When Hugo Gruzman and James Lyell are not busy being the pseudonyms they’ve cooked up in their hotel rooms, the Australians are piloting the skies of disco house on board Flight Facilities (FF).
Although both of them prefer to keep their identity a secret, the success of their 80s revival and disco tinged releases have garnered them worldwide acclaim.
Their first single ‘Crave You’ (featuring Giselle’s sun strip vocals) blew up charts and dance floors in 2010 and has catapulted the producers to a level that saw them headlining clubs and festivals across the globe.
Zul Andra manages to get the comedic duo on the ground for a quick chat before their gig at Zouk on 29 June.
Flight Facilities Megamix
James mentioned in an interview that one of the reasons why FF have remained anonymous is because no one would take you guys seriously if you exposed your true identity.
We're not the two most serious people in the world. We take our jobs reasonably seriously because that's our living. But we find it pretty hard to keep too much of a straight face in the music industry. It's filled with jokes that come and go within the space of a year. It's best not to let our jobs get too humourless or it will be twice as depressing if people stop listening.
Even on your Facebook page, you guys created the fictitious Captain Earnest Bon-Huffington, Madame Francois de Lundenkopf, Esquire Winston Humphries III and Fred as band members who all live in Trinidad & Tobago. Do they get along in the Caribbean?
We haven't heard from the others, but Earnest and Winston have been working hard in their beachfront studio. We can honestly say: expect to hear something from those two this year. They took a trip to Europe in about 2005 and used their influences to create a bit of French (or if you haven't done your history --Swedish) inspired house music. Cryptic? Very.
Do you keep this fictitious quartet in mind -- with them baking in the sun, sipping coconut cocktails -- when producing your tracks?
As everybody probably knows by now, they're ghostwriting for us. We feel bad about taking all the credit; but all the royalties and a reasonable percentage of the income is wired to their joint account in San Fernando (via the Canary Islands of course).
FF releases just about a track every year. 2010’s ‘Crave You’, 2011’s ‘Foreign Language’, and this year’s “With You”. Was this intentional?
Not really, but it's working for now. We didn't think ‘Crave You’ would be so successful. Since then we've been caught behind trying to write songs to catch up. We're slowly getting faster but it looks like we should have another song or two out this year. Perhaps that's bad luck to say? We hope we have another song or two out this year.
Flight Facilities – ‘With You feat. Grovesnor ‘
‘With You’ has some melodic references to Booka Shade and Todd Terje. How did that track got to where it’s at in terms of production?
The chords came from the ‘Foreign Language’ chorus harmony. In fact, if you line up the chorus from ‘Foreign Language’ with chords from ‘With You’, the timing lines up almost perfectly and a few of the words will harmonise with the instrumental.
There are a few similarities there if you listen closely enough. It was only after a few more days that we realized the resemblance it struck to a Booka Shade song. That was never the intention.
At the end of the day, your tracks seem to particularly ride on 70s and 80s funk and disco grooves. You’re big fans?
Naturally. It's hard not to be. There are so many timeless hits that were written in both those decades. If people paid more attention to that era, perhaps we wouldn't be subjected to so many embarrassing one hit wonders that are nothing more than the offspring of a fad genre.
It's no surprise that artists can achieve such success from even sampling or covering songs from those decades. They say, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Unfortunately, it's quite the opposite with music.
Do you think much of it comes from the ‘American sound’?
There's a big argument rising that perhaps 'America is ruining dance music.’ Whatever your belief, they're bringing attention to it. We can only hope the new listeners are willing to walk off the structured path to find out what ‘house music’ actually is.
If your average Joe has only heard of a genre, the chances are, they're being fed a bastardized version of it. Don't get us started on the term 'EDM'. It's become the discriminatory blanket term for: the music all those DJ's play.
Flight Faclities at the Future Music Festival in KL
Johnson Peterson from Yolanda Be Cool said in an interview last year that, “There’s a bunch of good clubs, DJs and producers [in Australia]; it’s good from that point of view but maybe the crowd should be a bit more open I guess.” What do you think?
He's 100 per cent right. We're a huge country with a tiny population. It's hard to have and maintain a niche market when even the popular market is miniscule in comparison to the global market.
The cool kids will hate you if you go commercial and the commercial kids don't care about you once their attention span has expired. But it's a great fight.
If you can earn a spot in the iTunes list of enough Australians, you can keep your place there for a long time. It's like a nation of elephants. They'll march on without you, but they won't forget.
Needless to say, Singapore can’t wait for some top-flight musical magic from FF. What kind of ride are you going to take us through?
Each one is different. We're very excited to play in Singapore. We only ever stop there on our way to Europe so this will be our first experience there.
We don't know what to expect any more than the fans will. Perhaps we'll have to surprise each other for the best.
Judging by our friends' experiences, we want to jump off the plane more often on the way to our Northern Hemisphere adventures.