Name: Florian Maier aka FloFilz
Current release: The new FloFilz album Close Distance is scheduled for release on April 8th 2022 via Melting Pot Music. Similar to his 2019 effort Transit, Close Distance, sees Florian Maier engage in a string of collaborations with both established and rising acts from the new London jazz scene. This time, his partners include Alfa Mist, Blue Lab Beats, Jerome Thomas, KeepVibesNear, Summers Sons & C.Tappin, Dal as well as Hunter Rose.
[Read our Alfa Mist interview]
[Read our Blue Lab Beats interview]
If these thoughts by FloFilz piqued your interest, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
For a closer look at FloFilz's inspirations and take on sampling, read our follow-up interview with him.
Collaboration has been an important element of your approach from day one. What's your take on it?
The best collaborations are based on trust. You have to be able to inspire and motivate each other, you have to be willing to tap into the unknown.
On the collaborative tracks on Close Distance, there was a strong sense of the sum being more than its parts. Whenever that's the case, I like to just see what the other person comes up with, to give them complete freedom! On the one hand, you don't want to force things. On the other hand, you need to be comfortable with the results.
Most of the guests are key players on the London jazz scene. You were part of that scene for a while. How would you describe your time there?
The London scene is a giant melting pot filled with incredibly talented musicians. They mutually inspire each other and there's a great sense of support. Everyone's experimenting, improvising and breaking down genre barriers – all of which is important to my own process as well.
One of the most influential locations for me personally was the “Jazz Café” in Camden Town. It was an honour being asked to play there a few times and I was a regular audience member as well. It was at that place where a lot of the connections and ideas for the collaborations on Close Distance were born.
There are a few well-known names on the guest list for the album. And then there are relative newcomers like Dal.
I discovered them by chance, mainly through their track "Those Days" featuring Leah Yeger.
When I heard that one, I instantly fell in love with it. It was only after I researched them a bit that I understood how young they are. I think that's part of the charm of our work together: They bring a positive inexperience to the table, they are eager to try things out and just play without reflecting about it too much.
I'd love to go out and perform with the guys or a similar band for sure. Another example are Bokoya, a jazz / hip hop quartet from Germany.
I recently spent a week with them and we recorded a lot material together. I learnt a lot during those sessions.
One of the standout characteristics of many of the London musicians, but also of someone like Makaya McCraven, is this seamless blend between electronic production and live performance. You seem to go into a similar direction on Close Distance.
I guess that's true, I really do love working with instrumentalists. If I think about Makaya, I think about the concept of jazz influencing hip hop and hip hop then feeding back into jazz again. It's a cycle which feels like home to me.
This combination of beats and live elements is very exciting. If the musicians you're working with use a beat as their point of departure, their entire interaction changes. The track "Levada" with the Trio Dal is a good example of that.
Do you mirror this improvisational aspect in your function as a producer as well?
Improvisation certainly plays an important role in my contributions! Sure, the basic production processes will be similar with each track. But modern DAWs give you unlimited possibilities to shake things up.
I guess you could describe my approach as controlled improvisation. Although I'll typically have a rough idea of what I expect from a piece. But many of the steps towards that goal are unprdictable and I'll develop ideas as I go. My entire approach is un-theoretical. I follow my gut, welcome experimentation and simply do what seems right in the moment!
We talked about Dal. Another really interesting partnership is "Skybox", your collaboration with Blue Lab Beats. They're one of the most celebrated acts on the London scene at the moment. What was your session like?
After the release show of my 2019 album Transit, the guys invited me into their small, but excellent Backyard Studio and we worked on some material for an afternoon.
I'd brought along a few of my most recent ideas as suggestions and they really liked one of them. It was like: "I have an idea, would you like to record it?" They'd do the first take and it sounded good – and then move straight to the next part.
We interviewed them for 15 Questions and they are just as sharp and on point in that conversation.
Their workflow is insane. Mr. DM is a fantastic musician, seemingly capable of playing any instrument at a really high level. And then you have NK-OK, who adds his producer skills to the mix. It was incredibly inspiring to be able to experience that and be a part of the team for an afternoon.
You've since moved to Berlin, which obviously also has a sprawling improv- and jazz scene. How will that influence your music, would you say?
The pandemic has made it really hard to truly explore the music scene of the city. That said, I'm pretty sure it will influence my music – in some way or another!