Interview: Flare Voyant

Flare Voyant are a London based psychedelic rock band that make music inspired by classic rock, but keep it fresh. All of the members are passionate about classic rock, something I very much believe in and I was lucky to interview them. They describe themselves as borderless, because the band members come from multiple countries and because at first they were collaborating remotely. They released their self-titled debut EP in 2017. Chris Kimsey, who has worked with famous musicians like Peter Frampton, The Rolling Stones, ELP, Marillion, and Yes produced that EP. They’re classic rocker approved, having been praised by Jimmy Page, who said:

I saw Flare Voyant at the Troubadour in London. They are a superb live band. Check them out!”

Flare Voyant’s latest release is the song, “Hermitage”. You can find the music video for it below.

If you want to learn more about Flare Voyant, keep on reading! They’re definitely one of my favourite modern rock bands and you gotta listen to them.

Angie Moon: How did the band meet?

Rod: We all met online thanks to clever algorithms. There’s a very wide online community of retro-culture enthusiasts and that’s what brought us together. Initially, I got in touch with Thomas through a Facebook group called “Psychedelic Clothing For men: Then And Now” and we started playing together while I was studying in Paris. Flare Voyant then started as a transatlantic project as the early stuff was recorded between Paris and Sao Paulo and it only became an actual band when I moved to London and we recorded our debut EP with legendary producer Chris Kimsey.

Anthony: Well for my part, Jimmy Page’s girlfriend (poet Scarlett Sabet) posted a story on Instagram which featured the Flare Voyant logo, and luckily I saw it, having only followed her for a short time. I thought this band looked pretty cool and then Rod messaged me saying he was looking for a new drummer and the rest is history.

Grisha: When I came to London in 2017, I messaged Rod and there was a bassist vacancy so it was pretty straight forward, and I heard of the band before online.

Angie: Who are your biggest influences?

Anthony: Zeppelin of course but otherwise James Brown. Otherwise, I’m really into Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Soft Machine, Deep Purple, Nektar, Miles Davis’ bands.. there are so many…

Rod: Anthony and I have very similar influences, we’re both Zeppheads and huge enthusiasts of Funk & 70s Fusion. We are all very into mid-to-late 60s and early 70s music, and I am particularly into early 70s Progressive rock, besides my interest for Classical Hindustani music and “gypsy” music from jazz manouche to greek rebetikos and flamenco.

Thomas: My main influences are the early blues artists and bands such as The Rolling Stones, which blends nicely with the Led Zeppelin, Funk and Prog references of the other band members.

Grisha: My biggest influence is probably Rod because I would never have played these technical parts if I haven’t joined the band.

Angie: What brought you to London?

Rod: I always felt I had to be in London and I moved here because of my masters: both Master’s degree and music masters.

Grisha: Well, it was work but I did know that the music scene was much better than up north where I used to live, so it was the best of both worlds.

Anthony: What brought me to London was playing gigs (I live in Bromley)

Angie: What is the music scene like in London?

Rod: There are multiple scenes going on but nothing remarkably fertile if you compare to the swingin’ London days. There’s an interesting contemporary jazz scene happening right now in South London but I haven’t witnessed it yet, maybe because I am not very into the aesthetics they go for. We joined efforts with The Daybrakers to nurture a scene of retro-inspired rock music through the Starship club nights at the Troubadour in Earls Court and it was gaining momentum in 2019, which we’ll hopefully retrieve after the corona days.

Grisha: Right now? I don’t know. But there’s a great collection of blues guitarists around us such as Aidan Connell from the Daybrakers, Aaron Keylock, and also Connor Selby who was meant to go to tour with The Who, but that got postponed because of the COVID crisis. But in terms of the London music industry, I have no idea what’s going on.

Angie: What are your favourite record shops, vintage shops, and venues in London?

Rod: It’s always a pleasure to have a look at the records & books at Fopp in central London! We all love to hang out in Helgi’s, a very cool Rock n’ Roll spot in Hackney, and it’s always a privilege to perform at The Troubadour in West London! A Dandy in Aspic, The Vintage Collection, Hornets, Vintage Basement, Hunky Dory and Beyond Retro are probably the best vintage shops around!

Anthony: A Dandy in Aspic, the Vintage Collection and also Dream dragon shirts, not a shop strictly but James who makes the shirts has an amazing sense and taste for what he does (kaftans and shirts with original 60’s materials). Venue wise the Troubadour, the half-moon in Putney, an amazing place to play and to watch bands. Otherwise, the Royal Albert Hall is pretty amazing.

Thomas: Yeah, definitely A Dandy in Aspic, the shop of my friend Caspar de la Mare, where I have been visiting for a long time now, since I was a child really. Mendoza is really nice too! As for the venues, obviously the Troubadour, Half Moon, 100 Club, we were lucky enough to perform at many of these legendary clubs! I really like Helgi’s, Moth Club, so many venues!

Grisha: I got no favourite record shops and no favourite vintage shops, because they all make money on things that should be cheaper. In terms of venues,  hmm, Shacklewell Arms! It’s my local, it’s very hipster but I can turn up and there’s always a face that I know, a bunch of friendly people there. Even though we never played there, and we’ll probably never ever play there (they usually put on garage-psych or indie bands).

Angie: Flare Voyant’s lineup are diverse, how do your diverse backgrounds influence your music style?

Rod: Our different cultural backgrounds certainly add more spices to the mix and they converge in the end because of our specific affinities. However, I believe that our diverse roots influence our personal perception of the very same 60s/70s Rock and Roll. The fact that I was raised in Brazil might have an impact on my taste for syncopated rhythmic patterns, for example. It’s an effect of the environment around you. The same could be said about Thomas, who was raised around French poetry and Parisian fashion designers, which certainly affects his view of Rock culture.

Anthony: It certainly gives the music a really funky feel.

Grisha: My influences are not necessarily linked to my background, it’s British Rock and Roll really. But maybe I use the Cossack sword dancing element from my Russian roots, I wear warm colours and I try to incorporate the attitude of Cossack warrior on stage.

Angie: I saw that the band met and got praise from Jimmy Page, what was that like?

Rod: Jimmy Page has always been my biggest idol – and my guru. I used to be in a Led Zeppelin tribute band when I was growing up, for instance. I met Jimmy for the first time when I was 15, in 2011, and got to know him better since I moved to London in 2016. Whoever said “never meet your idols” should select better idols! It was an absolute delight and privilege when he came to our first Troubadour gig! His presence itself was already a massive honour but what is truly mind-blowing is that straight after the gig, he came backstage to praise us and he was visibly touched by our performance. He even endorsed us with an authorised quote! It was a dream come true for me.

Anthony: Honestly It was amazing to get an insight into the legacy of someone you’ve looked up to since the start of listening to music, especially as Zeppelin was the band I was most obsessed with for about 12 years.

Thomas: It was fantastic, we spent around one hour after the gig with him talking about it, he was really touched, he felt something special and he was really kind, a wonderful memory.

Grisha: When I come off stage after the gig my mind is all over the place and when Jimmy Page came backstage I didn’t immediately acknowledge the fact that it was Jimmy Page, I just really acknowledged the next morning.

Angie: How would you describe a Flare Voyant live show?

Anthony: Proper, energetic, funky

Thomas: I think it’s wild, sensual, prophetic, energetic and it gives joy and power to the audience!

Grisha: Flare Voyant is a really fun band live! You should really come check it out.

Rod: Most performances are truly memorable! I think we all feed a lot from the crowd. If there’s an exchange going on it can get really mind-blowing. It can get challenging sometimes if we’re playing at a venue or as part of a bill that doesn’t truly get what we’re doing – these things might happen sometimes.

Angie: What was writing and recording your latest song “Hermitage” like?

Rod: Thomas was concerned that we were focusing too much on complicated funk tracks and he missed the transcendental elements that we achieved on previous tracks such as Empty Soul and Light & Shade. I knew he had a point so I started messing around with rather odd guitar tunings and put these themes together. It worked since it’s one of his favourite tracks now! And this diversity is what makes Flare Voyant special, we’re not really a straight forward Rock band, we’re not riff-based, we don’t use power chords etc.. We do our best to incorporate many elements of musicality into the Rock band format, inspired by what Jimmy Page did with Led Zeppelin.

Grisha: I wrote the bass parts, it was my first time writing for Flare Voyant, it’s a very free song, and we recorded in 3 takes and that’s it, we knew the parts and we played them. That was recorded on video by our friend Lucas Hauchard, and I felt like I was a rockstar because I was recorded from many different angles, and I never feel like a rockstar in real life so that was, well, a different experience!

Thomas: It was proper, I had a fantastic time at the Sausage studios. The recording is always a good moment to focus on the song and I felt the same as on stage, this track is intense and brought me into trance state. When people play Flamenco there’s a famous moment called “Duende”, it’s a magic moment that happens on stage, a spark between the audience and the artist, and I felt the same on Hermitage, especially when it goes to the bridge, the mix between the words and the psych feeling of it, there’s something special there.

Angie: What is “Hermitage” about?

Rod: Lyrically, the song is about the quest of the hermit, based on my gnostic and hermetic studies.

Angie: What inspired the other songs on your upcoming EP?

Rod: The themes vary from noise complaints to theology, really! I believe it’s definitely our strongest material so far, and it will be hard to beat in the future.

Grisha: Elusive Times is self-explanatory, and we’re currently living elusive times. Hermitage, well, there’s a museum called Hermitage in Saint Petersburg but I don’t think they’re related! Nimby is also self-explanatory and Paul’s Funky Cab, I think it is about transporting rockstars in expensive cabs, which we can’t afford at the moment.

Angie: How are you coping and adjusting as a band during this pandemic? I know it must be very disruptive and a bit of a setback.

Rod: We had to postpone our EP release until further notice, which was very unfortunate, definitely a setback.

Thomas: We’re used to being apart as we live in different countries, we don’t normally rehearse.

Grisha: We’re not playing music and we had to cancel the EP release and we’re on standby, but as Thomas said, we are a remote band and we play once a month so I don’t think we feel like our gig life is going down the drain.

Anthony: It has given me plenty of time to focus and improve drumming and learn new things.

Angie: Any words for your fans?

Thomas: We miss you!

Anthony: stay safe and enjoy life

You can follow Flare Voyant on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud, their website.

Shoutout to my friends Patrick and Matt for supporting the blog!

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