Joshua Flowers of Somasek

Meet Joshua Flowers the singer songwriter and stellar self taught musician from the musical entity known as Somasek. We threw him down the gauntlet with a short Q&A and he walked out pretty unscathed. He’s pretty influenced and not so obviously so; he’s was able to coble a album from a certain distance that is echoed on his debut London Recordings. Accidents do happen but this is not one of those.

RS: How did you learn to play?
JF: Taught myself! Had an old beaten up guitar and bought a Beatles songbook and just went through the chords.

RS: What are the musical influences for the album?
JF: At the time I wrote the songs for London Recordings I was listening to a lot of Motown records. I think that influence comes through most prominently on Rumour, especially the vocal.

In general I’m inspired by melody, rhythm, ideas, originality – most importantly, originality. Artists I admire: David Bowie, Clinic, Radiohead, The Beatles, Talking Heads, Elliot Smith, The Arcade Fire, Of Montreal, Rufus Wainwright, Boards of Canada, Julian Casablancas, Lou Reed, Phoenix, The White Stripes, Hudson Mohawke, Anything out of Motown, O. Children, the list could go on.

RS: What was the recording process?
J: I recorded the first half of the album in London with producer, James Barr. The second half was recorded in Sydney on my laptop. Technically, this makes the album a double-EP.

The actual recording process in London was interesting, because with a very tight budget we only had a couple of days in the studio to record everything. It was a pretty tight schedule to get everything right. Upon travelling back to Sydney we corresponded over email to finish the mixes. That took a few months. It wasn’t the ideal recording process, but on such a low budget we got some great results.

RS: So Guess you would not recommend this mixing process over email but it seemed to work. it did seem to work out for you. What would be your moderate budget or ideal way to record?
JS: A part of me really enjoyed the process. Having daily feedback from James and hearing the mixes take shape was exciting. Corresponding like that also felt kind of old-fashioned. It was like working through morse code or something. I could only send co-ordinates, and James would have to interpret them and you were in the dark until you heard the mix the next day. In a way it was kind of thrilling.

I should add that for any sane person its probably not the best or most efficient way to work. We only did it out of necessity. Ideally, you’d have a record label behind you with an unlimited budget paying for the studio time, but then who wants to be signed to a label for anything other than distribution these days?

RS: Are there any producers you’d like to record with? They don’t have to be current but tell me a bit why. How’d it work with your process? Did you learn anything?
JS: My favourite producer of all time is probably Nigel Godrich. I admire his musical taste. You only have to listen to Beck or Radiohead to hear his distinct style. Or alternatively, check out the awesome soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It’s the best.
I have to say it though, I loved working with James Barr on London Recordings. He’s a great guy and an awesome producer. I’d totally recommend him. Working with him I guess I realised how important it is to have a producer you respect musically. Plus, we have a similar sense of humour so that helps too.

RS: Working on laptop seems to be the way a lot of people are going do think once you involve a live band the songs might change? How else would you like to record?
JS: The ultimate recording setup is to have a fantastic band playing live, then overdubbing any extras later. It encourages lots of live rehearsal before-hand and improves the performance. Ironically as music technology becomes more advanced, its a less common occurrence.
I’d love to be able to record that way, but I think it’s still a mirage in the distance. I’m a product of my environment and the way I learnt to make music was by myself at home, so I’m more experienced at producing than I am performing. These days, the performance happens mostly inside the computer. Having said that, I love playing live and it will never go out of style.

RS: If you could be any instrument what would it be?
JS: A drum machine. A 909 probably. Or a great old acoustic guitar.

RS: You have musical influences! Any authors you’d to throw in the mix from a lyrics storytelling perspective as influences?
J: There are so many great lyricists out there. I could list hundreds that inspire me, but authors – thats a tricky question.
Some authors I love: Ursula Le Guin, Vladimir Nabokov, Bret Easton Ellis, Frank Herbert, F. Scott Fitzgerald, J. D. Salinger, John Steinbeck, Ayn Rand, Kafka? Dickens? Am I doing this right? I don’t know. I don’t feel like any of those authors overtly inspire my lyrics, although they probably do in ways I don’t understand.

RS: If you could have 3 records on an island what would they be?
JF: That’s a really horrible question. It’s like trying to choose your favourite friends. (Ha! I know -ed)
Hunky Dory – David Bowie [Zip]
In Rainbows – Radiohead [Zip]
Skeletal Lamping – Of Montreal [Zip]
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