From small-town Hood River, Oregon, flor is comprised of vocalist Zach Grace, guitarist McKinley Kitts, bassist Dylan Bauld and drummer Kyle Hill. Their new album ley lines perfectly mixes groovy upbeat indie rock with more dreamy, anthemic cuts. Emma got to sit down with three of the four guys and talk about their new record and future tour, which kicks off September 12th in Austin, Texas.
Emma: So first off congrats on the album, it sounds great! What do you guys want the people to know about the album?
Zach: That is a wonderful question. I get the feeling a lot of people are a little bit confused about what ley lines are and we've tried to clear that up a little bit. But to reiterate, ley lines are lines connected by landmarks throughout the world. The album is about finding those anchor points in your life—just like the anchor points that ley lines connect—and using those to guide your life. Those anchor points are gonna be different for everybody. For us, it's our friendships and family within music that keeps us on track and helps us survive through it all. They push us to believe in ourselves. If you're having trouble believing in yourself, find those points that you can hold on to and anchor yourself. You might have a little bit easier time with it all.
McKinley: You sum it up pretty well in “ley lines”.
Dylan: “Ley lines find meaning to take hold”.
McKinley: come out. you're hiding was kind of the initial ”we're scared to step out” kind of album. This album is a little bit more like “all right, now we're on this journey”. Now, we're finding our way through it.
Zach: The move now is to believe in yourself.
McKinley: It's not a coincidence that the records follow where we're at in our lives and as a band.
Zach: It's just documenting where we’re at, as good music should.
Emma: Was the process of writing and producing this album different from the last one?
Dylan: A lot. We tried some new things at the very beginning. We tried to branch out to other studios and work with some other producers and we got some good stuff out of it. But it didn't feel like us, so we went back to basics, producing and writing the songs at my house. That said, it wasn’t exactly like our first album; the first record was basically just us making songs on our computer. We didn't really know exactly what was going to happen after. After we played tons of live shows, we knew what kinds of live elements we want to have in the record. We made sure to implement all of that in rehearsals before we wrote songs.
McKinley: While making the record we kept live performances in our mind because as we toured for come out. you’re hiding, it was fantastic, but we had people saying “Oh, I love this show so much, and the record is awesome but in a different way. I would love to hear that representation of the band”. This record still has some of that ethereal dreaminess from come out. you’re hiding, but we amped up the guitars and the live drums because the intention was to be touring on it.
Zach: So, we took what we knew we liked and we made it better. It might take some time to grow on people, but whatever.
McKinley: Hey, come out. you’re hiding took some time to grow on people. The record was a slow, slow burn.
Emma: Has the band dynamic changed with you guys not living together anymore? Has the process of writing and recording changed?
McKinley: Not really, because it's always been Zach having these little things in his head, which turn into songs. Then, he and Dylan flesh it out together and record everything. So it's still done DIY, just like the first record.
Dylan: It's just a little less sporadic. We have to book travel to make it happen instead of going out of our bedrooms and into the studio.
McKinley: It's more intentional. I think recently we wish we were together. It's harder to be spontaneous, which is not ideal, but it didn’t affect the record.
Emma: How was the slow motion video shoot?
McKinley: That was an extraordinary circumstance. Originally, we shot a video by the book. We didn’t like it, so we scrapped it...
Zach: ...and then when we realized we still needed a video, the label was like “Hey, we already spent a lot of money”. So we didn't really have many options.
McKinley: So, we just took our merch cash and our buddy Jay, who does most of our videos. We went into the desert outside of Salt Lake City and shot a video behind everyone's back. We literally paid cash. We handed him a wad of bills in the middle of the desert. It was like a gnarly drug deal. The plan was if the video didn't work out no one would ever know (until someone asked about the five grand in merch cash). No one was allowed to talk about it. It was so windy and cold and miserable, but It ended up being a really awesome and special video. So, we sent it to our manager.
Zach: It would've been our little secret.
McKinley: We like doing that—throwing curveballs to the big guys.
Emma: What inspired the visuals for the music videos you've been dropping with the singles?
McKinley: Toning it down honestly. It’s hard to do narrative videos and also tie it to the bands performing. Everyone in this band is pretty perfectionistic, especially Dylan with his editing. It's so hard for us to get a video that we're ecstatic about. So we used simpler lights and movements that make these videos work for us.
Zach: Every song means something different to every person. If you present a definitive narrative with your song then it makes it harder for the imagination to run free, which is okay in certain circumstances. Obviously, if you have a very specific vision and you're like, “This is exactly the message I'm trying to say with this song”, a narrative makes sense. But, for the most part, I don't really have songs that are that black and white. It's up to what the listener’s feeling.
McKinley: The video can tell someone how to feel which isn't necessarily what we’re trying to do.
Zach: Not at all. Some people come up to me and say this song means this to me and I'm like, “Oh okay!” They're not wrong and it's really cool because I never looked at it that way. I like it when songs can be that.
Emma: It's like a room for interpretation kind of thing.
McKinley: Yeah, you still are able to have that freedom to kind of fill in the blanks as a listener and a viewer.
Emma: When “dancing around” came out, surprisingly it had three guitar solos. “warm blood” is about a video game. Do you think there's gonna be something else that's gonna catch on?
Zach: I don't know, I hope that something can stick like the video game thing, but that's on the fans. We told people that “warm blood” was about a video game and they got excited.
McKinley: We didn't have that intention. That video game, The Witcher 3, at least between Zach and I, is probably one of our most played and favorite games of all time.
Zach: It’s incredible.
McKinley: I have a total of like, 270 hours on it.
Zach: Who knows. There could be something special for people to latch on to.
McKinley: The power is with the people.
Zach: I still mumble just enough on this album that people are trying to decipher it. People are like “I can understand you!”
Emma: So going back to the visuals, what inspired the color palette change between last album and this album?
Zach: Same idea. Still making it beautiful and nice.
McKinley: I think cleaning things out and keeping it simple. In the original piece for come out. you’re hiding, there wasn't a lot to it. There were three colors.
Zach: It was a different color scheme entirely.
McKinley: But it was limited. It isn’t as intense.
Dylan: It's nice to have a limited amount of colors and have everything else relate to that. Rather than come out. you’re hiding, this record had just a whole array of colors.
Zach: It was everywhere and every pastel you could think of.
Dylan: It was messy.
McKinley: There was too much going on, so we just pulled everything back and kept it consistent, which has been really nice. We got that bone and cream and dusty pink going on.
Emma: Are the colors from the album cover going to be added to the production for the show?
McKinley: We don't know.
Dylan: We'll know in a couple days.
McKinley: We know what the literal fixtures look like. They know what we don't want, specifically that we don't like a lot of red.
McKinley: So as far as colors go, the last headline tour, we always kept it to muted pastels. Kind of watery. We don't use any primary colors. It's always been kind of important.
Zach: It feels dreamy that way. It's just how our music is.
McKinley: If Zach’s voice was a color, it wouldn't be bold or anything. It would be that beautiful fluorescent, pastel-y bone color.
Emma: Is there anything you guys can say about the tour?
Dylan: We're excited.
McKinley: I think we did a really good job balancing the setlist.
Emma: I was about to ask about making it cohesive.
McKinley: We've always been to so many shows for bands that have new records. When they play the whole new record, it sucks if people haven’t had a chance to sit with it yet. So we're not just turning away from come out. you’re hiding. It's a perfect marriage between old and new, we hope.
Dylan: People are going to know most of the songs.
McKinley: And luckily, we had the opportunity to release those four or five songs from the record early, so we were strategic. But there are still some surprises.
Emma: Are there any final remarks you guys would like to put out?
Dylan: Subscribe to us on YouTube.
Zach: Retweet this tweet with a photo of your dog so that a thousand people respond to it.
ley lines is available to stream now on multiple platforms.