Canadian singer-songwriter Flower Face has a voice that stretches way beyond her 19 years, taking her influences from Conor Oberst, Big Thief and The National. We sat down with her to talk inspiration and the commodification of art.
Firstly, loving the name Flower Face, what is the story behind that title?
Thank you! “Flower face” is what my grandmother called me when I was a little kid. She used to say that when I smiled, my face opened like a flower. Back when I decided to start recording music, a very spur-of-the-moment thing, I set up a Bandcamp and needed a name for it. Flower Face came to mind immediately.
What first got you into music?
God, I don’t even know where to start. I’ve been into music since before my brain could create memories, I think. My dad has always been a really musical person, in bands and working in radio and all that. He was always playing guitar or drums or piano and putting on music in the car. It’s because of him that I fell in love with a lot of the artists and bands that formed my understanding and appreciation of music. I started playing piano when I was six and went through all the conservatory levels. My parents got me a guitar for Christmas when I was 15 and I taught myself to play it. At that point I already had an album out.
Who would say are your biggest inspirations?
Inspiration is hard to name. It depends on what it’s inspiring me to do! When it comes to writing music, obviously there are a lot of bands and artists I’ve listened to along the way that made me want to do it myself: Conor Oberst, Bright Eyes, The National and Big Thief are usually the ones I name; but the times I get truly inspired to write are when I see other smaller musicians doing exactly what I do. When I stumble on someone’s Bandcamp or go to a small venue show and see someone who’s doing it all independently, it’s almost reassuring. Like right, this is what I do. Now let’s keep going.
When writing music and lyrics, do you have a ritual or a specific routine, or a happy place to write?
I have absolutely no routine or favourite place to write. I know that’s a terrible answer. I wish I did! That would probably make it easier. I have phone notes and journals full of one liners that just pop into my head, usually at inconvenient moments. I write songs in my head at work a lot. When I sit down and try to make myself write it never works and I end up feeling really sorry for myself. It sucks. But then I’ll be in the middle of class or something and suddenly I’ve got three songs and an interlude running through my head.
Who would you like to collaborate with, if anyone?
Perfume Genius! His music now is totally different from mine but his older records had a big influence on me. Also, he did this collaboration with Christine and the Queens that makes me weep every time I hear it. Mike, if you’re reading this, I’ve got like fifteen songs I want you to sing on.
Baby Teeth is your new album, with a new song ‘April To Death’; your lyrics are very honest and dark, how long have you been working on this?
My producer Josh and I started working on this record in early 2016. Some of the songs I wrote earlier than that though, around mid 2015. So it has been in the works for quite a while. My lyrics have always been like that, though! I’ve been dark since I was a preteen recording weird ambient tracks on my dad’s computer.
For your single ‘Honey And Milk’ you’ve had over 125K streams, with no label support or management whatsoever. You must be proud of yourself, has this been difficult?
Honestly it wasn’t difficult because it’s nothing I did myself, it just happened! I feel lucky. It’s an amazing thing, to be heard. I wish I knew how to self promote and get my stuff out there, but I kind of just wait until the right person likes it and shares it. That’s how it happens.
What wisdom have you acquired so far that you could give to young musicians and song writers like yourself who are trying to break into the industry?
Don’t think of it like a business. Don’t focus on success. Make your art! Don’t sacrifice your artistic integrity in order to appeal to people. And never let anyone tell you what to write about! For a while I struggled with that a lot, not wanting to hurt people’s feelings or whatever. Now I just tell them if they don’t want to hear about themselves in a song they shouldn’t fuck with me!
Where do you see yourself in about five years?
In an ideal world, on tour with my band, on our way to headline a festival, reading Pitchfork’s 10.0 review of my latest record. But most likely I’ll be right where I am now, drinking wine in the bathtub and watching Gossip Girl.
Questions by Romey Norton
Image: Mystic Sons PR