Scene and Heard: Flat Land
Flat Land’s Foundation
Flat Land is a creative conglomerate with Gainesville culture at its core. Starting out two and a half years ago as a blues trio, Flat Land has since transformed into a tight-knit group of great friends. When original member and drummer Grant McLeod brought in guitar god Chris Storey from a former musical project called Funkatron, the group was on their way to becoming whole and complete. But an integral piece of the puzzle was still missing. That missing piece was found in vocalist/violinist Fae Nageon De Lestang.
Chris Storey graduated with a degree in percussion performance, making his knowledge of music theory an important aspect of the song-writing process. Fae had never been in a band before, and references her past phobia of singing in public. Now, she writes all the lyrics and melodies, and also functions as the head of design and marketing. The patriarch of the group, Grant McLeod, never fails to take charge when it comes to keeping things organized and on time. However, his personality is as colorful as his clothing. According to Fae, “his closet is this hybrid zoo of Bootsy Collins-on-vacation-at-the-beach. That man owns his fair share of plus-size women’s clothing. Lots of velour and floral prints.”
Together, the trio of Gator alumni evolved to form their current compounded sound. Citing a few most recent influences like White Denim, Stevie Wonder, LCD Soundsytem, and Michael Jackson, it’s clear that Flat Land enjoys a diverse range of music that is emulated by their all-kinds-of-groove-infused style. When asked to describe their sound, Fae responded with “We’ve nailed down our sound a lot more in the past few months. I’m going to say cosmic soul/groove. Kind of like Southern-steeped jungle beat. With soul. Latin-tinged soul. Final answer. God, I don’t know. If you figure it out, please let us know.”
Song To Know
Recently, Flat Land released a studio session of “Turn,” a tune that was written and recorded in 2014 with Medusa Productions. The video that accompanies the performance illustrates that this group has got some major soul that flows deep down to the bone.
Flat Land Lately
Flat Land has established an unbreakable position in the Gainesville music community by constantly interacting with its members in new and unique ways. The trio has developed deep connections with other up-and-coming artists, and has put together a variety of events that appeal to many different demographics and fields of interest.
A particular area of involvement for Flat Land is to organize and perform at events that are related to sustainability. The trio brought together eight different bands to bring the boogie to this fall’s Open Streets fair, which encouraged drivers to share the road with cyclists and others who favor alternative transport.
As well, Flat Land finds inventive ways to make their point. “We performed in the UF Homecoming Parade on a bicycle-trailer stage… that was another adventure! Totally surreal experience. We’ve been working with our friends from Kanner Karts and Get Active GNV (a cycling advocate) for the past several months to make that happen,” Fae said.
Via: Not Normal
Flat Land traveled around the state to perform at shows and festivals this past summer. While on their journey, Flat Land was inspired to create a festival to showcase the local talent of their musical peers. Thus, the brainchild Forever Summer, which is an all day music festival that has taken place at The Jam, was born. Their most recent festival, Forever Summer: The Last Jam was on Saturday, Nov. 8. “With The Jam closing, we had to do one last festival there… because it really is a special space. The last one we put on was in July, with 16 bands—all of our favorite local bands. The lineup was incredible,” Fae said.
Flat Land brings a strong, eclectic groove to Gainesville. Their ability to perceive what works well together and flawlessly execute it is well recognized. In summary, their songs take you on a journey, where you’ll ride their wave into funky town. At a Flat Land show, you won’t be able to fight the impulse to break out your best moves.
Fae is a truly phenomenal front woman. She has an uncanny ability to captivate the crowd with sweet, sultry vocals, and shortly after, amp up the energy with a tremendous sound produced by pipes as powerful as thunder. Amid the fog-dusted, multi-color mosaic light show, Fae resembled an angel: spellbinding, spritely, and sparkling in a gold paisley vest. A virtuoso on the violin, Fae added a little southern rock to an extremely funky performance. Her vocal range perfectly parallels the high peaks and low valleys of each tune. Chris Storey is a force to be reckoned with. When you think you won’t be able to take your eyes off Fae, Chris commands the crowd in his direction by stringing intense guitar solos comparable to Santana. Grant pounded the drums with a fury unlike no other, and pumped up the rhythm of each and every song, all while dressed in a fashionably far-out striped velvet ensemble.
The performance featured a sit-in from bassist Wilson Stern from Hail Cassius Neptune, as well as multiple covers such as a funkier rock version of “Superstition.” While some referred to the performance as a “space disco,” others felt that it was a symphony of psychedelic rock.
All in all, Flat Land’s homegrown hybridized sound and unmatched stage presence made for an unforgettable performance. Flat Land blew me away because they put their heart and soul into each and every note.
Future for Flat Land
Flat Land intends to release their next album in spring of 2015, which will differ greatly from their 2013 self-titled EP. They will be working on another Open Streets fair in February, and will be continuing to put on events like Forever Summer in order to bring the local music community close together. Flat Land’s fondness for strengthening the ties of the local music will stay strong and ultimately influence a lot of their future projects.
“We really want to continue building the music scene here. We’d like to help bridge the gap between the University and the local scene here, because there’s not a lot of overlap. That’s something that will take time,” Fae said. Flat Land will continue to pursue their passion, hoping to one day take on a national tour. When asked about her idea of success, Fae responded with “I think being successful is constantly improving, and allowing yourself to enjoy where you’re at, and the moment you’re in. I think a solid benchmark of success is the peers you surround yourself with. My friends are working to make their communities a better place, in many different capacities. Getting to live vicariously through them while pursuing my own goals makes me happy, which I think is the ultimate success.”
Feature photo courtesy of: Facebook