In conversation with Fruit & Flowers

We sent our writer Ella Patenall down to Fruit & Flowers gig at The Lock Tavern a few weeks ago. She managed to have a chat with the band on the night 

So, tonight was the last gig on your UK tour! How did it go? Are you sad it’s over or ready to go back home?

Ana Becker: The tour went great! We feel happily sad. There’s a Portuguese word for it: saudade.

Jose Berrio: There were people we met throughout the tour, in other cities like Manchester and Guildford, who traveled to London for the final show. It felt like the ending of Big Fish: just seeing all the characters in one place at the end.

Caroline Yoder: We had an amazing time here in the UK, but we have exciting stuff coming up at home, too.

How would you sum up the tour in three words?

Where is Caroline?

Where was your favourite gig you played in the UK?

We have different favourites for different things! I think our favourite city was Brighton (sorry, London! We love you, too!) though there were things we loved about everywhere we went. We also loved the other bands we played with in Brighton: Sit Down, Dead Naked Hippies, and Dr. Brian’s Magic Gong Salad. Prize for most difficult & yet memorable band name goes right there. That was definitely a favourite show-going experience. Our favourite show-playing experience was maybe the Rock & Bowl fest in Market Drayton. It was fun to play on a proper festival stage. A favourite for sentimental reasons may have been the show we played at The Underground in Stoke-on-Trent. We had an especially great time with the folks there. Keep your eyes out for Lilac Noise!

You describe your sound as ‘surf noir’; what exactly is that? What or who inspires your sound?

“Surf noir” makes me think of surf-inspired rock music with a darker, moodier vibe. Something between The Beach Boys, Bauhaus, Black Sabbath, Black Angels, Bush Tetras, and The Bangles. In other words… we’re figuring it out as we go, and as we write.

What do you like to write about, and what or who inspires your lyrics?

The lyrics for the songs on Drug Tax are pretty impressionistic: moments in city life, waiting for trains, hot weather, dreaming of being other places, getting lost in our own minds, thinking about people from our present and past. On the title track, we’re exploring the struggle of attempting to create and think and just survive in a capitalist society, and in city whose values represent that society, giving our best effort to make art surrounded by concrete, neon and glass.

Where did the name Fruit & Flowers come from?

The name Fruit & Flowers comes from what record labels used to call drugs & other “entertainment” on their tax returns.

Your debut album was titled Drug Tax: what does that refer to?

It ties in with the name of the band. But past that, it has to do with the themes that song in particular explores. Thinking differently, class struggle, paying dues in an unforgiving society, etc. Honestly, not much to do with actual drugs!

How did you get together?

We each dialed the same “for a good time call” phone number scrawled in the bathroom at Our Wicked Lady.

What’s the “bushwick loft” story?

It was hot and we wrote a lot of music. When the band first started were all spending a lot of time in the same loft; unstructured time, with instruments around, and it lead to a lot of creativity. Also, we’d booked our first show before we had any songs finished, so I was sleeping on the couch there every night as we scrambled to throw together enough music to play the show. Most of those songs make up the Drug Tax EP.

What’s the music scene like for emerging artists in NY?

I guess that depends who you ask. New York City is a ridiculous, exhausting place to live. People in NY are very focused on what they’re doing, and what they’re trying to achieve; if they weren’t, they’d live somewhere else. There are a fucktonne of fantastic bands in NYC. So I think it’s sometimes tough to get a foothold into a scene that’s caring and mutually supportive; but once you find it, it’s real as hell. We all know how tough it is and there are a lot of people doing their best to make the scene a diverse and welcoming place. There’s still a lot of work to do.

What advice would you give to musicians starting out?

Go to a ton of shows. Be nice to people, it matters. Write all the time. Practice, even when you don’t feel like it, together and on your own. Demoing ideas really helps solidify songs. What else? I don’t know? I consider myself still starting out, as well. Can I have some advice too, please?

What’s next for you?

We’ve got a lot of writing to do; excited to be working on a follow-up record. More news on that soon! We’ve also got some super fun shows this summer. Just went to Canada for Ottawa Explosion, in August we’ll be playing some music on a BOAT, and probably more touring in the fall. Hopefully we’ll be back in the UK before we know it!

Interview by Ella Patenall

Image: Holly Peck

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