Rock n’ Recipes: Flowertown

It’s been a hot minute since we’ve done a proper run with Rock n’ Recipes, so wanted to return this year with a banger; we were fortunate enough to catch up with Mike and Karina of Flowertown. They recently announced that they’ll be putting two of their recent EPs for Paisley Shirt Records onto one great LP for Mt. St. Mtn. If you’re not familiar with the duo, you might have heard lots of buzz about their other projects like Cindy or Tony Jay, but jump below to catch up on the current work! Pre-Order the LP HERE.

ATH: So, the bio says that the two of you weren’t able to play a show together with your other projects (due to the pandemic), thus leading to the creation of Flowertown. But, to any listener, there seems to be a natural ease in the songwriting. Were the two of you close prior to the band, or did it truly blossom out of circumstance?

MIKE: Prior to Flowertown, we played together in our friend David Castillos band, Panaderia, playing covers of Jeanette covers. I think we definitely benefit from a certain amount of overlap in musical taste, but still differ enough to bring elements to the table the other normally wouldn’t. The idea to collaborate just barely predates COVID / shelter-in-place. And the first Flowertown cassette is basically a document of us learning how to work and play together (which thankfully was quite easy).

KARINA: I remember when Mike asked if I would be interested in playing keys in Panaderia. I pointed out the obvious thing I don’t know how to do anything on a keyboard. He assured me that that didn’t matter and it turned out he was right. That origin of our working on music together set the tone you could say…

ATH: Staying in the same territory…now that the world’s starting to open up a bit, how much attention will Flowertown get going forward? Is there a future going forward, or will the other projects once again take precedence? Do you envision a Flowertown tour?

MIKE: To be honest, I think we were both surprised by the reception FT has received. It started as just a recording project but weve played one livestream show and have another one booked for April 8th which i think is a benefit for a local venue called The Knockout. Personally, i would love to play more shows and tour to support both our S/T record on Mt.St.Mtn as well as our next release which should be out on Paisley Shirt Records sometime this summer.

KARINA: Yeah, Flowertown has taken on an unexpected life of its own. It has kept its spontaneous ease and fun. For me, it’s very different from how I write and develop songs for my other project, Cindy both in practical ways (Mike and I write most songs pretty collaboratively) and in terms of where the music comes from within me and which parts of my experience get expressed. I feel lucky to have both projects.

ATH: What’s been the hardest part about being a musician during the pandemic? Has there been any upsides on your end?

MIKE: 2020 was actually my most productive year so far. Somehow i was lucky enough to be able to harness all the extra time and energy creatively. FT recorded 2 EPs and 1 full length. As Tony Jay i was able to record a new album, and both April Magazine and Al Harper have vinyl releases due out in the next few months as well. The stepback from socializing as we once knew it definitely took its toll both mentally and emotionally, but thankfully music was there to help.

KARINA: 2020 was productive for me music-wise, too. One thing I know I have missed is the subtle vetting process of live shows I get to know songs differently when I play them in front of real humans in the same room with me. It’s different to release songs that have only lived private lives so far. But, the hard part, I think is just the weight of suffering happening globally of course, that’s not special to the pandemic but 2020 was doubtless intense and at moments definitely stopped me in my tracks.

ATH: Speaking of the pandemic, once the world gets back to normal (ish) what is the one thing you’re looking forward to doing, music or otherwise?

MIKE: I really miss being able to travel and see friends in other places.

KARINA:Yeah, getting to see friends and my family, going to shows, playing shows. I also have an appetite to take some kind of really postcard vacation I’ve never felt that before.

ATH: It seems like San Francisco has had ups and downs as far as being a hub of music, but it seems like right now its one of the best places to be in regards to crafting art. What are the perks of the scene as it stands? Best band we have no idea about?

MIKE: perks..?? Aside from the drink tickets, I’d have to say it’s the feeling of camaraderie and acceptance within the SF / Bay Area scene that I’ve experienced. Best band from SF ? Honestly, theres too many for me to rank Cindy (obviously), Mister Baby, Sad Eyed Beatniks, Umbrellas, Chime School, Blue Ocean, Stingy, Hectorine, Galore, The Snogs, RE Seraphin I know Im forgetting some !

KARINA: It’s a great place to be making music at the moment. I never played music at all before I moved here never even occurred to me so for me this is not only the best place but the only place and that’s because the scene that Flowertown is part of is shockingly supportive and engaged. People are genuinely interested in the music that is happening and will put in the effort to support each other by going to shows (in beforetimes), by being friends, by offering help and collaboration, lending gear and expertise, by being at least mostly honest about what they hear. All the bands Mike mentioned and more Tony Jay (obviously), April Magazine, The Reds, Pinks and Purples, The Lice, Blades of Joy, Ice Cream Head.

ATH: The LP is made up of the work from the previous two tapes…will the tracking order be the same as on each tape? Side A is Flowertown? Side B is Theresa Street? Was that ever even a thought? And, if you had to leave one song out there from the release that you felt was the statement track of the duo? What is it and why?

MIKE: Yep, the Mt.St.Mtn. LP is both EPs in their entirety, remastered yet preserving the original track order. We wanted to keep the feeling that each of those tapes was able to capture rather than messing with the track order which potentially could have made it feel a bit weird to us. My two favorite songs from this collection are probably The Rope and Theresa Street. I find The Rope to be really fun to play and i feel it strikes a great balance between my love for musical somberness and the patchwork of lint bits and pieces of inspiration we collected to construct the lyrical parts. The words in Theresa Street are often bouncing around my head. The song also reminds me of a nice walk Karina and i took one night last year.

KARINA: As you said: side A is the S/T and side B is Theresa Street. Flowertown is moody so I think I have to pick two songs: Natural Light and Good Year For The Bells. Natural Light because it was one of our first songs and came together really quickly and because the lyrics play on a running joke between me and Mike namely his dedication to the Friday The 13th movie opus. I’m often riffing on Mike’s enthusiasms in lyrics. Good Year For The Bells because it captures a mood that I think Mike and I both feel a lot kind of foggy, kind of nostalgic, but at the same time maybe knowing better. It’s also all unnamable, made-up chords so our notebook entries for this one are pretty hilarious.

ATH: You get to pick a dream line-up for your first “Back from the Pandemic” show. Who all gets to play on the bill?

MIKE: Our next show on 4/8 is only stream-able online (Live at the Knockout! Youtube channel), but for a return to in-person shows, i would love to play a cutty festival at HIT Gallery in SF with as many of the bands i listed above.

KARINA: Yeah, I think from this vantage point it’d have to be an epic bill to satisfy. For starters maybe: Flowertown, Mister Baby, The Umbrellas…

ATH: In a cook off, who wins? Cindy or Tony Jay?

MIKE: Hands down, Cindy wins. As far as I know, Tony Jay has never eaten anything or cooked anything.

KARINA: I don’t know about that. You know what they say about too many cooks in a kitchen…

Check out the great gallery below for a step-by-step recipe from Flowertown!

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