Flaurese talks early influences, his approach to collaboration and a new EP on the way.
Dance music has evolved in magnificent ways over the past decade as DJs, producers and artists command dance floors with new and innovative iterations of the genre. West London DJ and producer Flaurese immortalises parts of the genre’s history by stitching old samples with his sound bank of modern day influences. Prior to his debut in 2020 with the disco-laced EP ‘Sake Of Lust’, Flaurese had accumulated a depth of experience as a songwriter, sharpening his ability to translate aspects of his environment into sound.
He returns with another hair-raising dose of melodic house in the forms of “In My Arms” and “I Want You”, both featuring long-time friend CHARLTON and the former with voguing artist Jugu. Gushing with sensuality and potent rhythms, both tracks are inspired by the fierceness of voguing houses and Flaurese digging through old Masters At Work mixes. Both tracks are taken from his upcoming EP ‘Over My Shoulder’ and introduces us to a refreshing collection of sounds from someone who allows curiosity to propel their creativity.
In conversation with Notion, he shares the inspiration behind ‘Over My Shoulder’, the ways in which different environments influence his experience of dance music and listening to Steve Lacy’s new album on repeat.
- Full Look Harry Dickerson
- Shoes Dr. Martens
What was your first encounter with dance music? Do you remember what initially drew you to this particular style of music?
I wasn’t aware of the time, but a lot of the 80s synth disco that my mum would play and my aunts would listen to were an early introduction. My mum’s other love was dub, which again had these electronic, dance influences and bridges. Between dub and 80s synth disco, those were the first introductions. Then obviously on to garage, dubstep, grime and everything else.
What else did you grow up listening to that filters into the music you make today?
I’m gonna have to give a big ups to R&B. Songwriting-wise, and especially backing vocals, I just feel like there’s this magic in a lot of the 90s R&B that weave their ways in and out, especially if I’m writing over darker breakbeat pieces. Dub was the big one because I remember even beyond my mum listening to it, I started searching for stuff on Youtube.
How do your French-Guianese roots show up in your music?
I’m St. Lucian and my dad’s French-Guianese. As early as I can remember my dad was always playing Soca, so percussion and me wanting to play around and try out different drum combinations even till this day, has had a huge influence. I’ve been going to Notting Hill pretty much every year since I was a baby. Weirdly enough, old country and western music can be found across the whole of the Caribbean, I don’t know why but especially with my grandparents. I don’t know where the link started but that’s another one that rears its head.
- Jacket Song For The Mute
- Trousers CP Company
- Trainers Nike
You’ve spoken before about how different environments lead you to love different forms of dance music. Can you expand a bit on the link between your environment and the way you perceive and experience music?
From early memories, being on a football pitch for example, we’d have a few dudes who would turn up with their own little sound systems and it was almost as though they created a theme specifically for those Saturday mornings. If they didn’t turn up it was as though our performance wasn’t as good or as exciting, there wasn’t a drive. There’s certain tracks that instantly take me back to that football pitch. Comparing something like that to, say for example, when I was going to Corsica studios in 2009 and it’s quite a small space, probably 200-300 capacity at most. The level of intimacy there sat really well with early dubstep tracks that were coming from people like Mala or Benga & Coki. The energy was so different compared to when I’d go to Coronet Theatre for example, where it’s an old, huge, ampy theatre with 3 and a half thousand capacity. I think the whole mood and vibration was different but I’d come away from each place with different ideas. I’d go home and be like ‘I need to make tunes straight away’, but they’d be very different in theme and overall product.
- Full Look Song For The Mute
- Shoes Dr. Martens
When did you start learning to produce? Are you self-taught or were you guided in some way?
My main influence for getting into it was my brother DJing. He used to go to pirate radio stations and bring me along, or we’d go to vinyl shops and pick up influences. In terms of production itself, I’m pretty much self-taught. I studied in college and did a little internship afterwards in a studio, but with everything I’ve learnt it’s been online or with my friends at the time. I would say I kinda had a mentor, David, who taught me and my brother to DJ on vinyl. Our energy to want to produce came through him. It was at Chiswick youth club and he would give us like a Busta Rhymes or a Dizzee Rascal vinyl and tell us to mix them. Having those random influences definitely helped lead me to genre-merging in some of my tunes.
You’ve been releasing music since 2020, up until then what were you doing creatively?
It was a big mix. I was helping a lot of friends with additional production or just at the studio in the background, writing a few ideas, contributing some vocal ideas but just being in the shadows really. Outside of that I was helping friends with graphic design projects, whether that was digital assets, branding, clothing etc. Just poking my head in random spaces.
It’s been two years since you made your debut with ‘Sake Of Lust’, how has your understanding of dance music evolved from then?
The reaction I got from ‘Sake Of Lust’ has now opened me to a lot of tracks that are just sitting on a hard drive. I’ve repurposed them, reprogrammed drums, got additional vocals on top, so it’s changed shape and I’m a bit more comfortable now with the idea of switching the theme of my sound each release and not feeling like I have to drive down the same tunnel with each track. Getting that feedback from friends and random DJs from across the pond has given me the confidence to know that I can switch it up and people are not gonna compare it to the last release. It’s given me openness to experiment which I’ll be doing in my next releases and even on this EP, it’s a sign of being able to throw in different ideas and them still feeling like me but different at the same time.
- Shirt Jordan Luca
It’s hard to categorise your music under any genres aside from music that just makes you want to dance. Is there a deliberate elimination of genre during your creative process?
I think it’s unintentional. There was a period before ‘Sake Of Lust’ where I kept comparing a lot of the music I was making, thinking it didn’t hit this benchmark. I was thinking more from a genre perspective, for example, back in 2013/14 where you had post-dubstep and dubstep, I was like ‘Oh, this doesn’t fit in either of these banks’, but at the point ‘Sake Of Lust’ came out it was really nice. It’s definitely unintentional, but also down to the breadth of music I was listening to as a kid, I can’t help but throw something random in there.
You connected with CHARLTON and voguing artist Jugu on your recent track ‘In My Arms’. It was one of the tracks from your archives, so what made you want to collaborate with them to bring it back to life?
It was super organic and I’m always thankful to our friends that get it. You can send over a voice note or a little text, and somehow they just follow through and they’re able to calibrate what you’re trying to get across – which is sometimes difficult when you collaborate with new artists. In terms of the original energy behind the track, I looked at what the sample influences were. A track called ‘The Ha Dance’ by Masters At Work was a big influence. That is a voguing anthem and for me it didn’t serve that energy without the features. I was mumbling a few notes, putting some things together and as soon as I sent it to Jugu he just completely understood and it was within a day or two that we recorded. The track felt so different after it had a bit more call to action, it felt authentic as well. One of the things I was trying to be very careful of is not to just collaborate with anyone but to make sure that it was someone who was in the scene and understood the genre but most of all I just love Jugu’s energy. CHARLTON I’ve known since we were kids, so it was just me sending her over a batch of lyrics and her completely understanding and elevating the track so much more. Very thankful to both of them.
- Jacket Evisu
- Trousers Pronounce
- Trainers Nike
You seem to have a great ear for selecting who you feature on the track. Do you instantly know who you want to work with or do you have to sit with the music for a bit?
Yeah I tend to listen to maybe ten reference points or the original reference points before making the track and just cycle through the different vocal tones from various genres. Then in my head try and work out what each person would bring. I think the beauty of it is that most of the times I’m actually wrong and someone just surprises me because they’re able to do something that maybe they haven’t tried out on a track yet. They bring a completely different tone – it’s a bit more whispery or there’s a bit more passion that they’ve not shown on previous tracks and you’re just pleasantly surprised with what the outcome is.
Going back to “In My Arms”, you’ve spoken about being inspired by voguing houses and watching old clips of Masters At Work. What are some interesting things you’ve come across during your research into the genre’s history that may have inspired your new music?
It was a conscious effort to just look at the breadth of house examples and all the branches that are involved. So whilst I may have hit on ‘The Ha Dance’, it went right across the board to people like Marshall Jefferson, even on the techno side with artists like Actress, Addison Groove, SBTRKT. The overall thing was to understand their influences and where they may have picked up juice from. Even till this day when I hear LSDXOXO, I think there’s an element of raw Chicago and Detroit that still peaks its head throughout the voguing scene. And more importantly, even on Youtube just seeing random communities coming together each week and supporting each other. It feels so different to going to your average house gig now where it’s like cameras are out, people want to document things and people are maybe conscious of their outfits and they’re like I don’t want to dance too much or be seen as silly. Whereas looking at the old voguing footage, everything is about celebrating the person’s dance style, their approach, the MCs, it’s a huge part. Going back to Jugu I think that seeing those videos of them at the vogue parties just instantly gave me an idea of where the track could go. Looking at the historical aspects you see that same pattern of energy from footage that may have been recorded in 1989 to now, Jugu being in 2022, and you still feel that same vibe of wanting to get up and join in. It’s the level of openness, the respect for individuals’ differences but also what the original idea behind dance music was: to get up and move. That was the main point of cycling through those videos and getting lost in the rabbit whole.
How hands-on are you with the songwriting side of things? Do you bring ideas for what you want vocalists to do or are you open to their ideas too?
I would say I’m at the forefront and always trying to get my ideas across. It usually starts with humming, even sometimes before I’ve made the beat I’ll randomly put together a melody and record it into my phone. From those melodies, I put lyrics to some things. I might record the same idea for five voice notes and then by the fifth there’s a little bit more structure with the lyrics. It is a bit more abstract, I don’t think there’s a science to what I’m doing. It’s not like it’s validated in any way, it’s just very much like I what an idea, a melody, a hook, a verse and a lot of the times I would get in the studio or hook up with a pal and they would have to get through all the hums and there’s so many random words that don’t make sense so then I put it down on paper and it’s clearer which can be annoying for them. It just shows the randomness of the idea but there’s definitely no structure.
- Shirt Jordan Luca
What inspires your songwriting, how do you generate those ideas?
I’m always trying to hear new things – whether that’s like walking past a shop and someone’s playing something I haven’t heard before so I might record five seconds of it and come back to it in my room and replicate or try and find out how it was made. Across social media and YouTube, seeing old studio sessions and live sets with people like KiNK who always does the most amazing, ever-changing things you’ll see. You watch him and he’s got all these gizmos and random little gems on the table and you’re like where does he get it from, how much does it cost? You end up on forums, discussing with other people about what this piece of equipment is. Always being the student for me is the most important influence on what I make and how I make it. Old playlists and listening to the radio is a big one, shouts out to NTS, Worldwide FM, Balamii and all the rest of them always so many gems that I’ve never heard before so it’s beautiful to learn about them and go into a wormhole of looking for what the process behind them is.
Dance music has such a steep history, both in culture and technology, but most times the Black pioneers are written out of the story. As an artist, how do you honour the genre’s roots but still make room for your own originality and expression?
Collecting records and following some of the artists that were there from the beginning is one of my first points. Going back in archives, listening to old mixes from artists like Basement Jaxx or Groove Armada because you hear the journey and all the differences in the music they’ve made. My way of honouring is always trying to put a feeling of honesty into the production and bigging up the people that are involved in the process, whether that’s Jugu, CHARLTON, my mate Rowan who helps on mixing; it’s all about the ecosystem of who are involved. Especially the people who put on events because at the end of the day you can make as many dance tracks as you want but if the people are not there to facilitate it and create the spaces in which people can feel free to let loose and not worry too much about how they’re presented, giving those people a shout out is always the best way because that’s what makes this thing continue and what got me influenced in the first place. Involving those records, giving shout outs, involving them in your mixes and bringing old references mixed with new tracks is the best kind of homage.
What sort of ideas and experiences shaped the creation of your upcoming EP ‘Over My Shoulder’?
One of the main influences was going off the back of ‘Sake Of Lust’, and listening to it a few months later, I felt like it resembled the time period in which it was released. There was a sense of nervousness, a bit of sadness, a bit of thinking. A lot of people at the time were thinking about their existence, their job, their work-life balance and various other things. I think I’ve always prioritised having a bit of happiness in music, without sounding too cliches but I’m always an upbeat person so having a bleak representation is not something I’ll ever chase. With this EP it was like summer’s coming, maybe the first summer where people are not necessarily worrying about where they are, having to check apps to make sure they’re well and all these other things. I was thinking, ‘how many people can I make dance off the back of this?’ as a small ego challenge. Each track showed a different side to how I felt throughout summer in my mind but ultimately from R&B to disco to dub to garage, I just felt like these tracks were pulling on those strings of old influences whilst still feeling like a dance track. My brother introducing me to all of those sub genres is the biggest influence behind this EP, and the fact that there were so many tracks that I couldn’t put my finger or couldn’t put in a box and they stood the test of time because of that.
You speak about wanting to build a long-term story with your music. Do you have an idea of what that story is so far? How does the idea of longevity influence the way you create?
What I’m trying to build is, especially given the community that I’m from in West London, Shepherd’s Bush/Hammersmith, I’ve grown up seeing the music I was into being seen as odd. Whether that was electro-house or minimal tech or whatever I was listening to at the time, it was always seen as ‘nah bro, that’s weird’. In any way I can, I want to help contribute towards getting rid of that notion, that kind of separation from my local communities. Showing people and trying to get a bit of the heritage in there with house acid house came about, the movements in Manchester and various other parts of the country and people just seeing how many people that look like me or some of my pals in the communities who were listening to it at the time, it’s such an important thing. Even footage of Notting Hill carnival and them playing hard house and it’s something I never knew about, if you’re able to show people bridges to that, theres a level of comfortability that people will have going forward. But also, I don’t want a raver like myself to go into that environment as a young person and think that they’re not a part of it. Whether it be old school garage or funky house, they all have those bridges back to house disco and other sub genres. I think it’s about showing that, showing love to it and making people take pride in some of the genres a bit more and not thinking that they have to go elsewhere because it doesn’t fit with the area you grew up in.
What kind of music are you enjoying right now?
I’m actually heavily enjoying Steve Lacy’s album, that’s been on repeat. I’m still listening to old Little Dragon albums, picking up little production tips. I’ve been listening to old Todd Terje albums as well, just amazing production.