You may, or may not have heard of FLORA, but if you are in to experimental electronic expressions like 4D performances, this one may be for you.
FLORA is the collaborative alliance of Melina Åkerman Kvie (AnnaMelina) and Jonas Rönnberg (Varg), two Swedish artists whose works seemingly divert from one another at the surface. Kvie, finding acclaim for her intriguing electronics and strong songwriting, and Rönnberg, who continually explores unknown forces into an ever greater constellation of techno expressions and more, manage to find a tender footing in their respective modes and methods.
The pair bonded over their love of analog gear, and together they’ve explored dreamy ambient music, dark pop and even brooding Auto-Tuned R&B ballads with variety of synths and vintage instruments. The studio interview below shows more on their work and approach to music:
With an impressive sensitivity to the breadth of each other’s practices, FLORA blooms with the vigorous intent of Rönnberg’s underground activity and the sublime, love‐tripped longing of Kvie’s tonic pop. This was first captured on the collaborative track ‘Blue Line (112 Rådhuset)’ which appeared on Nordic Flora Series Pt.3: Gore‐Tex City, Rönnberg’s album of refigured formulas for the dancefloor mediated by experimental liaisons. As a truly adaptive collaboration, neither artist reprises the roles that their previous works may point to. FLORA acts a container for a pact, with both Rönnberg and Kvie directing and developing from each and all aspects. Following their Berlin Atonal 2017 performance, the shifting platforms of FLORA have steadied just enough that the project stretches out to welcome further guests such as Ecco2k.
Last year at MONOM, FLORA presented their unique commissioned spatial sound compositions developed during their residencies at Berlin’s Center for Spatial Sound.
The heart of Berlin venue MONOM is its 4DSOUND system, a cross-grid of 48 omnidirectional speakers and nine underfloor subs, intentionally staged in a dark, featureless room. The MONOM concept is demanding of both audience and performer, and its artist residency programme sounds like an intimidating prospect. Once an artist is commissioned for a piece, they are given a week in Berlin to tweak the music and rehearse, all the while trying to get to grips with a complex hybrid soundsystem-instrument. FLORA´s skeletal drum & bass showcased the height and breadth of the space, with scattershot drum patterns and vocal samples layered over hypnotic bass tones.
In a recent interview FLORA was asked on their musical ventures. They described how, despite their differences as artists, they finally discovered each other, as well as how their union has resulted in what is perhaps their most significant respective projects to date.
Do you have defined roles when you work together? Are all aspects of the project collaborative?
AM: No, it’s really like every track is made in a new way. Sometimes Jonas makes a beat and I will write lyrics to it, or I could make a drum pattern and then he finishes it.
JR: The exchange is good with Flora. I’ll record on a plane, or on weekend when I am out playing as Varg, and then I’ll come home and give it to her. And then I don’t see it for a couple of weeks, and then it comes back as another song made by her but with new sounds. Or she could make a beat and I could come along and just fix the hi-hats.
I don’t really write that many vocals. I used to write a lot of poetry and I had maybe one or two poems published in my music career, but that’s it. Now Melina is transmitting a lot of my life and what happened to me in her lyrics. It’s all a big exchange, except that Melina is the person writing most of the lyrics and doing the vocals. Production-wise, though, we split everything pretty much fifty-fifty.
How do you step out of your comfort zones during live performances?
AM: I would say Flora really comes to life when we play live.
JR: I really think Flora is good live. I mean it has to be since we have played all over Europe and have had several offers to play around the globe without even having released any music. At this point, we only have one single out and one track on a compilation.
AM: It’s such a wonderful exchange between us and the audience every time we play. It’s really intense and it gets very personal. As an artist, you can really feel the electricity from the audience. A lot of people come up to us and say they experience a lot of emotions during out shows. This was a surprise for us. Like everything else we do, it wasn’t calculated—it just developed into us playing this really crazy live show.
Is there much improvization in the live show?
AM: During soundcheck, we basically decide what we are going to play at the show and how we are going to do it. What feeling we should have, how we are going to build the stage, how we are going to hang our flowers.
So the live show is very much based on the environment.
JR: Yes. For example, we played in Stockholm recently at the Moderna Museet. I really don’t like playing in Stockholm, especially not with Flora. When I play as Varg, a lot of the time I just shut down. I don’t care where I am, or what I am doing. But with Flora I have to be present, I have to be in the room. It’s an Emperors New Clothes kind of style, and I have to be there naked in front of people. I have a lot of personal issues with performing live, especially when it’s people seeing me that I know. Seeing faces that I recognize.