At the annual Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany; every September artists, fans and industry insiders from all over the World flock to the country’s second city to see lectures, shows and whatever’s shaping the music industry. With a special focus on emerging artists, it’s a great place to discover new favourite bands.
Alternative Pop trio Flawes aka Freddie Edwards, Josh Carruthers & Josh (Huss) Hussey, have driven over from London & Huddersfield, UK to join in the action with 4 shows at the festival, and we jumped at the chance to catch up with guitarist Freddie.
Yamaha Guitars: Hey Freddie! Thanks for squeezing us into your manic schedule. Let’s start out with describing Flawes for anyone who hasn't heard of you…
Freddie Edwards: Hey! No problem. We call our music Alternative Pop. We really like bands like London Grammar, Half Moon Run, Jack Garratt and Bruno Major. Our music sits somewhere in that genre!
YGs: Flawes is still a fairly new band, starting out in 2015. You're already signed to Red Bull Records, how did that come about?
FE: It was pretty cool actually. Our first single was called ‘Don’t Wait for Me’; it got picked up by BBC Introducing on Radio 1 as their ‘Track of the Day’, which meant it was played every day on the station for a week. Red Bull Records heard it and got in touch, we did a showcase for them and then we signed. Their ethos is very different to most labels; they only sign a few acts a year and put a lot of focus on longevity and building a band’s career.
YGs: They are still relatively new as labels go, and describe themselves as having an artist focus, boasting a “unique roster” of acts. What do you think differentiates them from more traditional labels?
FE: Well because they have such a huge brand, they have the financial backing of a major label, but the ethos is way more independant. They have have all the ties with all the extreme sports stuff too, so we get synced with some very cool videos.
They have the whole Red Bull Music channel too, which is separate to the label but we’ve done some stuff with them too, they’re really cool.
YGs: So, a bit of a deep one… for artists and fans things are certainly changing, in terms of the way that music is consumed. As an emerging artist, what are your views on this and how does it affect you personally?
FE: I think these days there are so many different aspects to being a musician. You have to understand social media, you have to understand business. I watched a Liam Gallagher clip that went viral recently of him making his own tea [Gallagher was complaining that musicians make no money anymore because nobody pays for their music https://youtu.be/ckUKrUqEesc], and I think what he said is true, you have to be a lot more savvy.
Spotify seems to be the main focus for a lot of bands now. We've just released 2 singles, we’re about to release the 3rd... and then a 4th! Just single after single basically. I think people’s attention spans are a lot smaller now. I used to listen to albums all the way through and loved that, but now that you have the option to click on that ‘Related Artist’ or the ‘Other Singles’ button it’s so easy to just listen to the harder hitting singles.
YGs: Many artists have spoken of the importance in the track listing order of their albums. It can certainly add to the listening experience, what are your thoughts on this?
FE: We’re coming to our album now and we want to do that, we want the have segways between the tracks on the album so that it’s intended to be listened to as a piece of work.
YGs: Continuing the the streaming topic, in an age where every song is available to us to stream for free and we're spoilt for choice, what is your strategy for how to get Flawes out there and noticed?
FE: It’s tough, I mean I think Spotify is a really powerful thing and playlisting, if you can get on those ‘New Music Friday’ playlists, that’s a huge thing and that's a great way to reach a whole new fanbase.
Other than that I think visuals are really important. We’re working with a guy now who is from a fine art background and is really into photography, I think keeping everything in line and consistent that helps.
YGs: What can a band can do to get on those Spotify playlists? How are those curated?
FE: I think the labels have a big say. We’ve also met with the guys from Spotify and they give advice on how best to represent your band and your profile etc but I think it’s also luck, sometimes something clicks with someone and it just works. It's quite a tough one.
YGs: With that in mind, I guess touring is also a big part of it? Is the strategy to just play as often as you can?
FE: Definitely. We’ve kind of turned our focus to live recently. We’ve got this tour with Maximo Park and then straight off the back of that we’re doing a UK Universities tour, which is going to be quite intense - 3 or 4 gigs per day. Literally in the van, on to the next one - a lot more stripped back as well. It’s the case of the more, the merrier for us at the moment - trying to reach people through the live show because it’s kind of different to the way it’s recorded, it’s a bit more of a rock show.
YGs: At the show we caught last night you had some really nice, atmospheric lighting and effects that complemented your music. How much of a say do you have in that? Is that something you see as part of your offering as a band?
FE: So the guy I mentioned earlier who is designing all of our visuals, he comes along on tour - he had a chat with the house lighting guy and gave him some direction. But to be fair the guy at the venue [Bahnhof St. Pauli] was sick. Every band that we watched looked really cool, he did a really good job.
I think if your music isn't the ‘in your face’ rock stuff, you sometimes need another aspect. With our music, it’s quite chilled and relaxing; it’s not the music you listen to when you’re going out and getting pumped up. So it’s good to find those other elements. We’re still working towards that.
YGs: And will you have a chance to explore this on your tour with Maximo Park?
FE: There’s a few bits we’re taking with us. We’re experimenting with back lighting, the 3 of us being lit from behind so it’s more like a silhouette. It’s still early days though and hopefully as the shows get bigger we can develop that.
YGs: Right now we're at the Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg, where you're playing 4 shows across the city. This festival is kind of Hamburg's answer to SXSW with emerging artists of diverse genres from all over the world playing different venues across the city. How does it feel for you, being invited this year?
FE: It’s been really cool, and awesome getting to play 4 shows! The atmosphere is incredible, especially along the main drag. We’ve actually not had much free time to get out and catch other bands yet sadly but hoping to catch Liam Gallagher tonight. Everything Everything! would also be cool to see.
YGs: So how does this Maximo Park tour sit with you guys in terms of size? Is this a big deal for Flawes?
FE: Yes, definitely. The venues on this tour will be a nice size, anywhere from 1000 people upwards which will be great for us. We’re quite used to playing more intimate venues, around 200/300 people so I can’t wait to have that extra room on stage. Stylistically, we’re very different to Maximo Park, so it’s going to be interesting to see how we go down..
YGs: Let’s talk guitars! You’ve talked about how important design and style is to Flawes and you as a musician, is that true for what is important to you in a guitar also?
FE: Absolutely. That’s definitely what piques my interest in something. I think the look of a guitar is what makes me want to initially pick it up, and then the weight is really important. I used to play a Les Paul and I think the Revstar neck reminds me of it, it’s got a nice chunky feel to it. I tend to play a Strat as my main guitar but to have the A/B thing with the Revstar is awesome - I love having that contrast in
YGs: Which Revstar is it that you’re playing?
FE: The RS720B, with the Bigbsy..
YGs: What was it that drew you to that model?
FE: It was a combination of the finish and the fact that it’s got a Bigsby! I used to work in a guitar shop, and Yamaha were really well thought of there. We’d often find that great players would come into the shop and play the Pacificas - that’s what first got me interested in the brand. The Revstar is on several of the tracks to be featured on our debut album.
YGs: Nice! We look forward to hearing it. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
FE: Our next single ’This Could Be Real’ is set for release on November 17th and the debut album will follow next year. Find us on Spotify under FLAWES.
YGs: Thanks Freddie, we’re eager to hear the album!
Photos: Josh Moseley