Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Félix: Frontera was a totally new way for us to compose. The whole soundtrack took almost a year to complete. We were all excited to be involved in a multimedia show and to collaborate with dancers and a choreographer. It was a big challenge but we accepted it with open arms. The concepts and ideas about the show comes from Dana and her creative partners.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Roger: As a band, it’s a bit difficult to talk about an ideal state of mind for being creative, but certain conditions are more prone to us being productive than others. Our compositions rely heavily on audio processing via computer, overdubs, and editing, but they start in our jam space as “regular” rock songs. So you could say the vibe of the four of us in the same room definitely feeds into the outcome of a song. Sometimes we have a few drinks, talk about music, joke around, sometimes we argue, get all heady about musical concepts, and all of this has the potential to foster creativity in some way. We also work on our own, processing sounds, finding new riffs and arrangements, etc, and we all have a different workflow and ideal headspace to work from.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Jonathan: We don’t have experiences with healing or hurting sounds. The depth of the meaning of hurting is way out of our reach. Unless we understand sound as amplitude. Our sonic presence was probably very loud at certain times. But more seriously, sometimes an agency can act as dual persistence. Like perception of sound as a vector of emotive episodes. There may be a potential tool in music for healing or hurting but in that logic, there are as many tools as there is a symptom. The band did not really consider the question of the affectation of sound but we may have experienced it in our everyday life. The example of Muzak might be a familiar correlation here. First of all, it refers to a form of sanitized, standardized background music considered uninteresting. But some people over time started to consider this music more seriously. There has been an enthusiastic audience for repetitive music featuring digitalized melodies, washed out in hazy reverb. Muzak was initially criticized for being manipulative. Indeed, it was created to be played in shopping centres and skyscrapers and was meant to "design" calmness and emotions in public spaces. Yet at some level, Muzak can be understood as a sort of ineffable comfort in small confined public spaces, like an elevator, or in the vastness of certain indoor public spaces.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
Félix: We feel it’s ok to borrow musically from other cultures as long as it’s respectful of the people and there is a reason for it. We have borrowed a bit from Afrobeat and funk on our second album but it was always just a vague inspiration that we transcended by adding incongruous or anachronistic elements to those influences.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
Roger: It’s hard to answer this in terms of how this applies to Fly Pan Am specifically, since this is not something that we have ever discussed as a band and therefore never consciously set out to explore together. You could say that part of what we are trying to do is create a sort of immersive experience through rock tropes. A kind of sensory assault so dense with details that your environment dissipates into an ether of frequencies and your sense of physicality is distracted and put on hold. Not sure this answers your question about there being an overlap between senses, but we’re hoping that the audio projection we create will have an effect on mood and atmosphere, potentially blurring the line between your sense of self and your environment. Mood and atmosphere are a good example of how senses overlap though, as often when we think back to a mood in particular, what we can remember of it, you can see it is often a mix of many different bits of information; a particular lighting, the smell in the air, the feeling of the world on your body. Like how the wind or heat affected you, or the humidity in the air, the sound of song, the voice of someone, how you were feeling psychologically…It’s a conjunction of so many different details that create this complex impression that leaves this mark on us…
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Jonathan: Describing our approach to art as “being” an artist may establish an endless output of possibility. We would first need to define what it means “to be” an artist. Adding to that, the question of engagement is very intriguing because engagement requires one to be engaged to something. Engaged to a certain logic? Or a sentimental authority? Or anything else. The purpose of Art or its ramification on everyday life may easily be understood as many meanings that can potentially create new forms of intelligibility. As an approach, we might have a subtle tendency of tracing effects instead of finding answers and causes. What is also interesting about the social and the political as a realm, is the possibility of finding and sharing new resources of creativity. As Kristeva once said, singularity creates communities.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Jonathan: Music can express anything about life because it is experiential. What music can express about death is: nothing.