Introducing... Auntie Flo
The blustering horns, party-fuelling rhythms and tropical spirit of long serving Glaswegian promoters Huntleys and Palmers are set to take over Room Three on Saturday. Resident tastemaker, Andrew Thomson and key artists Auntie Flo, Sophie, Alejandro Paz and Esa will be showing off their quick hitting mixing talents to give you a lesson in how to shake your rump to their polyrhythmic afro beat drenched house.
Having recently dipped their hand into the record label business Huntleys and Palmers signed Glasgow resident Auntie Flo, aka Brian d'Souza, to release two singles, ‘Highlife’ and ‘Oh My Days’ (which went on to sell out), last year. Quickly picked up in the sets of Ricardo Villalobos and with everyone from Weatherall to Levon Vincent in sync with the Flo vision, we can sense that his upcoming body of work, the ‘Future Rhythm Machine’ mini album due out in May, will be heralded in a similar vein. Read on to get d’Souza’s personal take on the project and much, much more...
First up, what’s in the name Auntie Flo?
Auntie Flo is named after my 90 year old Goan Auntie, who lives in a tiny village in north Goa with her cat. Auntie Flo is NOT a reference to a woman’s monthly cycle which has been pointed out a few times and is a slightly unfortunate coincidence!
You’ve been DJing in Glasgow over the past ten years. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the electronic music community there this past decade?
Glasgow has always had an amazing music scene, especially in electronic music. To be honest, I’m struggling to think of any major changes. Although having its ups and downs over the years, the scene has remained consistently strong. I guess it’s getting more recognition now than ten years ago but back then you still had a fantastic output and throughput of DJs/acts coming here. One thing I’ve noticed is people, promoters and DJs around me getting younger and younger whilst I get older and older!
Over on the Feel My Bicep blog we read you’re a music psychologist. Can you tell us more?
I studied psychology at Uni and focussed as much as possible on music. The power of music to affect behaviour, mood and health is fascinating to me, as is the way it can work on a subconscious and conscious level. In western culture we still criminally undervalue music’s importance, when I would say it is fundamental to our core being – new born babies are musical before they can talk!
In a business setting, there are some amazing studies pinpointing music’s ability to influence what you buy. An off licence can triple the sales of a particular region of wine just by playing appropriate music.
I run a ‘music design’ company called Open Ear where we offer playlisting services to businesses via an online platform. We help businesses harness the power of music to help create suitable environments for their brand and customer. We also champion independent music so any labels reading this should get in touch!
The afrobeat rhythms you slice up in your sets are genre-defying and authentic in style, where would you say your sound originates from? Who have been the biggest inspirations to you in your development as an artist?
The polyrhythmic nature of African music is really interesting to me, its dance music but a new challenge for my ears and for dancing which makes it really fresh. The fact that loads of new producers are making tracks that reference or are directly influenced by this is what excites me as a DJ right now. I guess I got bored with just a constant 4/4 thud from start to finish and as a DJ I get easily bored with music that is just designed to fit into a scene or genre. Overly derivative music sucks!
I’m not sure if the willingness to jump from genre to genre comes from the Glasgow thing – Optimo was probably the main influence here but I’m pretty sure I would play a mixed bag regardless of being brought up in their shadow. I hate reciting a list of direct influences but currently Caribou, Four Tet, Ricardo Villalobos, Kode 9 (although probably more for Hyperdub and his writing than his own music), Ame, Matias Aguayo are all producers I’ve paid close attention to for a long period of time.
How did you hook up with the Huntleys and Palmers crew?
I’d known Big Andy for years when he was living in Glasgow. I respected his outlook and the guests he used to book for the H+P nights. We got together to promote our Highlife night in summer 2010 and this was around the same time as I began producing as Auntie Flo again (I had originally used that moniker back in 2003).
Tell us about the Highlife EP, winning support from the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Giles Peterson and Caribou. How did it feel to get such an overwhelming response on your first release?
It’s weird in the 21st century what the barometer of ‘success’ is. I guess before it was sales, how high your song charted etc but with our highly broken down long tail of a scene having these guys playing your music really helps. As soon as we found Ricardo had played it Rub A Dub (our distributor) called to say they needed more copies! Having said that, having some of my musical heroes listen and appreciate your music is a nice thing. I liked how we were going to give a free copy to folk like Weatherall and Levon Vincent but they had already bought it!
Who are the artists you like to go and check out for a bit of musical inspiration and to let loose on the dancefloor?
For musical inspiration, I try to check out whatever sound installation stuff is going on. I was gutted to miss the recent Kusama/Actress show at the Tate but I hope to go and check out the show anyway.
For letting loose on the dancefloor, I am still a massive Italo disco fan. I used to run a night called Slabs of the Tabernacle with the guys behind Tabernacle Records. We put on proper parties moving from jackin’ Chicago house to Detroit techno, Dutch electro and Italo. The Italo ones were my favourite, one highlight was when we brought over one of the originators, Casco for a set before he passed away last year. Even though he was seriously ill, he was still jumping on the turntables and going mental. The moment when he played The Immortals ‘The Ultimate Warlord’ is probably one of my best clubbing memories.
Can you tell us about your new body of work ‘Future Rhythm Machine’ out next month?
We weren’t sure if it could be called an album as its only 8 tracks. Semantics aside, the album title is taken from Kodwo Eshun’s ‘More Brilliant Than The Sun’. In it, he talks about the dis-continuous rhythm machine that is found in afrofuturist music - black music from the black Atlantic from blues, soul, hip hop, house, techno. The album explores the notion of the future re-cylcing the past, and samples old rhythm and drum patterns or ‘breaks’ from African and Latin records but puts my spin on them using new analogue and digital equipment. I like when you can listen to an album all the way through so there are purposefully no big singles on it, rather each track explores a different variation on the theme. I was lucky to be able to work with South African Esa Williams (who is also ½ of Auntie Flo live) and Chilean Mamacita on vocals.
If we were going to come to one of your residency nights at Highlife what could we look forward to that was different from anything we’ve got going on in London?
Although we have guest DJ's and live performers at Highlife we try not to focus on the guest as the main attraction. Instead we create a theme for each night and add visual installations or other elements that help deliver a unique experience at every night we do. For example, when Actress played we centred around ‘The Journey to the Depths of the Black Atlantic’, making the club pitch black with only some monochrome visuals providing light. Conversely, when Alejandro Paz played last summer we did a ‘Tribute to the Sun’ party, hiring an ‘Audience Blinder’ light usually used for big festivals (our club holds 150 people) and providing everyone with Sunglasses. The DJ's were able to control the ‘Sun’ which created an amazing effect at times throughout the night. Check out some videos online.
For Rebolledo we gave out free Mexican food and for Shackleton the place was decorated with loads of skulls taken from a film set. Finally, Raoul K played at our Witchdoctor dance and we made a special homebrew which we gave out free to everyone on the night! More recently, we’ve been doing more nights at the Sub Club and I’ve drafted Esa in as a resident DJ. Together we play from decks and FX with a live percussion set up.
How are you looking forward to your Room Three date on Saturday with Esa, SOPHIE, Alejandro Paz and Andrew. Can you tell us a bit about the other artists and why those new to Huntleys & Palmers should come down?
Playing fabric feels like the culmination of a lot of hard work that all the artists and label have been putting in over the past few years. We’ve hosted label parties at Plastic People in London, in Glasgow, in Barcelona and elsewhere but this is the big one. We know we are relatively unknown as artists but hope people can take some time to venture in to Room Three to hear something fresh, a wee bit different but a lot of fun. Most importantly it will make you want to dance.
I’m hyped to be playing tracks from the album for the first time and I know Alejandro and SOPHIE have some amazing music which is waiting to be released on the label that they will be able to showcase. Every time these tracks have been dropped so far it’s been to devastating effect.
Finally, what’s your post-rave remedy?
I have one simple rule: Eggs on a Saturday, Bacon rolls on the Sunday.
Catch Auntie Flo in Room Three for Huntley & Palmers on Saturday.