Taking Off With Flight Facilities
With their first full-length finally upon us, it's time to settle in for the in-flight entertainment.
JUST TWO DJ KIDS
By Troy Mutton
“I think I’m gonna punch anyone who says ‘When’s the next album coming out?’,” a jovial Hugo Gruzman beams down the line from his record label’s office, before laughing, “You know what, get the fuck out of here!”
Gruzman’s in a bloody good mood, and he has every right to be. Besides the fact he’s conducting interviews in the Future Classic offices, on “…a nice little balcony out the back with a little bar”, himself and co-pilot James Lyell’s first ever full-length under the Flight Facilities moniker is about to hit the airwaves.
Those first comments come about when it’s posed he must be looking forward to no longer having to field questions about when Flight Facilities are going to finally release a full-length album, following a string of single releases stemming back to their breakout single, Crave You feat. Giselle, in 2010. “Yeah if it took us four years to do our first one, we’re gonna need about eight to do the next,” he…jokes?
Indeed, their debut full length, Down To Earth, has been a long time in the making, but during that wait there’s been an incredibly successful ratio of hit singles from Gruzman and Lyall, includingForeign Language feat. Jess Higgs, Claire De Lune feat. Christine Hoberg, and last year’s Stand Stillfeat. Micky Green.
Foreign Language notwithstanding, all abovementioned tracks appear on the LP, although none feel dated or out of place, all sliding in perfectly to the narrative that is Down To Earth. A large part of this has been the album affording the duo the opportunity to think outside of the singles box, and create a full body of work. “That’s why we picked the three to put on there that we did,” Gruzman explains.
“It was like what are the three things missing on this album? What are the parts of the story that really tie this whole thing together? And the new ones in there really needed to be in there. Firstly the range of production we wanted to show, and also it’s mostly about the diversity for us.”
While the album does feature the duo basking in the realms of production we’ve come to expect over the years, it also sees them playing outside of the house/disco sandpit, an opportunity Gruzman reveled in: “Yeah, in some ways it was liberating that you could then think… ‘Let’s just make a nice instrumental song and make it as long as we need to make it’, and whether or not it gets any attention who cares?” he says, thinking about the release from an album perspective.
“So among us trying to make a few things that are tailored for just a good sing-along, we wanted to balance it with the ones where people can really discover it and only know about it if they’re a proper album listener.”
"I think I’m gonna punch anyone who says ‘When’s the next album coming out?'"
And for an act known mostly for crafting hit singles (and some incredible DJ mixes) up to this point,Down To Earth is a rewardingly full listen. A lot of this down to to the connective tissue between each track – “It’s a lot about those in between bits, the things we haven’t been able to do,” – but also due to the variety of tunes on display. The genre they had the most fun dabbling with? “Hip hop for sure, doing hip hop is so good man. If I could I would produce an entirely hip hop album for sure. Something about it is so much fun to do, the faults in it are part of what makes it so special,” he explains.
In fact, it would seem they really enjoyed getting away from what it is that’s garnered them fans the world over: “I think also doing some of the ones without a vocal. We’ve done vocal tracks, and doing things like Merimbula and Waking Bliss, these ones that are… I was gonna say blissed out but that’s why we called it that,” he laughs. “These are the ones that are instrumental and journey songs for the sake of listening and maxing out on the beach or something like that, because it makes the album’s other tracks shine in another way.”
Given it’s been four years, it shouldn’t really be any surprise a lot of thought, effort, and care has been taken with their long-awaited, first-ever long-player. The vocal guest choices are no different. “We always try and make a personalised email to vocalists saying, ‘We’re a huge fan of you we’d love to work with you because it would mean a lot to our cause and I think the final product’.”
It’s an approach that’s obviously paid off, with guests such as comedian/musician Reggie Watts, hyped young American rapper Bishop Nehru and recently-revealed Aussie legend Kylie Minogue on a reprise of Crave You. “And it’s nice of people like Reggie Watts to place the faith in us, who aren’t exactly a hugely world-renowned act, and for him to say alright ‘I’ll take a chance on these two DJ kids from Australia and who knows something great might come of it?’”
Just two DJ kids from Australia… From the outside they seem like a couple of jetsetting men of leisure, travelling the globe playing to huge crowds all over the world to thousands of adoring fans the world over. Their feet remain firmly on the ground though: “You still always compare yourself to the highest tier of the industry you’re in, and we’re nowhere near that world-renowned thing…
“So sometimes you have to be like, ‘Wow we have come a long way we have to be proud of ourselves’, but sometimes you gotta check yourself, and not get to fair ahead of ourselves. I still play little bar gigs on the weekends in tiny little cocktail bars and stuff like that, and it’s not like people run up and say, ‘Hey are you this guy?’” he chuckles. “There’s no way that stuff’s gonna happen, so I still feel like I’m another Sydney DJ like a lot of my friends.”
Incase you hadn’t guessed, Gruzman and Lyell are couple of pretty likeable chaps. “The music industry is one of those things, it’s so cyclical people could go just go ‘Nup don’t like it anymore’, and you can disappear overnight. So if that happens I just wanna appreciate everything I’ve got and not turn into a dick, because no one’s gonna be there to have your back if it does go arse up.”
That attitude is reflected in the care Gruzman and Lyall have given not towards just the sonic of the album release, but also the extras, the physical elements like their ‘Flight Kits’ and airplane USBs. “It also makes people feel like they’re part of this whole journey and vibe. It’s so fun, it’s like ‘cool I’ve got this little piece of memorabilia to last me a lifetime’ – just these tiny little bits going the extra mile make fans feel like it’s something more than just someone releasing music to make a career.”
Release covered, pre-release covered, that just leaves the upcoming Down To Earth tour, touring Australia with Owl Eyes on vocal duties, a new show and “all our original stuff, so every single one of our songs pretty much.” They’re then off for a quick sojourn overseas for special shows in Berlin, Paris, London, Dublin, NYC and LA, followed some rest in the lead-up to St Jerome’s Laneway Festival next year.
“Yeah man I’m just gonna sit at the beach in Sydney and take a weight off and listen to just the water for a while so I don’t have to hear any music. After this whole tour and this whole run it’ll be nice to check ourselves and play the voyeur and see how this album goes I think.”
And maybe start work on album number two?
“FUCK!” he explodes in a fit of laughter.