Flash Fiktion is a three-piece band from South London, England consisting of Matt "Rokk" Bishop (vocals, synth, guitar), Oliver Thomas (guitar, vocals), and Dan Peranic (drums, percussion). The band's name comes from a specific form of short stories, which could fit on the back of a postcard. Prior to forming Flash Fiktion in 2009, Bishop and Thomas were bandmates in the indie rock band Switches. Shortly after the group split, they met Peranic by chance and bonded over films and music. The trio is heavily inspired by everything from the glam rock stylings of David Bowie, to the electro-psych indie rock outfit MGMT, with rhythmic influences from Latin and African music. Recording primarily without the help of studio producers, Flash Fiktion released their first single Leni in the summer of 2010. It was followed by UK tours supporting The Bravery and Young Knives. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2011, on Split Records.
As with any random group of passionate people in a working environment, sometimes it's hard to find people you truly mesh with. You may be able to work well together, and tolerate them on a daily basis. But once you find the magic combination of human beings, you realize what you've been missing out on up until that point. Suddenly these people you work with everyday become more than just co-workers. They become your friends, your support system. South London's Flash Fiktion seems to be one of those bands who are more than just three guys who happen to play music together. Seeing the trio (drummer Dan Peranic, singer/guitarist/synth-player Matt Rokk, and guitarist/vocalist Ollie Thomas) gathered in front of a web cam in Peranic's apartment, it was evident that they're actually really good friends. When you're an independent band, and don't have the resources of a major label, you have to rely on each other for support. Their 2011 self-titled debut album was recorded primarily without the help of studio producers, allowing Flash Fiktion to have full control on what they put out. What they've accomplished is an album of glam-rock inspired, technicolor explosions of musical escapism. Read on to find out more about the process of creating the album, and the people who created it.
Band of the Day: Question: If your music is supposed to be a form of escapism, what are you escaping from and where are you escaping to?
Matt: I guess we're escaping from our urban London lives.
Dan: And I think just the music scene in general! (laughs) Because there's nothing...
Matt: The music scene's quite bad, really
Dan: There's not so many bands that can just give you a good time, you know? There's Kings of Leon, and stuff like that, but if you want to see the younger bands, they're all too depressed for my taste, to be honest!
Matt: We're trying to escape from that, really. We're trying to bring back some sort of color and vibrancy to new music. I think there's a lot more interesting things going on in the States at the moment. But in England...
Dan: In today's environment, it's all doom and gloom and slow and stuff like that, so we're just trying to be happy!
Band of the Day: So why do you think music is in such a depressed mood right now? Do you think it's an economic thing?
Matt: Yeah, our economic crisis is making everyone a bit down, and it's affecting music.
Dan: And it's very trendy to be depressed [in London]!
Matt: [laughs] We are depressed in real life, so we want our music to be like an antidote to that.
Band of the Day: Your song “Science Of Sleep” is inspired by the Michel Gondry film of the same name. What was it about this film that struck a chord with you?
Matt: I saw it in the cinema ages ago, about 4 or 5 years ago, and it was just the starting point for the first piece of music this album consisted of. It's kind of one of those films where everything's a bit fantasy-like, a bit dream-like, a bit distorted. Colorful, and trippy, and playful. And I guess that's where the whole kind of direction came from.
Band of the Day: Do you think that, with the internet, the mystique of the artist is starting to be destroyed? And, if so, is that a good or bad thing?
Matt: Very much so. Because when I was young I used to fantasize about pop stars... I didn't want to know about when like, David Bowie would go to the toilet or something like that! [laughs] 'Cause these are special people that you're supposed to idolize...
Ollie: I think it's very important to retain a bit of mystique, especially if you're a fan of music, as we all were growing up. It was always important to read about people. But you kind of want to seek out that knowledge, you don't want to be passed it. I do think the internet is a good thing, but it's kind of the best and worst thing that's happened to music. It's so accessible, and everything is literally at your hands when you're in a band, but it's also killed it a little for me.
Matt: But ultimately I think it's a good thing because even though the sort of mystique as an artist has eroded slightly, I still think it's a good thing what the internet has done for music. I know that's a bad thing for the industry in a way, but it's great because you can just find so many good things to listen to!
Dan: And small bands, that have talent, don't have to depend so much on record labels.
Dan: That's the best thing about it, in my opinion.
Band of the Day: And Ollie and Matt, you guys came from a major record label with Switches, right?
Ollie: Yeah, and it didn't really work out, to be honest! I guess it wasn't really what our destiny was, in a way.
Band of the Day: So do you feel like you have more artistic control of everything, now that you're doing it on your own?
Matt: To be quite frank, I'm still fond of a lot of the stuff we did in Switches. But in a way, you did kind of feel the pressure if...not really stylistically, I wasn't told what to do, but I was given a lot of pressure about certain elements of the music like, “Oh, the chorus has to come in now!” And that's fine, but ultimately it's nice to actually have the freedom. I think with a major label, you always know in the back of your mind that if you do something that's a little bit different, you're gonna get your knees slapped, aren't you?
Dan: I don't think a major would ever release the album that we just did.
Matt: We didn't even go near majors when we thought about putting this album out, because we knew it would be a waste of time [laughs]!
Ollie: This is absolutely the album we wanted to create, and we probably entertained every one of our whims and didn't have anyone else to answer to. Which might sound a bit ridiculous because it's good to have confine but...
Dan: I think we're actually privileged because we managed to deal with the same things that bands did in the 70s, with all these over-indulgent albums [laughs]!
Ollie: It's a bit over-indulgent, but still in a pop song!
Band of the Day: Do you feel like location plays a big influence in your music? Do you think you might've come up with a completely different album if you recorded in, I dunno, the tropics or somewhere completely different?
Matt: I don't think it's so much the music, but more about how it affects our attitude, really. But I think musically, we're just sort of influenced by everything we've listened to in our lives. Our influences are in us, regardless of where we're living.
Dan: The environment where we did the album definitely made us more focused. There's nothing to do around the studio...nothing! So if we were rehearsing and recording in some posh, trendy part of London we would just go out and be like, “Oh, let's have a drink here!” But around our studio, there's literally nothing and we would just be in there for hours.
Ollie: That's been kind of a theme in the album, in a way, wanting to break out. And it's not exactly location-specific, it's literally our immediate surroundings. Our studio really was kind of claustrophobic, and the “Leni” video is a reflection of that.
Matt: When we did the album with Switches, it was a really nice studio in LA and it was a fun experience, but I don't think we were as creative as we've been in our dingy little room here! It's inspiring to be in a drab place, it's very strange!
Band of the Day: It's kind of like when you grow up in a small town versus a big city, right? And you're kind of forced to make your own fun.
Matt: We all grew up in, not small towns, but not big cities. And I think that, when you're just put in a random place, you kind of think, “oh, why am I in this place?” If you were a kid living in London, in a posh part like Chelsea, you probably wouldn't have any questions about your life, would you?
Dan: You'd just think about when is your next holiday!
Band of the Day: And then you just make trendy, depressing music, right?
Dan: [laughs] Something like Cha-millionaire!
Band of the Day: If you had to come up with a mission statement for your band, what would that be?
Matt: Hmm...What would we say? What do we stand for? Just going with your own instincts and not going with what people tell you to do. Going with your feeling and your gut, and what your heart is telling you.
Ollie: Musically, certainly. But I think it's really difficult to try and put it in [one statement]. I guess I would say that I would like for us to do what we believe in, but have it affect people on a mass scale, and I think one day we'll achieve that.
Dan: Destroy the mainstream [laughs]!
Matt: We're never gonna do that, let's be realistic! We're never gonna compete with these corporate, X Factor contestants, people like that. But we can destroy the perception of it in like-minded people like us. So we can provide an alternative for people who want it.
Band of the Day: I read somewhere that your music was described as “mutant pop.” So if you could create the ultimate mutant glam-rock musician, who would you choose for each part of their mutant body?
Ollie: [laughs] That's quite a good question, really! Wait, so like a different body part from different musicians?
Band of the Day: Yeah like, I dunno, Bowie's head and the left finger of...
Ollie: Django Rheinhardt!
Matt: The brains of Bowie! The playfulness of Captain Beefheart, with the voice of Freddie Mercury...
Dan: Stage moves have gotta be Mick Jagger!
Matt: Yeah, magnetism of Mick Jagger, Brian Wilson's gift for harmony...
Dan: What about the eyes of Stevie Wonder [collective laugh and groan]?
Matt: Uhh...oh yeah, the lips of Mick Jagger as well!
Ollie: Bones of Beefheart, brains of Bowie, fingers of Django [laughs]!
Dan: Left arm of Led Zeppelin's drummer! Ok wait, what did we say? Oh yeah, Bowie's intellectualism, Freddie Mercury's voice, Mick Jagger's movements (and lips), Bonham for drums, Django Rheinhardt for guitar...
Ollie: What do normal people say to that question?!
Band of the Day: I can't say I've ever asked it before! Ok, so finally, do you guys have any resolutions for 2012?
Dan: Everything we've done this year was really great, and we've put loads of work into it, so the resolution is to get some cash, to be able to pay some rent [laughs]!