Flora Cash join Atwood Magazine in a fireside chat to discuss life on the road, marriage, and their latest twelve-track album, ‘Baby, It’s Okay.’
Stream: ‘Baby, It’s Okay’ – Flora Cash
Over the past years, Swedish-American indie pop duo Flora Cash (consisting of Shpresa Lleshaj and Cole Randall) have garnered mass attention within the music world, continually rising as a result of their strong songwriting that has placed them in firmly in the commercial spectrum. With their 2017 breakout hit “You’re Somebody Else” resulting in a deal with Sony Music’s RCA Records the following Summer, the duo now unveil the next step in their career with their sophomore album Baby, It’s Okay.
Remaining consistent in their soft and somber delivery, Flora Cash explore similar themes to their past works such as post-breakup blues and coming to terms with oneself, all coated in melancholic and bittersweet vibes. The album wastes no time, beginning heavy with “Born In the Slumber,” which was made for and featured on the immensely popular video game “Death Stranding.” It speaks of a post apocalyptic wasteland where the government is gone and delves into what it’s like to be born in a landscape of chaos, with strong bass lines, large percussive drums and tragic vocals featured prominently. Listeners are guided into “You Love Me” which continues with a sizzling bass line and delicate vocals, as Cole sings about how even though their relationship is good and “isn’t broke,” he still feels deep insecurities over it. The track concludes with the couple singing “Yeah, you love me” over and over, seeming to close an episode of insecurity and ultimately concluding in love. The pace changes with “Electricity” as Shpresa takes the lead, her unique and brooding vocal timbre permeating the mix. With lyrics kept fairly simple, she describes the “electricity she feels when she’s touched by her lover, and how she trusts him and continues to fall deeper in love still after many years of their relationship. Unique worldly percussion gives the lyrics a strong sonic foundation.
“Honey Go Home” and “I Wasted You” continue on these same themes – minimal introductions, and impressive vocal lines are laced over lush, electro-pop instrumentals as delicate as they are organic, all delving into relational themes. An honest etude sweeps in with “Missing Home,” as Cole begins to speak about what seems to be his newfound touring life and fame. Even though he’s “mining gold,” he’s also missing the simplicity of what he considers home. Shpresa softly reminds him that home is defined by “where the heart is.” “In A Little Bubble” forms another perfect addition to the album’s romantic narrative, as Shpresa again takes the lead in a soaring love letter, heavy in emotion. Moreover, the phrase “Baby, it’s okay” is repeated over and over in celebration of love and alluding to the title of the album. Making for one of the albums most impactful tracks, “Still Alive” is a sombre track but one that’s driven by an uplifting message of encouragement: No matter how many times you’re knocked down, you can get back up. You’re still alive. Sustained Rhodes-inspired keys create a brooding atmosphere throughout, while the familiar mid-heavy bass line is replace with a low, rumbling sub, as Shpresa wraps up the song singing “I’ve been knocked down so many times” over and over again.
Things pick up after this with hopeful promises in “They Own This Town,” as Flora Cash sing “It’s coming, the moment we waited for so long. We have it, we’re on it, we’ll have it, I promise.” “For A While” and their hit “You’re Somebody Else” follow suit, one again delving into themes of unconditional love and struggle, in a stunning display of stripped back, emotive songwriting.
The album closes with “Love Is In The Small Things,” a soft ballad and a perfect nod back to the theme of Baby, It’s Okay, as both Cole and Shpresa remember how they met, their enormous personal and shared conflicts, and that through everything – love is in the small things.
“Baby, It’s Okay” is a well thought-out, congruent and brilliantly detailed story of a complex relationship that both partners make work through effort and love, and one that forms the basis for a stunning second studio album.
Stream: ‘Baby, It’s Okay’ – Flora Cash
A CONVERSATION WITH FLORA CASH
Atwood Magazine: Hi guys, thanks for joining us! Firstly, congratulations on the new album release! It must be a great feeling to finally be able to share it with your fans. How are you feeling about its reception so far?
Flora Cash: It’s been super gratifying and humbling the way people have responded. These songs have been a long time coming it’s really great to see people connecting with them.
Could you take readers through the album’s inception? What was the writing process behind it like and what does this record mean to you?
Flora Cash: These songs taken together span 7 years. They come from several different phases of ours lives but they still form a cohesive whole; it was really important to us that it didn’t feel like a mix tape, but a record. For us, the writing process is always different and in the end we try to follow our inspiration and do whatever works. Some songs were started by one of us and then the other would help finish it – and some were completely written together; it really varied. For us, this album is very personal and it actually gives us comfort; the hope was that it would do that for other people as well.
Explain the story behind the album title?
Flora Cash: It really just encapsulated the overall message of this record. That is to say: dark times don’t last and everything has a silver lining. Take the good that you can from any situation and try to move forward.
Do you both have a favourite song or songs from the album?
Flora Cash: We really love all these songs. We write so often and have such a massive back catalogue that we really had to give a lot of thought to which songs would make the album. We really didn’t have the space to choose any songs we didn’t love.
You were previously right on the cusp of your “Baby, It’s Okay” tour. What can fans expect from this tour, when it happens?
Flora Cash: Obviously amid all of this COVID-19 craziness, the responsible thing was to postpone our originally planned tour until July when hopefully the worst of this will be behind us. We were super excited to play for our fans but peoples’ health is the priority. Once we are finally able to do this tour, people can expect a show unlike any we’ve ever put on. We’ve thought about every second of the production and the set list and really want to make the experience unforgettable.
Do you have any special-crazy diets or gym routines, or at this stage is it all just second nature?
Flora Cash: Ha! Yeah it’s a pretty intense schedule but we actually prefer shorter, more intense tours because you really get into the flow when it’s day after day after day. If you take too many breaks, it kind of pulls you out of the zone and then you have to get back into it again. In terms of diets or working out; we try to do both before a tour so that we’re in good shape (physically and mentally.) Usually we do a basic reduced carb diet and try to do an intense workout routine every other day in the weeks leading up to a tour. Obviously during a time like this, we’re not going to the gym – but we have an area in our apartment where workout.
Touring like that and seeing so many different cities and people must definitely create some amazing moments. What’s one of your favourite memories from on tour that you remember?
Flora Cash: There are so many that it’s hard to narrow in on one in particular! One of our favorite moments was when Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional showed up back stage at one of our shows in Nashville. We had met him one other time in California and he had told us he was a fan. Funny thing was no one saw him come in to the venue or the backstage; not even the security! He chatted with us for about 10 minutes and then as quickly as he appeared, he left. We’re big fans so that was really cool.
You guys have been on the road for 8 years now. How does married life play into that and what is it like to work and tour with your partner?
Flora Cash: Hard to believe it’s been that long. Generally it’s great. We’re best friends and we enjoy spending our time together so touring is just an extension of what we already do, but obviously with a bit more adventure involved.
Your Mighty Fine EP is almost 8 years old now. What does that record mean to you guys looking back on it?
Flora Cash: Well we’ve evolved a lot since those days. Our tastes have changed a lot and we’ve learned so much. But we have a soft spot for the older material. It reminds us of how far we’ve come and how lucky we are to have found each other; and to have found an audience.
How would you say your music changed over the years?
Flora Cash: At the risk of sounding dramatic: it has become more itself.
Your smash hit “Somebody Else” continues to climb in popularity and rack up streams every day. I actually just heard it in a new Netflix series “Locke and Key.” Do you have many similar experiences of hearing your own music being played (either in a cafe or on radio) and how do you react to that?
Flora Cash: It’s so crazy. We always had a good feeling about the song but we could have NEVER predicted the kind of resonance it has had with people. It truly has taken on a life of its own and it has changed our lives. We’re so grateful that our big breakthrough is a song like You’re Somebody Else because we will never get tired of playing it, will never get tired of its message or what it means to people. We’ve probably performed the song thousands of times at this point and every single time we do, we smile either outwardly or inside and count our blessings; we know it’s a rare thing and we feel blessed.
We have been lucky to hear this and other songs on the radio or in a department store or a coffee shop and it never ever gets old. It is as surreal every time as it was the first time. We usually laugh and say something like, “This is crazy!! We are so lucky.”
With all the writing that must get done, how do you decide which tracks get released?
Flora Cash: Good question! A lot of it just happens to come together as we work and process things. The main criteria are: do we love this song? Does it feel like a good time to release this song or should we wait? If we’re putting this on an album, how does it feel surrounded by these other tracks?
There’ve been a lot of remixes and covers of your music over the years and recently. Do you have a favorite?
Flora Cash: Not particularly. But we love when people remix or cover our music; it’s incredible gratifying and we try to watch all of them and comment when we can.
Describe each other with only one word!
Cole: I’d describe Shpresa as “perspicacious”
Shpresa: I’d describe Cole as “industrious” 😉
Thank you both for your time, any parting words for fans and readers?
Flora Cash: We very much hope people enjoy Baby, It’s Okay, and we’d love for people to come connect with us. Instagram and YouTube, especially while all of us are social distancing through this tough period. Thanks so much for having us and for the great questions! Stay safe!
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📸 © Daniel C. Shippey
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