Electric Harp pouring out psychedelic melodies over stylin’ rhythms
laced with soulful vocals. The Flumes conjure up a lushly funky, dark and sparkling,
Harper Kayt Wallace immerses herself in 36 strings of Electric Harp, artfully bending the organic tones of this ancient instrument with wah and delay stylings as her smoky vocals sweep from whispers to roars. Combined with the rich grooves of songwriting partner Stephan Beattie on Bass/Guitar & a selection of fine rhythm makers on skins; the Flumes kick out a luscious live sound leaving audiences mesmerised in their wake.
Since releasing their new album “Sweet, Sweet Rain” in 2014, The Flumes have toured Australia’s East Coast between Cairns and Melbourne. As well as receiving national radio-play and some great reviews, two tracks from “Sweet, Sweet Rain” were awarded Highly Commended in the 2015 QLD Music Awards.
It’s difficult to pin these musical adventurers down to one genre. Let’s just say The Flumes create an exquisitely eclectic blend of psychedelic folk laced with soul funk, blues, jazz and a splash of reggae. So if you’re expecting Irish ditties or anything faintly classical prepare to have your preconceptions blown in the best possible way.
Now at home on the Sunshine Coast, The Flumes sprang from the sultry depths of the North Queensland. Received warmly both on festival stages and intimate venues, The trio have performed at the following soirees; MONA, Folk Rhythm & Life, Woodford, Earth Frequency, Floating Land, Island Vibe, Mission Evolve, Kuranda Roots, Palm Creek and Caloundra Music festivals, and have had the pleasure to support Mojo Juju, The Church, WooHoo Revue, Kingfisha and Violent Femmes.
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“Before hearing the latest album by The Flumes – Sweet, Sweet Rain, I would have considered the harp to be a niche instrument. This album changes everything.
The Flumes have with them an impressive release, this album flows, it’s well mastered and the musicians are deep in the groove delivering the goods. Kayt Wallace, lead vocalist and electric harpist weaves her lyrics over tight down-tempo and funky rhythms. The bass grooves over a crisp drumline holding down the backline.
The title track Sweet, Sweet Rain is one to look out for mid album, but one of the most catching of the tracks is Moonsong. It uses simple hooks and the sparse minimal touches over Kayt’s smoky vocals just work, not to mention that grooving solo.
The Flumes hail from Northern Queensland and this release almost takes me there, some of the instrumental numbers sample the rainforest sounds that one becomes accustomed to in the far north. And I like nothing better than an album that plays well through. From the first track to the last this band weave you around their finger and take you on trip into those exotic and not so distant lands.
It’s great to hear a cohesive album rich with new ideas and new twists. There is also something intangibly great about them being from out own shores. I would predict a good future for these guys if they keep pushing the envelope with these already high standards”.
“Boasting suave soul undertones to complement the folk hints of Coolum hinterland, opening track Flyin’ Colours immediately gets you compulsively grooving. Delving deeper into a mellow trance guided by harper and lead singer Kayt Wallace’s lush vocals, you quickly realise that The Flumes are the perfect end-of-week cure, embodying chilled Friday nights with a glass of merlot. Let the natural Star of the Sea and the soothe Sweet, Sweet Rain cleanse your spirit as you too discover there’s “Nothing quite like dancing naked in the rain”.
Many people seek music for its mesmerizing qualities; to be hypnotized, submersed and ultimately lulled into its unpredictable wilderness. Ok, I’m no Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung but I know when I’m hypnotized and when I hear something I like.
It’s not just because I want harper and vocalist Kayt Wallace of The Flumes to be my Mommy – she’s hot as blue fire how she manipulates the electric harp into a sound that’s all her own gives The Flumes their hypnotic quality. She does for the electric harp what Jean Luc Ponty did for the electric violin adding wah and psychedelic textures to what is traditionally thought to be a more classical instrument. Wallace’s harp streams solid warmth seamlessly in a clean medley of folk and jazz and accompanied by her unique vocal delivery, weaving both subtle whispers and soulful flair, makes for an outstanding front woman.
Accompanying her are two bandmates Stephan Beattie taking up dual responsibilities on guitar and bass, and Elliot Gwynne on the drums. Tracks with Beattie on bass tend to have a jazzier feel with a focus on low end driving the mix through a series of groovy vibes as Wallace handles the melody. A master track “Firefly” features Beattie on acoustic rhythm guitar and shows the band’s overall flexibility to carry songs either by bass or no bass.
Gwynn’s compatibility with his bandmates is like magic, fusing minimal yet steady rhythms holding it all together. While The Flumes’ brief recording history maintains only one EP, the five track Swell, it comes as no surprise that they’ve already gained some worthy attention, being named “highly commended,” on tracks one and five of that EP by the Queensland Music Awards.
All we can say now is “We want more!”
Q+A with Lloyd from Little Boom
With their LP Sweet, Sweet Rain getting National Airplay, and plenty of it, The Flumes are poised as one of this years up and coming bands. Their blend of Roots and Folk coupled with the resonating sounds of an Electric Harp has crafted a stylish niche.
With a growing list of Festival shows under their belt The Flumes look set to continue their push onto the scene. We managed to get a few moments out of their busy schedule to find out a little more about this chilled and captivating act.
When I listen to your sounds I imagine that you all materialized out of an exotic jungle in Queensland, how did you all meet and form The Flumes?
Kayt & Steph met in the North many moons ago and although we didn’t exactly spring from the forest, we did spend copious amounts of time exploring it’s wild depths. The Flumes trio were later born in the middle of a flood and after the waters receded, found themselves playing all sorts of soirees throughout the North. Later we made our way Southwards and settled on the Sunshine Coast working with a bunch of amazing percussionists before hooking up with Elliot in 2012.
On your LP Sweet, Sweet Rain I heard some jungle sound samples slipped into the mix, has life in the North had a hand in shaping your sound?
Living in the North for as long as we did, the tropics have definitely woven their way into our music. You’re isolated up there, and the relative quiet makes it a great creative nurturing ground for artists. The sample on the Apocaloptomist is Hamish the butcherbird hanging out in our studio on the Sunshine Coast. He always knew when it was time to jam.
How do you go about writing the music, is it a group effort or a sole songwriters efforts?
Most of The Flumes tunes are co-written by Kayt & Steph usually starting on the Harp and working from there. The songs then take on another form when we introduce the drums and solidify arrangements and work them up as a band. It’s an evolutionary process and we all contribute.
Some of these songs sound like they could be jammed upon for much longer are they written with this in mind?
Absolutely, most of our songs evolve from a jam. In the studio we have captured a distillation of the songs without being too brutal with the editing. The live version of the title track Sweet, Sweet Rain in particular has a different arrangement with us jamming out an extended outro.
Was there a concept behind the album Sweet, Sweet Rain?
Not intentionally. Although our love of water and rain definitely inspired the title and some of the lyrics.
The effects on this album give you quite a wide sound, do you in the future plan to add other instruments, artists to the line-up to experiment with other sounds?
We find the broad spectrum of the Harp creates such an eclectic range of sounds; encompassing guitars, keys and sometimes even steel drums that people often think there’s more of us on stage until they see us up close. It’s a fat sound as a trio so we’re always inclined to push the boundaries with the Harp before adding too many other layers. That said, we’re always open to experimenting with different flavours. We’ve always liked the idea of trumpet and piano accordion and recent live shows had guest percussion as well as tuba and ukulele joining us for a song.
Any places that you have played that had a really great sound or atmosphere?
Island Vibe festival – Great sound and lush tunes hard by the ocean.
Woodford Folk Festival – Massive crowds, Marcello from the Toothfaeries doing our on-stage sound and a crazy week immersed in amazing music and lots of mud!
House without Walls – amazing sound and beautiful audience.
Majestic Theatre (Pomona) – Wonderful acoustics and complimentary bikkies.
Is there any local acts that have had an influence on your sound/musical outlook ?
Not so much on our sound but we are always inspired by our fellow musical adventurers who go out on a limb and carve their own styles.
“It’s 1am on a Friday night. Lock & Load has just turned its lights on so everyone can see my drunk-ass face. I’ve had an unexpectedly embarrassing night which for the last hour I’ve been trying to kill with beer. I came here tonight to watch The Flumes, a friend’s band. The harpist – yes, this band has a harp. It’s about 6ft high, bright blue and electrified – is an old school friend of mine, Kayt. With her floor-length skirt and waist-length hair, plucking the strings of her harp she looks like she’s on a break from her real job of swimming about underwater and luring seamen to their deaths”.
“Harper Kayt Wallace artfully bends traditional expectations of what this ancient instrument should sound like, melding tones effortlessly into a unique, contemporary, upbeat style all her own.
With a solid rhythm section filling out their sound delivered by skilled bass guitarist Stephan Beattie and drumming prodigy Elliot Gwynne; The Flumes are guaranteed to surprise, entrance and entice you to dance.”
“…I love seeing other people’s reactions to a great local band that they haven’t seen before. There’s something gratifying about it. For a trio like The Flumes, who are steadily gaining momentum and really are rare musical animal, the reaction is completely just…”
Island Vibe Festival
This is just about our favourite festival blurb ever…Thanks Island Vibe, we love you too x.
Like pixies cavorting through an opium den in an albino rastafarian daydream. The Flumes seamlessly weave the organic tones of the giant harp with dubby grooves and rhythms – creating a lush cinematic brew.
The Flumes are one of those rare musical finds that seem impossible to pigeonhole into one genre. So when listening to their hypnotising new EP, I gave up completely and allowed myself to be carried along on the meandering psychedelic ride that is “Swell”.
– KURANDA ROOTS FESTIVAL 2011 – Queensland locals The Flumes bring psychedelic element to Kuranda Roots.
“…The soulful music of The Flumes spreads across a number of genres. They describe themselves as alternative folk fusion, however; their music predominantly sees elements of blues, funk, folk, jazz, reggae and rock which are very apparent when listening to these very talented musicians in a live setting or otherwise, on a recording. The earthiness of this group can be felt during any live performance where it is very easy to be swept away by their soothing yet soulful show. With a solid fan base and keen interest from music lovers The Flumes will no doubt bring a certain element of richness to the Kuranda Roots Festival where punters will get a taste of what this extraordinary group has to offer. With such a diverse range of music and instruments teamed with rich vocals The Flumes create an amazing live sound that has to be seen to truly be appreciated…”
“…The Flumes… Amazing would be an under statement, I had no idea what i was in for but hearing great things on the grape vine…I kicked back with a beer in hand, suddenly these magical sounds filled my ears, soothing my soul to its very core. The sound of the Electric Harp was intense, bass rounding out the edges and chick drummer Bam Bam tactfully placing a solid back bone to this
soul-wrenching melodic orgasm, :0
it truely was the first time I have been so mesmerized by such sounds… I will be heading out to see this band again…”
TimeOff – iss 1515
This photo of Kayt is Steph’s winning entry in LisaSister + Scope Magazine’s 2012 Sunshine Coast Music Photography Competition.
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