Music, Venue

“Why are you doing music if it’s just to play in your room?”: A talk with Floral Image

I had the great honour of speaking with Norwich psychedelic rock band, Floral Image, in preparation for their single “Why I Leave” and subsequent music video. You can find their video on YouTube and Facebook Watch, and the single is on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Floral Image consists of Fergus (guitar, vocals), Jack (Keys, vocals), Julian (drummer), and Mitch (bass, vocals).

How did your lockdown go?

Jack: It was, um… it was weird. We found more time to do music, but after we did quite a bit of music I felt a bit drained from it all, then didn’t write many songs for a while. It was hard not seeing people. 

Mitch: And ready for the next bit, you know? Music is two parts; playing for yourself and playing for other people. You can only go so far when you’re twiddling about in your spare room. 

Julien: I was enjoying being at home and having plenty of time to do things but as a musician it was very tough because you lose this sense of goal – why are you doing music if it’s just to play in your room? It took a while to understand why we were continuing the band.

Mitch: We did have a one-week period where we decided to become data programmers and give it up.

Jack – That’s what the government wants.

Miles: Gotta please Rishi. If we can’t please Rishi, who can we please?

Jack: Nobody.

So, right now we’re in a waiting period trying to figure out if there will be a second lockdown. If there is another lockdown, what effect do you think this will have on the band and your upcoming releases?

Ferg: Hopefully none. We’ve put a lot of work in for the release of this single with Catch 21 Records and we still aim to put everything out digitally but it means that everything gets pushed back in terms of gigs and online streams we’ve been asked to do. 

Jack: There was an online stream gig which hasn’t been announced yet and might never be. Apart from that, the music industry has been in lockdown since March. Hasn’t been allowed to unleash from its cage and probably won’t for a while. 

Covid’s changed the way we consume art, music and otherwise. What effect do you think that will have on the release of your next single?

Mitch: It’s tough because we’ve done all of the bits that approach a single release but the only bit we can’t see is the celebratory promo. I wonder if it’s gonna instigate a period of time where musicians consider whether to release music all together which is incredibly pertinent considering the whole nature of current listen-able recorded music. Maybe we’ll see a shift away from records and towards singles.

Ferg: I think for us as a band it will bring the mindset where you just over-analyse your previous release and the things you could’ve changed because we haven’t been able to play it live or anything.

Jack: Desperately and insanely watching the Spotify streaming numbers slowly rise. But hopefully it might mean that more people will listen to it online but in terms of making money from it, we would’ve done that from selling the single at gigs and we can’t do that. So, if you want to make a career in music that’s almost impossible at the moment. ‘Cause the government don’t deem us worthy enough.

Do you feel like it’s eliminated the performance aspect of music, like when you’re making music it’s not to be performed anymore, so it’s changed from your work previously?

Ferg: One hundred percent, when you’re recording music in a world with no gigs it completely changes compared to making music for an audience. Your audience is suddenly completely isolated, on their own, looking for a completely different type of escapism than any sort of communal celebration like they would before. So, if you’re writing to people in lockdown, you’re writing to people who are very lonely in reality. 

Julien: On a positive note, everything that’s happening now will open or push for a new wave of…I wouldn’t believe that people wouldn’t want to engage with new artists and I think the industry reacted in some ways to compensate for things. If you can’t see someone face to face, companies worked hard to bring concerts virtually. This will be the next big thing, it’s a great moment to push that kind of technology. It will never be like being at an actual concert, but something good has come out of it. 

I actually went to a socially distanced festival in September– Wild Fields– and in some ways I actually preferred it!

Ferg: Oh, don’t say that! 

Well I really enjoyed sitting down and enjoying the music, especially as I hadn’t heard much of it before. My brother, Harry, is also disabled and it would have been much more accessible and enjoyable for him compared to other festivals. 

Jack: Yeah, I can see how that would help, or for people who are claustrophobic.

Mitch: I mean, maybe this changes the very landscape of the modern performance forever. If you have loads of people enjoying the freedom of accessibility and being more social-space conscious is gonna open up things, maybe that’s a positive? But at the same time, you go to a Black Flag gig to get thrown around a little bit. 

Yeah, it was nice being with local artists and you don’t know all of the music but you want to chill out, sometimes with a bigger artist or someone that you love and you know all the lyrics, you do want to get close and do some headbanging. 

So, you guys have a single coming out, and this is your first release since 2019?

Ferg: That’s correct, yeah.

Awesome. So how are you guys feeling about it?

Ferg: Two things, really excited because finally people can hear what we’ve been creating. Trying to push back any feelings of an anti-climax because of the whole situation, but we’ve worked really hard as a group and with our creative team to make it as good as it can be given the circumstances.

Jack: What’s the single called, Fergus? 

Ferg: It’s called ‘Why I Leave.’

Interesting, differing from some of your other titles like Zonsonder and Subpoena. 

Mitch: It’s the first multiple word single to be released, in the title alone. It’s almost three times as good.

Jack: And it has an actual chorus. 

Mitch: Not the famed Floral Image silent chorus. 

Julien: My biggest excitement is that we can really see a step-up in the quality of the music and our production. I can really appreciate how it’s different from Zonsonder, for instance. It was the first song I was involved in, so I’m excited to hear the comments of those listening to it for the first time or hearing it on the radio if it’s aired. I’m really excited for people to say “woah. That’s a real step-up from before”.

What was the process like of recording a single and a music video amidst everything, I mean I saw some pictures behind the scenes but…

Ferg: Really lucky, to be honest. We managed to fit the music video recording times in between the bigger lockdowns. Did we contribute to the spread? Not as far as we know as none of us have had Covid.

Jack: Recording was strange; we started recording in February in London. We did the drums then, and then we got some done over March and then lockdown happened. Then the next time we recorded was June, so we had a massive gap of time. Whether that influenced the way it came out, maybe, I think we had so much time to think about it. It was like everything in lockdown, we had to be patient, jump at opportunities when they arose. 

Mitch: Patience of porridge. Or rather we don’t have the patience of porridge, we had plenty of it. Porridge is an impatient medium. Stodgy, rather slow. And turns on a dime. One minute, wet and saucy. The next, it’s glue. 

Microwave porridge explosion. 

Mitch: Don’t make me think about it. 

Are you guys Norwich locals or are some of you UEA grads? 

Julien: I’m from Belgium, moved here two years ago with my partner because she got a job here at UEA and I’m a student here. 

Jack: Me and Ferg are Norfolk boys, I’m from Dereham. Born in Norwich though. 

Mitch: I’m from sort-of London suburbs. I moved up here to go to uni but I’m a rival art-school kid. So, it’s all a bit weird being in this building.

Oh, so were you at NUA?

Mitch: I was NUA. It’s like the other side of the coin, isn’t it? We were the left-hand side of Two Face, the dark, pretty, gangsters of Norwich. You guys, the clean-cut, ex-lawyer, politician Harvey Dent. It’s a scary thing to level with, walking through these grounds. I feel out of place, almost demonised. 

You should do. 

How do you feel like the pandemic has affected the Norwich music scenes overall? 

Ferg: I think it’s affected it massively, venues closing. Birdcage, that’s gone. Open, that’s gone. 

Jack: It’s affected it massively. Venues are still shut, but, I like to think, socially, communally, it’s brought people together, because that’s all we’ve got, really. Each other. Trying to come up with new ideas. I think it’s – hopefully – bringing us all together.

Mitch: I’ve seen all the bands and the acts as well, there’s been a general online comradery, a lot of beefing each other up. There’s been releases all over the shop and it’s been nice to see this person, and this person.

Julien: It certainly didn’t feel like we are in some kind of competition. So, the means of expression have been reduced, but instead of creating competition it’s created more – 

Mitch: – LOVE! There’s love in the room tonight. 

Julien: I really feel… I’m really excited to see what will happen… It’ll be a beautiful firework of expression. I think we will come out of this situation with a real scene in Norwich. When I arrived, I heard there was no real scene here. Everyone was in their own corner and it’s brought everyone together. 

Mitch: it’s very exciting. Just trembles your heart. L-O-V-E, babe.

Julien: It makes it even more frustrating, going into a new lockdown, because it feels like it’s gonna push this back. 

So, you guys have your music video coming out and a single coming on the 16th of November, where can we find all of this? 

Jack: The video will be on YouTube and the single will be on Bandcamp which you can find on our website, and you can listen on streaming sites as well. 

Julien: We have preference with TIDAL, because they are very kind to artists.

You can check out the video to Floral Image’s single ‘Why I Leave’ here.


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Morgan Burdick

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October 2021
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