Interviewer: Anthony Huttley
Where are you both from, and what brought you to Tokyo?
Josh: Sunshine Coast, Australia –I originally came to Japan to be a J–pop singer! I was in a punk rock band before that. For me the spirit of punk rock was supposed to be about rebelling and doing something different but I felt that my band was not doing that at all. We were playing loud music but it wasn’t necessarily very different from other bands. There was nothing new or risky about it. So I guess my way of rebelling was to move to Japan to make pop music. Thankfully I didn’t end up becoming a J–pop star but I did fall in love with the food, language and culture of Japan along the way and later ended up becoming a J–pop producer.
Flo: Cologne, Germany –My whole life I have been a language geek and learning languages is my passion. I was eager to learn a language that is linguistically far away from the European languages and I already had a basic interest in Japanese culture so I started learning Japanese around the age of 16, going to Japanese classes twice a week after school in my private time. During my first year in uni I was finally able to visit Tokyo for the first time through an internship, which I did at a German company for 2 months back in 2008. I fell in love with the city and so I decided to do my exchange year abroad at Sophia University in 2009 and then finally I moved to Tokyo in 2010. I have been living here ever since.
How did you meet?
We both attended a monthly producer meetup in Tokyo called Music Producer Conference. From there we ended up making a lot of mutual friends and DJing together a lot at different clubs around the city. After a while we noticed our common taste for records with great chord progressions combined with strong vocals. This made it very natural for us to join our forces to create a music project that incorporates our favorite musical elements and aesthetics.
How did you get into electronic music?
Flo: I grew up listening to a lot of hip hop, both German and American. Once I turned 18 and started exploring the club scene in Germany. The music I was listening to quickly became mostly the electronic music that was playing at the clubs. At the time I was very much into French house music and was listening to artists like Daft Punk, the early David Guetta, Joachim Garraud, Fedde le Grand etc. However the artist that inspired me the most to actually start producing my own music was Deadmau5. I was a hardcore fan and I was also a computer geek so around the age of 19 I figured out how to be able to create my own songs on the computer. I bought my first DAW which was Fruity Loops (now FL Studio) and I have been using it ever since.
Josh: I’ve been into music my whole life. I started playing drums, piano and guitar when I was a kid. Then I started recording guitar, vocals and drums mainly on pro tools when I was in high school and really got into the production side of things. That progressed to making electronic music on Ableton using samples and virtual synths. Once I realised how fun and quick it is to produce on my laptop rather than recording a whole band it quickly took up most of my songwriting bandwidth.
How would you describe the music that you play?
Flo: Our music is based around having each individual element of the record to be a strong pole to the song on its own, while focusing on the melodic and vocal variety to be most prominent. I have been playing the piano since the age of 6, which influenced my production in the way that I usually begin to write a chord progression as a base and then start to build the song around it. I was the lead singer in aMetalcore band called “I Promised Once” which gave me experience writing melodies and toplines as well as recording vocals.
Josh: We both love melody and great chords and I think that the combination of those elements with unique sound design and drums patterns is the key to our sound. We’re starting to work with great vocalists now so that has had an impact on our music. We both have a very diverse taste in music which creates a challenge of choosing which genre of songs to release!
What’s been happening recently?
Josh: I’ve been back in Australia on the coast during the ‘rona’ situation. I hadn’t been back for 3 years so it’s great to see family and friends and just chill at the beach and go surfing. There’s been a lot of reverse culture shock! For the last couple of months we’ve been working like crazy to finish our new EP.
Flo: During the last few months I have been mostly confined to my house in Tokyo. Being forced to stay home helps alot to write new music and is in that sense a great way to use the critical situation for a good opportunity. I was able to write on this EP a lot and we managed to finally finish and release it. As for the outbreak in Japan, it is small compared to the rest of the world and the Japanese have proven yet again their highly disciplined and health conscious way of living, which is in my opinion the main contributing factor to the situation being rather calm here. Therefore I believe I can count myself lucky to be in Tokyo during these times.
Please tell us about your new EP:
Our last EP “Midnight Movies” was a new direction for us. For this EP we’ve continued on that path of more pop oriented songs with chill uplifting vibes. We worked with a singer in LA on the first track “Let Me”. The whole process has involved a lot of video calls and messages!
What was the inspiration behind it?
Flo: Separation has been a big theme this year, both in the minds of the public and in my own life. So that was a big influence on the sound of this EP. They say out of lovesickness emerge someof the most creative ideas, which I think this EP proves. It incorporates a lot of the feelings I was having while creating the sound.
Josh: The whole world is very divided right now. Earlier in the year people couldn’t go outside to meet their loved ones and even now we still have social distancing rules. Plus the fact that we are collaborating with different people around the world over our computers. Separation was a natural theme for these songs. I think on this EP we really worked on honing the sound from our last release and worked hard to make everything cohesive and to sound as clear as possible.
Which software do you use?
FL Studio, Ableton Live and sometimes Pro Tools.
What are your top 3 plugs in the studio?
Decapitator! It’s asaturator from Soundtoys that just sounds great. FabFilter Pro–Q is probably our go to EQ and the Waves series of plug–ins including the L2 and L3 limiters are very solid too.
Where can we see you DJ?
Our most recent show was at Ce La Vi in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve. Hoping everything gets back to normal soon so that we can get back to the clubs to drop our new songs!
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Niku yokocho in shibuya is fun! There’s a small standing udon place in naka–meguro in Tokyo which is amazing too. So many amazing food options in Tokyo. When we hang out it’s usually at a club in Tokyo like Womb or Ageha.
Facebook: Cinema Heaven
Interviewer: Anthony Huttley https://www.instagram.com/anthonyhuttley