flor Interview: "We learn something every day from every tour."

flor Interview: "We learn something every day from every tour."

We met the minds behind flor's vulnerable and meaningful songs.
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Approximately one year after their debut album, come out. you're hiding, was released, flor brought their eclectic sounds to The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC while supporting Misterwives. They combine their synth-pop instrumentals with personal, nuanced lyrics to create the signature "flor sound." But with the upbeat, synth-driven melodies come vulnerable and thought-provoking lyrics about "heartache, anxiety, and self-doubt," creating a captivating juxtaposition.

The West Coast-based band had never traveled to Asheville before, so we welcomed singer/guitarist Zach Grace, guitarist McKinley Kitts, bassist Dylan Bauld, and drummer Kyle Hill with open arms on May 8 when they shared their thoughts on touring, songwriting, and their fanbase.

Singer/guitarist Zach Grace


Sophie Harris: Is this your first time in Asheville? What do you think of it?

Zach Grace: It is, and it’s so freaking beautiful! I always forget about these mountains and I really need to stop doing it because they’re so beautiful.

McKinley Kitts: Yeah, it’s like a jungle here. The drive from Nashville was beautiful. Very lush.

Guitarist McKinley Kitts


SH: So you guys have had a really big year. Your album just came out almost exactly a year ago.

ZG: It’s coming up on our first anniversary - May 19. It’s been a really fun year, all because of the album. It’s done some great things for us.

MK: We supported [artists] and built up off the album for a while, and then we finally went out in February for our first full headlining tour.

ZG: And we’re gonna be braving the next one in Europe. We just went over there for the first time a month ago.

MK: Yeah, we supported Walk the Moon in Europe and the UK. And then the day after we finished that tour, we announced our Europe and UK headline tour in September.

SH: I love how you’ve toured with a bunch of different people, like Paramore, Bleachers, Lostboycrow…they span across all these different genres.

MK: I think it’s good to bring people in from all walks of life. And it showed on the headline tour. There was no consistency amongst [the ages of] our fans. There were kids at some show, and then people in their sixties kissing each other in the back.

ZG: And loving flor. flor is what unites all the ages.

Drummer Kyle Hill


SH: So how have all those genres meshed together to influence your style?

ZG: All of us have such eclectic tastes. You’ll have McKinley pumping the country jams one day while we’re driving down the road, [meanwhile] Dylan’s listening to his sweet urban and alt-pop stuff. We just like to appreciate good melodies and good lyrics, whether it’s a song that makes you feel good or a song that makes you feel awful.

MK: We try to have variety from the album to the live show. The album is really sleek - it’s not rough around the edges. But the live show has a little more of the elements. We try to bring a little bit of a different flavor to the live show.

ZG: Yeah, I think that more so than anything, playing with all these different artists has really just given us an understanding of what we want to do with our live show.

MK: We learn something every day from every tour.

ZG: Maybe we can’t really dive into the style of Lostboycrow. And Bleachers is so…Bleachers. When you see Jack Antonoff control a room like he does, you can’t help but be like “I want that when we play music. I want that feeling.”

MK: We’re absorbing little pieces of wisdom and energy from whoever we tour with. Hodgepodge-ing it together on top of what we already have.

ZG: Oh yeah. We keep the “flor style” too.

Singer/guitarist Zach Grace, guitarist McKinley Kitts, and drummer Kyle Hill


SH: Zach, you’re the main songwriter...I noticed it’s very vulnerable. I have trouble expressing my emotions, much less writing them down. So, how was the whole songwriting process a challenge?

ZG: It took me about six years before I even thought to start bringing my songs to these guys. Like, that’s about how long it took before the “flor sound” was even an idea. And even then, it was Dylan saying, “Zach, what you’re doing is good enough, and you can work with us.” And me being like, “I don’t know, I’m not sure!”

Dylan Bauld: What I secretly think is that he was holding back because we weren’t good enough yet, so it would be a way for us to actually get to his level. And he’s like, “Okay, you guys can have these songs.”

ZG: We’ll roll with that one because it makes me look awesome...But, no, it’s obviously a really, really hard thing to do. Maybe it’s not a hard thing for most people, but for me, it’s a hard thing to believe that what I’m saying has value and, more importantly, will mean something to people. It’s really easy to think, “This means something to me, this impacts me, but how can it impact the rest of the world?” You don’t really know if that’s the case until you put it out.

SH: Is there a certain song that you guys feel the closest to?

MK: I think we’ve all kind of come to the conclusion that “warm blood” is most indicative of the “flor sound" melodically. And the way it comes together live, especially. If someone says, “Play me a song,” it’s not like, “Oh, here’s our banger.” It's like, “Here’s the one that sounds like flor.”

ZG: It accomplishes everything I want a song to accomplish. And that’s a really nice feeling.

Bassist Dylan Bauld


SH: So, “rely” was just released as a single...What’s next for flor? Are you gonna release any other singles from the album, or are you gonna start releasing new stuff?

MK: We’re not totally sure yet - we’re still workshopping things. We’re constantly writing and recording, so throughout this summer after our festival runs we’ll be in a studio.

DB: There are a lot of new songs that we’re really stoked on that we can’t wait to release in the near future.

ZG: Yeah, we’re really pumped to take a break after this tour and just sit down and be creative with each other and see what happens.

MK: We’ve been writing on the road, which has been great, but it also inhibits us from being in the studio. So it will be good to kind of sit down and let loose a bit.

ZG: Being on the road is wild because it makes me the most creative. I’ll be in a van, and I’ll have song idea after song idea. But I can’t do anything but just sit there and [make a] voice memo.

MK: There’s always stuff materializing. Whether it’s notepad notes from Zach, or Kyle playing like a simple drum beat during soundcheck. There are lots of tidbits floating around, and [we're] putting it all together and creating something special.

Singer/guitarist Zach Grace and drummer Kyle Hill


SH: Do you have any kind of message that you want to give your fans?

MK: We have a family here. It’s a safe space, as far as belonging. We have a really special group of fans that get along really well together, and it’s a positive environment. We’re lifting each other up.

ZG: Every fan already knows that we’re incredibly thankful for them. Because every band should be incredibly thankful to their fans. They’re the only reason we exist.

flor on stage at The Orange Peel, surrounded by loving fans


Full gallery of flor in Asheville available here.

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Cover Image Credit: Sophie Harris

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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