"TRYING TO LISTEN TO MY INSPIRATION," A Conversation with Flung
What inspires you to create?
Borrowed sounds from the air and the earth, the music I hear my neighbors playing in their houses and cars and on their phones as they walk through the park, the rhythms of the birds, the voices of inanimate objects as they buzz and rustle.
Why do you create?
Making music has been so ingrained into life for as long as I can remember, but releasing my own work often feels scary. I try to stay in close touch with how deeply I’ve been moved by the music that means the most to me, how much it’s changed my life in big and little ways. Rooting myself there reminds me that what I’m putting out might be important to someone in ways I might never know.
This solo project also feels like an offering or a gift for my trans community. This became extra clear going on tour last summer and seeing my music resonate on an extra special wavelength with other trans folks. I think a lot about something one of my favorite writers/thinkers/poets, Hanif Abdurraqib, says in “They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us” - he talks about artists who “make music facing [their] people while also leaving the door open for everyone else to try and work their way in.” This quote has really helped me put words to a desire to angle my music towards ‘my people,’ construed broadly and through the different identities I hold, while also recognizing, though I generally dislike the ‘universal,’ that in some sense, as listeners, we are all ‘each other’s people.’
I want to make work that holds the specificity of difference and also honors big truths. For everyone, I would hope that my music can create space for listening between people and within people. That my songs can offer little moments of reminder or invitation for people to slow down and attune to themselves and whatever feelings might live a couple layers deep.
What’s the most special moment you have had recording? That sort of “Ah ha!” moment.
Two come to mind. The first was when I went on a solo hike for my birthday in 2021, up in Wildcat Canyon in Richmond. I ate a banh mi and a juicy apple and listened to some extremely early demos that ended up eventually forming the backbone of my album Apricot Angel. It was unbelievably green and I was so taken with the beauty of these big expansive views of endlessly rolling hills. The early draft of Hands and a Carpet only consisted of the tabla ostinato and a dreamy synth part, no other percussion, lyrics, or other extras yet. I remember the moment where I realized there needed to be a consistent snare on 2&4 and a conversational, everchanging kick part weaving around the snare.. I freaked out (in a good way) - because it was so clear those percussion parts were exactly what the song needed to become itself.
My other moment was finishing my first record, Shaky But My Hair Is Grown. Before Shaky I had never maintained a solo project and I was starting to think I would never be able to. I wrote and recorded that album so quickly, in a blur of two weeks when I constantly felt like it was all going to crumble if I stopped for a second, that I would hit a roadblock and start hating everything I had been working on. And then during my first listen-through to what was supposed to be the final record, I actually really didn’t like it! I was really worried I was going to feel the need to throw everything away, and almost did, but then immediately realized that this music meant something to me and I didn’t want to do that, and that the issue actually lay in the track list - the way I had sequenced the songs wasn’t serving the flow of the album. I came up with a whole new track order and listened again a few days later and this time realized it was something I actually wanted to put out, and it was such a wild moment of looking back on everything like, oh shit, I actually have a solo project now.
How do you replenish your creative energy?
I’ve been trying to just allow myself the time to do so, by embracing the ebbs and flows and not pushing myself to create more than I have the energy for. This has been a struggle and a learning experience because I generally work really fast and I’m someone who always wants to be making something new. But I’m really trying to listen to my inspiration and move at its pace and not any faster. Like, I’m in a period right now where I finished a record six months ago and haven’t really made anything new since - and it feels kind of lovely not to be rushing myself!
A few months ago I was sitting outside and listening to the birds, and feeling so moved by their rhythms and a certain feeling in how two of them were weaving in and out, and I started thinking about translating that feeling/interaction into a song, which was really exciting. And then I took that tingly feeling and went home, and I didn’t open up my DAW or sit with my gear, because I just wanted to let the feeling sit. I probably watched reality TV or took a nap in the sun. And I haven't gone back to it or worked on any new music since then - trying to trust that the inspiration will still be there when I'm ready to return to it, even more marinated and infused with life by sitting in me as I've been living.
Who are you listening to currently that inspires you?
Recently I’ve been getting super into Judee Sill, particularly the record Dreams Come True, which was released after her death. My music as Flung sits within an experimental electronic tradition where I’m really interested in spaciousness/repetition/texture. I think a lot of my solo work is about creating a space and sitting in it; this is still very much a part of my practice, and, as I’ve moved deeper into this project and developed more of an artistic voice, I think the music I make has started to stand more confidently, not just as time-bounded periods of sound, but as songs. Like, the kind that can sit with you as a friend while you live, that you can sing in the shower, or as you’re washing dishes, or driving around your neighborhood or walking along the shore.
Even though my process is nothing like ‘songwriting’ in a more traditional sense, Judee Sill’s music scratches a songwriting itch/inspiration in me. The way her melodies twist and turn, tag and then bring me gently back to where they started, and burrow in my head makes me feel so inspired. Dreams Come True, and Heart Food, too, have been deeply embedded into this year for me as spring turns to summer.