FLWRS + MARALISA Exclusive Interview // Muddy Your Feet EP

I really get geeked when I find out about great new bands that are not widely known. It is my mission to share this talent far and wide so that others can enjoy them as much as I have.

FLWRS + MARALISA is such a duo, made up of Emiliano Hern√°ndez Flowerman and Maralisa Simmons-Cook. They recently came together to make music and have released their first EP on Belgian Man Records - Muddy Your Feet. I had a chance to talk to them both today on Facebook and here's the transcript of that interview:

Maralisa, you live in Brooklyn and Emiliano, you're at Oberlin in Ohio, how did you two meet and start making music?

Emiliano - We actually grew up together ... Maralisa was like best friends with my little sister when they were really little. Didn't you guys go to preschool together?

Maralisa - Emiliano and I grew up together in the same small town, and after losing touch during both high school and college, we reconnected out of the blue when Emiliano came to visit friends of mine in Brooklyn this past semester.

Emiliano - Yeah, we went to Roberta's in Brooklyn and then went to our friend's photography showing at an art gallery and on the way over there i was like "yo Misa we should do some music together". She listened to a couple tracks i had on soundcloud at the time and was interested.

Maralisa - He had mentioned that he was dipping his toes into some production type stuff and wanted to collaborate on a song or two, but after a few very rough tracks we were thrilled at how well our sounds worked together and chose to turn his EP release into a collaborative EP.

Emiliano - Hahaha yeah, I couldn't believe how well the tracks were sounding once i got her vocals.

So were you together during the making of the album or did you do a "Postal Service"?

Emiliano - Yeah, we pulled a Postal Service ... we actually haven't seen each other since that day when I asked her if she wanted to make music together.

That's awesome! Can you both tell me a little about your musical backgrounds?

Emiliano - yeah, I started playing drums in 8th grade i think, and went on to playing with several bands in high school and early college, mostly funk, rock and instrumental bands. This past fall I took a TIMARA class at Oberlin College, which is basically a department in the Conservatory that specializes in experimental electronic music, where I learned all about the history of electronic music and how to use Logic Pro and stuff. Once I started producing, I loved it so much that I couldn't stop. It was all I could think about. I taught myself how to use Ableton and also some music theory.

Maralisa - We composed the tracks entirely via social media, tediously sending tracks and rough cuts back and forth, texting, emailing, facebooking...after a semester my thumbs are just exhausted. hah!

Emiliano - Sooo many emails and phone calls and texts ... I'm sure Maralisa is exhausted from getting so many messages from me.

So, what's your background Maralisa? Have you been singing for a while? 

Maralisa - I've been singing since around third grade, and became seriously invested in it during high school, at which point I joined a large teen a cappella group and continued private lessons, performing in student showcases and occasionally with my band Brick n' Honey. Who knows why that name was decided?

Emiliano - I remember Maralisa being known in the area as having an incredible voice ...

Maralisa - I was raised up mainly on heavy hitting blues artists such as Taj Mahal, Keb' Mo', Jon Cleary, and great female vocalists such as Nina Simone and Billie Holiday. Billie was ALWAYS my favorite...when I began performing jazz music my mom would bring me a white gardenia to wear in my hair and I just thought I was the coolest thing since I don't know what.

You should check out the Nina Simone rework that I just posted yesterday.

Maralisa - I will absolutely check it out!

Emiliano - Maralisa is also a fan favorite at this little restaurant/club called The Sleeping Lady in our town, Fairfax, CA

Maralisa - Now as a vocal jazz major, I'm studying both the traditional jazz idiom in school as well as experimenting with genre all over the map and trying to collaborate with as many musicians as possible. Doing collaborations has already improved my own songwriting and sense of style tremendously, so I am continuing to hunt for projects!

I would have to agree with you Emiliano ... Maralisa, you have a beautiful voice. So, on this EP Maralisa, where you the primary songwriter?

Maralisa - Thank you so much! I did write the lyrics and melodies/harmonies to the songs, and the production is entirely Emiliano.

Emiliano - Yeah, its kinda interesting actually cause the songs are fairly evenly split up. Drumdrunk was an acapella that Maralisa sent to me and i produced over it. Wake was one of my older productions which Maralisa really liked.

Maralisa - Drumdrunk, though, was a piece that I had written in the privacy of my apartment, mainly as a joke, about a year ago with chords/lyrics/melody, and it was originally a vocal piece recorded on my computer. Emiliano loved it and created a kick ass track for it.

Emiliano - Haha yeah the original version of Drumdrunk was kinda lo-fi, using the vocals she recorded on her computer
hahaha ... and Growl was one that I produced specifically for Maralisa.

On Drumdrunk - you warn about dating a certain type of musician, is that from experience?

Maralisa - Oh yes, totally from experience. That makes for the best songwriting though right?


Emiliano - It's also funny cause that was the first song we did together, and I'm a drummer, so it was slightly ironic.

Maralisa - Although it could pertain to singers-dating-drummers specifically, I wanted it to be a sassy love song for any girl who's fallen for a musician (which is basically inevitable).

We all know the dangers of dating musicians too well ... LOL!

Emiliano - I might write a song warning drummers to avoid singers ;-)

Maralisa - Preach!

Emiliano, I understand that you are moving to Brooklyn, what's next on the horizon for FLWRS + MARALISA?

Emiliano - Yeah I'll be heading out there in about a month! Maralisa and I already have a gig lined up in the fall but we're gonna spend some time rehearsing and getting our live show together. Hopefully we'll start working on an album before the end of the year, working on new material.

Maralisa - Totally, Emiliano and I are going to start rehearsing right away and getting some more music together in order to perform!

Emiliano - We might enlist the help of some other musicians to fill out our sound live.

Now, I see that you guys are doing something special on Bandcamp, giving away stories and portraits with each purchase - what's that about? 

Emiliano - Hahaha we kinda wanted to give people something personal to enjoy with our music. Since we don't have any physical releases yet, people don't really have anything to hold in their hands when they listen to our music
we wanted people to have something to have personally from us.

That's a great idea ... something that is definitely missing in an age of digital downloads.

Emiliano - hah thanks!

How do you guys get picked up by Belgian Man Records?

Emiliano - Well I just graduated from Oberlin College and a friend of mine, Matthew Gallagher, is in a band called Wax Monsters. They're great, have kind of an 80's synth sound ... nnyway I was asking him about promotion tips and after he listened to the EP he was floored. He immediately sent it to his label, Belgian Man Records, and they signed us that very day.

That's very cool!

Emiliano - They're great, its a really tight community. Everyone is always posting tracks that they're working on and people give feedback and stuff. Someone asked a question about compressing 808's the other day and I learned a lot haha ..
they are the coolest guys on the planet, support supportive of everyone within their community and constantly looking to collaborate, remix tracks, or chat about music interests. It feels like a giant family!

Do you believe in UFO's and aliens because I hear of a lot of sightings in Brooklyn ... maybe they are attracted to all the swass graffiti?

Emiliano - I definitely think that we can't be the only life in the universe, though honestly it's probably unlikely that we'll encounter other intelligent life. Distance is so great in the universe that we'd probably be extinct before any other intelligent life reaches us haha ... (I've been watching too much Sci-Fi... my girlfriend is a huge fan)

Spoken like my favorite SETI guy - Seth Shostack ... Maralisa - your thoughts on aliens in Brooklyn?

Maralisa - No comment. You know, my dad tried to get me into aliens, Mars, etc., but I never really found an interest in it. If they were to appear I would be totally okay with that though. Haha I'm just joking!

haha ok ... anything else either of you want to add before we wrap up?

Emiliano - Yeah I'd just wanna add that we're very very excited about continuing to work on music and playin shows, if anyone wants to hit us up, we'd be delighted to play anywhere near the NYC area.

Maralisa - Ditto to that! Bat/Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, you name it

Emiliano - Haha yeah even if it's your grandma's birthday, we're down. Also Maralisa swears that she lost her first tooth at my house when we were littlebut i have no recollection of that, so take it with a grain of salt.

Maralisa - No I totally did! Maybe it wasn't the first tooth, but it was definitely one of the first and it came out while I was eating pasta, which was terrifying.

Emiliano - hahaha what kinda pasta was it? Knowing Camila, probably pesto.

... the crunchy kind apparently.

Emiliano - Haha Camila and I loved pesto when we were little... still do. Actually i think i swallowed my first tooth, it disappeared during the night and i was really upset cause i didn't have anything to leave the tooth fairy.

Sounds painful to have to pass a tooth ... maybe it's still inside.

Well, thanks to both of you for doing this. It's been a lot of fun. Best of luck to you on your musical journey and please let us know when you've got new releases, news, shows, etc.

Emiliano - of course! thank you so much! We're so stoked to be talking to you! Big shoutout to Barrel-dEM!

Maralisa - Thank YOU! It's been a real treat.


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