Culture Talks brings the multi-instrumental psych five-piece Flamingods, hailing from Bahrain via London. Hot off the heels of a host of festivals and recently picked up by Moshi Moshi, they have been kicking up a fuss with their mesmerising live shows and array of instruments from all corners of the globe.
Following their breakthrough LP ‘Majesty’ released last year, Flamingods have had a busy twelve months. Recently signing to Moshi Moshi Records, known for their experimental outfits, the five-piece have been touring their eclectic live set throughout the UK. Flamingods started out life as a bedroom project for lead vocalist Kamal Rasool, following an eight-hour jam at ATP Festival in 2010, the group formed in its current conception and hasn’t looked back since. Priding themselves in reconstructing the traditional ideas of dance, electronic and folk, the band takes something from all cultures and what we have left is a psychedelic trip for the modern era.
We caught up with them after a recent trip to SXSW to talk about their humble beginnings and the best BBQ joint in Austin.
Hi guys, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us, can you start off by introducing yourselves and telling us a bit of background or history about the band?
Thanks for having us! We’re just a bunch of childhood friends who grew up in and around the Middle East. Kamal initially collected a lot of strange instruments from around the world to make a lot of the early Flamingods songs and we all slowly joined in to see where we could take it sonically.
Last time we saw you it was on the Hell Stage at Glastonbury. Your live set is really high energy with several of you playing multiple instruments. How do you guys translate the recordings live and decide who will be playing each part?
Yeah that was a fun show! Up until recently we’ve tried to keep the live experience and the album experience separate. Usually what happens is that we take the album version of a song and change it up so that it’s more energetic and fun to see live. The whole instrument swapping thing is pretty natural to us – it’s pretty refreshing getting to play a different instrument each song. We usually play our instruments different to each other so the results from that are always fun too.
As well an eclectic live set, you are also known for your confluence of musical instruments ranging from all over the world. Where do you pick up the instruments and is there a new favourite instrument you used on the latest EP?
We’re really into finding sonically unique and strange instruments, we’ve got quite a bucket list worth of stuff we wanna buy! We picked up this instrument called a Sarangi which is like a Nepalese violin that also has this incredible design. Kamal’s Dad found an old Arabic Casio keyboard in Bahrain which has this cool Arabian scale mode that we used on our song Kewali.
“There’s always been a backbone of celebrating different cultures within our music – the growing fear of ‘the other’ has given us a responsibility to at least try and spread a positive message through our music”
Your music has such a wide range of influences and styles, what has been the biggest influence or direction with the latest release Kewali EP?
It can be a little hard to describe sometimes but I feel like a lot of Disco and Eastern Psych-Rock made their way onto EP somehow. With this EP we didn’t want to overthink things but instead, let things work themselves out naturally
You mentioned in a press release that the latest single Kewali is “a song deep rooted in love and the idea of celebrating what’s around you”, which is particularly prevalent at the moment. Has it always been something you have been conscious of, the idea of bringing together so many different musical styles and cultures within your music?
Definitely, from the start there’s always been a backbone of celebrating different cultures within our music, and the growing fear of “the other” sprouting all over the world has given us a responsibility to at least try and spread a positive message through our music and shows – given the many nationalities within the band and our love for all things unity.
You recently signed with Moshi Moshi, a label that has had some great experimental and breakthrough artists in the past. How did that come about, and what was it about the label in particular that made you sign?
We’ve loved Moshi’s output for years so it’s great to be a part of the roster! Our new music is heading in a new direction and they seemed the perfect home for it.
You guys just got back from playing a few dates at SXSW how was that? Is there anywhere you’re particularly looking forward to playing next?
SXSW was pretty dope, a hectic but fulfilling experience! We rented a car and just drove around Austin and discovered some crazy good food joints – Salt Lick BBQ was insane! We just got back from the Azores Islands in Portugal which was pretty beautiful and we’re looking forward to going to Croatia for the first time over summer.
What’s next for you guys for the rest of 2017 and ahead?
Right now we’re slowly starting to piece things together for the next album, in-between doing a lot of festivals in the UK and Europe over the next few months.