all hail the flamingods and their psychedelic music for the soul!
Get spiritual with an exclusive listen to Rhama, the new single from London/Bahrain band Flamingods.
Charles Prest, Sam Rowe, Craig Doporto and Kamal Rasool grew up together in Bahrain, a small island in the Middle East. Having been in various musical projects together since high school, they took a liking to Karthik Poduval at a party in London and adopted him as their bandmate. With similar backgrounds and influences, the five-piece embarked on what would be their greatest mission yet.
Pronounced 'fla-min-gods', they see their calling as an otherworldly beast combining their favourite animal - the flamingo - with mythology. Now split between London and Bahrain, the five artists experiment with instruments sourced across the world and never fail to impress us with their exotic, and at times trippy, wondermusic. Forever counting down the days to their show at London's Oslo on 11th May, we are thrilled to present the first single from their forthcoming record, Majesty. Improve your day by hitting play and discovering more about the Jodorowsky-inspired Rhama and Flamingods themselves as we catch up with Kamal…
What is Rhama about?
Rhama was one of the first songs we worked on for the album and an important one, lyrically. It follows the story of a character who has lost their sense of culture and seeks to find it. Through ridding himself of material things and following the path of the sun, he attempts to find his purpose in the world. It's partly inspired by Holy Mountain, and partly by my own experiences of not being able to speak my supposed mother tongue of Arabic and as a result, feeling disconnected from my Bahraini roots.
The music follows a sample taken from Sublime Frequencies 'Radio India' series. We received the permission from Alan Bishop himself who it turns out, much to our delight, is a fan of the band. Sun City Girls are of course, a huge influence for us.
The song embodies an important dimension of our music: repetition and the idea of cycles. It was written within a day and though we spent the next few months trying to evolve it, we concluded that it was done all along.
Why do you make music?
It's a sort of therapy. Getting your feelings on to a piece of music is enthralling and it allows you to really think about all the things that are going on in your life and focus on turning that into something wholly new. The music you listen to, the art you see, the books you read, the people you meet; it all affects you, and for me putting all that into sound is an exciting notion. We all love music, it's part of our everyday life and it brings balance to our lifestyles.
Are long-distance (musical) relationships as hard as everyone says?
Yep! Totally. Communication has been incredibly tough the past three years; sending each other song ideas, planning tours, albums, making difficult decisions over Facebook & email; it's no easy feat. That said, there were also some benefits that came out of it too. Sometimes limitations can take you to new exciting places and if we weren't in this situation the concept of our last album Hyperborea would have never existed!
What do you love most about London/Bahrain?
I love how different they are and how we've been given the opportunity of experiencing both cultures. Creatively, London is such an inspiring place, with so many interesting people to interact with and of course a great music scene. Bahrain feels like another planet to London; it's got that lazy sunny island lifestyle mixed with a rich cultural history. It's a mysterious and strange place that we have a lot of love for.
How do inspire you artistically?
We were very much brought up with influences from both the East and West, and over time, that idea has become quite influential to our music. We take what we learn from the West and apply it to what we know in the East - and vice-versa. It's an idea that was explored often in the 60s, specifically with bands in countries like Turkey and Iran taking traditional music and fusing that with Western psychedelic rock & roll. We love that era and can relate it to what we are trying to do right now.
What's the most interesting instance of geographical location influencing your sound?
When we were in Nepal two years ago, we took a lot of field recordings from the streets of Kathmandu that ended up going into our music. We also picked up beautiful instruments like the harmonium, sarangi, a few madal drums and various singing bowls and flutes. We fell in love with the culture, music and food, and it just keeps on seeping itself into our music.
What's your favourite instrument? Where did you get it?
These days we're geeking out over our new Phin guitar that came from the Isan region of Thailand. I managed to find this guy on Thai Ebay that hand crafts these beautiful guitars and sells them through the internet. The word 'psychedelic' is often associated with the Phin and it creates the most luscious drones of sound, especially when hooked up to distortion and a ton of delay.
When's the last time you stood back and admired the Majesty of something?
While I was growing up in Bahrain, my dad used to pump out these Arabic cassette tapes in the car when taking me to school. All the classics like Umm Kulthum and Fairuz were in my life on the daily. At the time, I had absolutely no interest for it and even took to disliking traditional Arab music.
Throughout time that music has grown on me in such a big way and is so important to my life now that it's crazy to think I once wasn't into it. For me, that's what I find most interesting about the idea of majesty; the moment when you take a step back to understand and see beauty & greatness in something that's been staring you in the face the whole time.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
Reading lots of travelogue memoirs from 19th century explorers. To be able to travel at that time to destinations no one had any idea or preconceptions of must have been so fascinating.
Which three psychedelic musicians do you think we should know about?
Meridian Brothers. The Comet Is Coming. Bamboo.
What sound makes you happiest?
What would be the ultimate situation to listen to your music in?
Perhaps on a reclining arm chair, with a nice refreshing cocktail in your hand, the warm evening sun bathing your face and a record player to take you on that journey.
What are your hopes for 2016?
To tour the world, meet new people, learn new skills and create new vibrations.
Majesty is due for release on 3rd June via Soundway Records