By: Shayla Lee
Everyone knows that music brings people together. Whether it’s experiencing live music at a festival or show, connecting with a fanbase online, or discovering new musicians, no matter how crazy our society may be music will is here to unify us. Music also unified indie-pop duo members Shpresa Lleshaj and Cole Randall. The now married artists met through Soundcloud a few years ago when they were on opposite sides of the world. After messaging and skyping for months, Shpresa flew from her home in Stockholm to Cole’s home in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The two fell in love and have been creating beautiful music under the name Flora Cash for the past five years.
The music Shpresa and Cole create explores humanity; the pain such as mental health struggles and the beauty and joy that comes with love are often present topics in their music. A blend of stunning harmonies, unique productions, and an uncanny emotional bond shared between the two artists paints a poignant landscape for the listener. Although Flora Cash slowly built a fanbase and buzz within the music blogosphere, it wasn’t until last year when ‘You’re Somebody Else’ blew up on the radio that the duo began to receive more recognition.
With a North American tour supporting lovelytheband and multiple festival dates slated this season, Flora Cash has a busy year ahead of them. We chatted with the duo about their latest release ‘They Own This Town,’ upcoming tour dates, and what they hope to achieve as musicians.
Femme Riot: To people unfamiliar with your music how would you describe Flora Cash to them?
Flora Cash: We make music that we want to hear and in many ways the writing process itself is therapy for us; so that tends to come through in the themes we write about. A lot of our music is about recognizing the struggles we all face and trying to see that bit of hope on the other side.
How do you approach creating a song? Is it a little bit different each time or do you have a system set in place that works for you?
It’s usually a totally different process each time. Sometimes we wish we had more of a system but every song creates its own process.
Congrats on the release of ‘They Own This Town’ it’s beautiful and I think it is a message that our world needs to hear right now. The lyrics really hit home and I know so many people who will relate as well. Can you tell us more about this song?
We’re glad you like it and can relate. The song is deeply personal for us and describes a situation that, as you implied, a lot of us face. It’s about the feeling that something outside of our control is deliberately holding us back or limiting our potential. But the song is also about the fact that we have the power to change our situation and break through any barriers that are erected in front of us.
The lyric video you released to accompany ‘They Own This Town’ is super unique and cool! What inspired this visual component of the project?
In terms of the animation style, we were loosely inspired by A-ha’s “Take On Me” video. The idea came to us one night while we were falling asleep and we were fortunate enough to find JonJon, the animator to help us realize our vision. It’s one of our favorite Flora Cash visual pieces to date.
Your EP ‘Press’ is coming out this March. I’m sure you are so excited to share it with the world! What can fans expect from this EP? What did the creative process look like for the EP?
We’re definitely excited to share it. Fans can expect a definite evolution in our sound but with the “red thread” that binds this new material to what has come before. It’s an EP very much centered around the idea that we should never compromise our vision to please others or to conform to abitrary expectations as to “what sells” or “what the data says.” The message boils down to: “Fuck what people say. This is us.”
From the smashing radio success ‘You’re Somebody Else’ has received to playing huge music festivals and touring across North America, you two have experienced so many things that some musicians only dream of. Have you experienced a “wow” moment when you realized all of your hard work has paid off? What would be the ultimate goal for you to achieve?
It has been insane. And it’s true that a lot of musicians dream of being where we are (us included.) The big thing we’ve learned is that most people who don’t make it this far give up too soon. It’s important for musicians and artists who are struggling to be heard to realize that it’s going to take a lot of work and sacrifice but it also takes perseverance. Usually things don’t happen over night and you have to be willing to say: “there is no plan B. I am either going to ‘make it’ doing what I love or I’m going to be poor. But either way, I’m not giving up.” That’s a powerful recipe for success because it gives you the motivation to learn from your mistakes and keep getting better and smarter.
It’s important for musicians and artists who are struggling to be heard to realize that it’s going to take a lot of work and sacrifice but it also takes perseverance.
A big “wow” moment for us was the first time we played a sold out show and heard every single person in the audience singing our songs back to us. That’s a feeling that’s hard to describe and one we don’t take for granted; we felt really lucky that night.
Our ultimate goal is to see how far Flora Cash can go without compromising our vision. We will never underestimate our audience and we know that there’s no limit to how far they can take us. We want to be an example to other artists who refuse to fit into a box.
This spring you are going to be touring with lovelytheband and Jaguar Twin – you must be so excited! What can fans expect from your live performances? Any cities in particular you are excited to be visiting?
We are so excited! Fans can expect new songs, and a new energy in terms of how we’re delivering the live sound. We’re going to be trying a lot of new things and really having fun with it. We’re really looking forward to playing in Minneapolis as that’s where Cole is from. It’s always so much fun to play for the home audience.
This festival season you are slated to play fests like Hangout, Bottlerock, and Firefly. How does playing festivals differ from shows in venues? What has been the most memorable festival experience you’ve had thus far?
Venues tend to feel more intimate, more contained. There’s a sense of finiteness in venues which is really fun to explore. Something more personal about venues. Like, a very real sense of “we’re all crammed in here together, having a moment.” With festivals there is a sense of vastness and openness; it’s slightly less personal but in some ways more powerful. Our favorite festival so far was the Next Big Thing festival a few months ago in Tampa Florida. The energy and love from the crowd was so inspiring. And it was cold everywhere else in the country so it was nice to have some heat!
Mental health is something very important to us at Femme Riot and we love hearing about how others maintain balance in their lives. Being busy musicians who are working on music and touring, what practices do you implement into your life to ensure your health and well-being is taken care of? Is it difficult to maintain this type of balance while touring?
It’s true that it’s hard to maintain balance on tour but every time we go on the road, we try to do a little better at taking care of ourselves. It’s no secret that it’s easy to get into bad habits as touring artists; there is a lot of free beer, unhealthy food, late nights, early mornings etc. It’s important to be cautious and aware of what we’re doing. One thing we’re going to start doing on the road is going to the gym (something we do frequently when we have time off at home) and making sure that what we’re eating is healthy and nutritious and not just convenient and filling. It can be a real challenge in that situation but as you said, it’s very important.
Anything else we haven’t asked that you want to add?
Thanks so much for the great questions! We hope you love Press!
For more information about Flora Cash’s upcoming tour dates, check out their website here. Stay up-to-date with all things Flora Cash by following their journey on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Check out Flora Cash’s lyric video for ‘They Own This Town’ and other music below!