Exclusive Interview With Flight Facilities
If you hadn’t noticed, Hugo & Jimmy aka Flight Facilities, are going strong. They have steadily been rising ever since releasing ‘Crave You’ in 2010. They can afford to consistently release only one track a year. In fact, that’s obviously a winning formula for the indie/electronic act. There is no chance that you missed ‘Crave You’, ‘Clair De Lune’ or more recently ‘Stand Still’, right?
Immensely popular in their home country Australia, the musical duo has spread their wings, ready to slowly but surely conquer the rest of the world with their tour through the US and now Europe. Aside from their immensely well-received (yet scarce) original releases and remixes, the boys of Flight Facilities are still shrouded in mystery. The duo prefers to let their music do the talking. Wednesday May 7th they will be performing at de Melkweg in Amsterdam. That’s why we thought it to be the perfect moment for a chat with the world-touring Australians.
First thing’s first: How did you guys meet and come together as a group?
We met through hanging out at a lot of the same parties. We have a very close group of friends in Sydney so it was inevitable that we’d eventually meet and party together. From there it was a matter of finding out about each other’s music tastes. That was the main reason we started working together. One of us was working in a pizza shop beneath a music studio. So the constant deliveries and poor excuses to visit made the decision a lot easier.
Who are the major influences for Flight Facilities?
A lot of old music and a lot of new music. Obviously the new influences are people like Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers. Some of the older music are bands like ELO, Chic, Billy Joel, The Doobie Brothers (and the list could go on forever). We guess the real influences here are our parents. They’ve been the greatest definers in our musical tastes.
You guys tend to put a ridiculous amount of work into one song at a time. As a consequence, you don’t produce a lot of singles a year. How is this working out for you?
We’ve been able to play to some huge crowds and alongside some bands that have released multiple albums. So, in short, way better than we ever could have imagined. But we’re working on releasing more music, more often. It’s just the nature of being perfectionists. But in a market that expects frequent content, it’s worked somewhat in our favour.
The Flight Facilities costumes come from your granddads’ airline company right? What would he think if he would see you in it?
Initially, he probably would have hated the fact that I was a DJ. He was old school and was all about the conventional style of work so he wouldn’t have allowed it at first. I think he expected me to be a lawyer. But since Flight Facilities has gathered a bit of success, maybe he’d be okay with it now. He passed away in 1999 so I guess I’ll never know. I like to think he would have come around to it eventually. He understood hard work and perseverance pretty well, the same as we do. So maybe that would have eased his mind about the whole thing.
Does the costume still help you guys not to get recognized too much on the streets?
We’re not sure if we’re of a big enough status to be ‘spotted’ but we know our costumes provide a definite disguise. We’ve had occasions where we’ve walked off stage and straight into the crowd, spoken face to face with people in the front row and they’ve had absolutely no idea it was us. It’s pretty funny to see how much comouflage a hat can provide.
Is anonymity important to you? And if it is, why is that exactly?
Very important. Everybody enjoys privacy. The ability to be a little bit stupid in public is something everyone wants to be able to do without consequence, even if they don’t know it. Kissing a girl, having a drink, partying with friends, etc. Social media has now given us the ability to put the smallest details of our life online, and once that’s happened, it’s out there forever. There’s now an expectation for everyone to be forthcoming with even the finest details of their life via Facebook location services, a twitter feed and especially Instagram photos. People need to learn to be more careful about the parts of their life they choose to share. You never know where you might be in 5 years and how it could impact your work, social or family life. Maintaining some level of anonymity means we don’t have to curb our comfortable behaviour to fit in with a different expectation.
In a previous interview you both said you love to think of Daft Punk as a couple of robots. What kind of dimension adds this anonymity to their music?
The anonymity basically makes it all about the music and essentially, that’s the most important thing. Now Daft Punk’s image precedes them. The emotionless robot faces make them look instantly cool and unphased (if the music didn’t already), and anything they do sounds and appears automatically futuristic. It’s almost as if the anti-marketing of their true identities has worked in exactly the opposite fashion. Whether or not it was intentional, it’s very clever.
Flight Facilities is sometimes compared to Daft Punk. Why do you think that is and how do you feel about that?
The music video for ‘With You‘ feat. Grovesnor was a huge reason for the comparison (believe it or not it was a coincidence on the animator’s part. Not that we were unhappy about it, we loved it). Otherwise, we think listening to so much of their music and referencing it has probably drawn quite a few musical similarities. We’re huge fans of theirs so it’s only natural we look to them for inspiration. When they released RAM, quite a few of our fans noticed similarities between our music and theirs. That felt pretty great. We felt like maybe, musically, we had been onto the right thing since we started. We’ll always be humbled by any comparison to them, but to us, they’re on a whole other level. They’ve always been something to aspire to.
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You guys once claimed to be from Trinidad Tobago and another time to be Calvin Harris. What jokes have you pulled off with friends recently?
Mostly we’re just pretty immature. Posting a status when someone leaves their Facebook logged in, taking photos of each other’s ugly sleeping faces on planes and a lot of fart jokes. Having a sense of humour and some fun keeps you sane on tour. We try not to take ourselves too seriously in such a disposable industry.
Do you get to see enough of your friends often enough or are you guys always busy working on music or touring?
Being in the music industry means you end up having a huge circle of friends throughout the world. We tend to miss the friends from home when we’re on tour but we never feel totally alone because there’s usually a friend or two in each city we head to. It’s pretty important to maintain a healthy balance of work and social life. One always makes the other more exciting and inspiring to return to.
What do you listen to, when touring?
Mostly whatever is on our iPhones. I (Hugo) haven’t updated my iPhone music in about 2 years but I’m still not sick of the Mickey Moonlight album (Mickey Moonlight & The Time Axis Manipulation Corporation). There’s something to be said for that. I can listen to it start to finish without a second thought.
And how do you get along together while touring?
We love and hate each other like brothers. We’ve argued about some of the most pathetic and useless stuff. It’s on the verge of childish and embarrassing sometimes. So it’s important to get time to ourselves when possible. It recharges the batteries and keeps us sane. But we’ve been doing it for four years so there’s not much we can’t overcome.
Your music videos are extremely popular on YouTube. Who comes up with the ideas for them and what is your part in creating those videos?
We’ve only done 2 of the videos ourselves (the unofficial cut together footage for ‘Foreign Language’ and ‘I Didn’t Believe’) otherwise we leave the treatments up to the directors of the video. Dave Ma has done our two most recent. He’s incredible at what he does and has a beautiful eye for music videos in particular. We’re only really responsible for signing off on the director. The rest is up to them.
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Where do you prefer playing: at a small scale venue or a big festival?
Small venues are just as comparable to the big ones. The big festivals are exciting to play at because of the huge noise and sheer volume of people. But the smaller venues feel more intimate and have a more personal vibe. It’s hard to pick a favourite between the two.
What can we expect from your gig at De Melkweg? Any unheard material you are going to be surprising the crowd with?
There’s a new song with a Willy Wonka sample that everyone can listen to and then there’s also our vocalist Owl Eyes who will be singing with us. She’ll be singing all our songs with female vocals and will eventually feature on one of our songs to be released later in the year.
What do you hope the audience will experience or take away from your performance at De Melkweg?
We’ve only been to Amsterdam once, and it was only for a day. So we hope we get a similar response to the last time we were here. The audience broke out in a flash mob. All we can hope for is that the audience takes away enough to want us to come back again.
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You guys are about to go on a tour again. What is the nicest place you have visited so far in previous tours?
We’ve done a couple of gigs in the mountains of Italy which were just unbelievable. We’d never have thought our music could take us there. Other than that, we’ve really enjoyed places like Japan because of the people and the culture. It’s always hard picking a favourite. We’ve been very lucky to visit some beautiful countries.
What is touring in Europe like in comparison with Australia or the US?
Everywhere is different from city to city. At home, Australians are crazy and we’re locals so it all feels very comfortable and familiar. America varies from coast to coast. New Yorkers tend to watch more than dance, Washington DC and Vancouver are crazy party machines, San Francisco knows its electronic music back to front. Europe we’re only just getting to know again, but we feel like it has the richest dance music culture of anywhere in the world. We tend to get the impression everyone is up to speed with the newest and most underground stuff. This tour is going to be a real eye opener for us.