A Chat with Flecks (09.11.2021)

Taking everything we have all felt over the pandemic, Flecks combines it with his authentic sound for his debut album Hibernate to Acculumate. While technically a lockdown album, it brings a different sense to many of the others that have hit the airwaves. Using his multi-instrumental style and experience in the musical world, he takes listeners on a journey from feelings of needing to escape to the restlessness we all know a little too well. We had the chance to chat with Flecks about his debut album, the backstory, mixing of creative works, challenges and much more!

OSR: While you were in a band when you were younger, what drew you to making music on your own?

Flecks: Yeah, I was in a band at university for a bit, just with some mates, which was a lot of fun. Ever since though, I’ve found it weirdly hard to form bands or get into them. I’m honestly quite mystified how people do it! The idea of finding the right personality who plays the right instrument at the right level and likes the same music, so tricky! Anyway, I’ve just got used to playing and writing by myself. I quite like it really, but am totally open to collaborations.

OSR: Your debut album Hibernate to Accumulate has just been released. Is there a backstory or theme to the album? 

Flecks: Well, it’s yet another lockdown album, and I cannot apologise enough for that. I know it’s a flooded market. There wasn’t an intentional theme as such, but when I finished the album and was working out the track-listing order thing, I noticed there was a bit of a “near and far” theme going on. As in, some of it is quite homely and domestic, while some of it is about escape and fantasising about far-off places or indeed space. Maybe that’s understandable considering most of it was written or recorded in lockdown.

OSR: Why did you choose now to release your debut album?

Flecks: Honestly, I don’t have an interesting answer to this. I was hoping to release it in February or March last year but a load of things went wrong. It worked out well though, I think it’s a very autumnal album, hibernation and all that.

OSR: The pandemic played a large role in the creative process of the album, but did any other experiences and events impact it?

Flecks: God, I mean, my whole life? The album does feel like the culmination of 20+ years of listening to as much music as possible and tinkering around with melodies and chords and bits and pieces. I’m pleased I didn’t record and release an album before now as I honestly think it would’ve been shit. There was a pivotal point about 2 to 3 years ago when I started writing music on piano instead of guitar. I just felt so through with the guitar, like I’d exhausted all the avenues. When I started writing on the piano, it was a real lightbulb moment, just total liberation from all those bloody chords.

OSR: The album features Martin Noble, who also mixed the album, and Astra Forward. How did you connect with them?

Flecks: Martin, I met through a mutual friend years ago. We go on birdwatching trips with a few other guys, there’s quite a big overlap of blokes in indie bands and birdwatching, I think. Guy Garvey is into it. One of the best things about birdwatching is all the stuff surrounding it, the road trip, the packed lunch, the pub afterwards going through what you saw. Love it. 

Astra, I knew a long time ago but we’d fallen out of touch. I remembered that she had this amazing voice that reminded me of Elizabeth Fraser, and I’ve got an annoying habit of writing songs that I just can’t sing. ‘Gravity’ was one of them, and it turned out perfectlymy God she nailed that. It turns out a mix of about 70% of her voice and 30% of mine sounds really good, so she sang on ‘So the Angel’ too. 

OSR: The tracks on the album were a while in the making, how do you feel this has affected the overall feeling of the album?

Flecks: Hmm, not sure how to answer this. In reality, the songs were written and recorded between December 2019 and about May 2020, so only really about six months. It just took ages to get from that stage to finally releasing it. 


OSR: While making music, you work as an editor and writer. How do you balance these different types of creative work?

Flecks: They seem to fit together surprisingly well. For some reason, they occupy slightly different bits of the brain, or at least they do for me. Editing is a very “clean” thing I can start and stop without really noticing. Writing is this horrible traumatic experience that I can only do once I’ve procrastinated for about 10 hours beforehand. Music, I can do when I’m tired or low or busy or whatever. They all have their own little niches.

OSR: If people could listen to only one track on the album, which do you feel captures the essence of the album as a whole?

Flecks: God, choose your favourite baby! OK, I’m going to mention three tracks, sorry. I would probably recommend ‘One-Person Party’ as it seems to be the people’s favourite, and it has a nice combo of the melancholic stuff and the upbeat stuff. ‘So the Angel’ is, in my head, the sort of “emblematic” track of the album, as it was the first one I wrote, and tonally is a good marker. BUT BUT BUT, ‘To Colombo’! is my favourite. Honestly, I can go to my grave happy now that I’ve done that track. It’s long I know, who has 14 minutes to listen to one song? But fuck me I’m so proud of it. 

OSR: While there are a lot of emotions packed into the album, what is the one thing you would like people to feel as they listen to the album?

Flecks: Oh I wouldn’t like to suggest what people feel. I have to let the album go, let other people take it as they wish, let it have a life of its own. Having said that, if any filmmakers hear it and think “I want to use that in my film”, my email is flecksmusic@gmail.com 

OSR: What was the biggest challenge you faced when creating the album?

Flecks: Getting a good piano sound when the piano is about 100 years old and creaks if you so much as look at it, that was an issue. I am getting a new piano. Also, a couple of times, on about take 85, my cat Zelda would come through the catflap and ruin it. Ed Sheeran doesn’t have to put up with that shit.

OSR: What else can we expect from you in the next 12 months?

Flecks: I feel a bit of a tit saying this, but I’m planning an EP of classical music for the spring. One of the big revelations of this whole process was arranging strings, I absolutely love it more than anything else. If I may blow my own trumpet, I think I’m quite good at it. So I thought I’d cut to the chase and write some straight-ahead classical music. After that, I’m also planning a more sing-y song-y piano album, and a semi-ambient album that has a really pretentious concept that would sound laughable if I wrote it here. 

Thanks to Flecks for chatting with us! You can find more about him on his website, Twitter and Spotify.

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