound? Do you get a thrill out of thwarting expectations of how you’re supposed to sound?
We all really, really wanted to make heavy music again - as we had with some of our older projects. There was a real need to have an outlet for our aggression, to deliver our emotions into the music. I’m not too worried about people’s expectations because in a lot of ways this is a very personal project for all of us.

The band’s sound has a forceful, primal feel to it. What inspires that?
Beside raw emotion, we’re inspired by mythology, tarot, astronomy and the unconscious. Lyrically most of our songs touch upon those themes. Black metal is very inspiring in its pursuit of transcendence through forcefulness. In our rehearsals and live shows we sometimes start with a drone ritual to set the mood, to create an alternate space where the unconscious can come out and play, so to speak.
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You just released the Eyes of God/Yearlong Eclipse single and it’s one of the hardest, darkest and loudest albums I’ve heard this year. And structurally, the songs are quite complex — for a trio there’s a lot going on, as you’ll hear songs twist and turn unexpectedly with time signature changes and the like. So how does the songwriting in the group work? When do you know when you have a fully fleshed out song?
We have a very collaborative approach to writing, which I like a lot, but isn’t easy. Usually there is a riff that one person comes up with, that then gets built upon in our studio through jamming, recording bit and pieces, and a lot of communication. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. We are definitely on our own schedule that way.

The first pressing of the single comes with handmade packaging and it includes a silkscreen jacket. Who came up with the artwork? 
We wanted Hecate on our album cover after a New Year’s day tarot reading we did using the Motherpeace Tarot deck, which depicts its symbols as they relate to different mythological goddesses (so amazing!). Hecate is the triple goddess — three heads carrying three items, usually a torch, a key, and a knife, or sometimes a hammer. We asked our friend Santiago Armengod, an artist based in Austin and Mexico City, to collaborate on this idea and he created this beautiful lino cut print for us. 

For whatever reason, there’s this sense of amazement whenever people come across women who kick ass and can fucking play, as though it’s some new, original concept. Have you ever received that “oh wow, you guys kick ass for women” treatment? Have you dealt with anyone who hasn’t known what to make of you or your sound?
We’ve come across this, but it’s absurd since there are so many women musicians we admire and respect who have been around for so long. I hope anyone who feels that way spends some more time delving into recent rock history. Our sound is maybe not so easy to categorize, but as of yet we haven’t run into much resistance.

What advice would you give to artists trying to make a name for themselves? 
Stay positive and be true to your vision. Making the art is more important than making a name.

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  1. weareflown reblogged this from thejoyofviolentmovement and added:
    Thanks William for the great interview!
  2. thejoyofviolentmovement posted this