Production duo Flight Facilities have been gallivanting around the world in the last few months, spreading the sweet sounds of their original dance tracks across the Americas and Europe. They’ve just released their new single I Didn’t Believe (featuring Elizabeth Rose on vocals) and are in the midst of an Australian tour, when we speak.
In person, Jimmy Lyell and Hugo Gruzman are a couple of jokers and their laughter punctuates our conversation. “We were testing a whole bunch of people for it and she was the best,” says Gruzman of how they chose Rose for the track. “But we find [vocalists] in all different ways. One in the junk mail folder, a couple in bars, one [who was] a fan.”
He’s not joking. One serendipitous New Year’s in Byron came full circle six years later, when an impressive singer that Lyell had seen performing on the back of a truck turned out to be the friend of a housemate. “It was 2005 and I saw this band play and I was like ‘woah!’ I could remember that they were called Curtis. But the internet wasn’t thriving then, so when I got home I couldn’t really find much about them, so I kind of just left it.
“Then in 2011 I was living with this girl in Bondi and she said ‘Why don’t you try my friend Curtis, he’s in Byron?’ I was like ‘Shut up. Give me the phone’. I called him straight away and he is just amazing. He’s touring with us now and he has toured with us quite a lot.”
Rose is also coming along for the Australian dates, off the back of her vocal work on the new single. The track doesn’t use any samples at all. “We don’t sample anything,” Lyell confirms. “Moloko was one of the biggest references and another big one, for the feel of it, was a Jamiroquai song, and Groovejet,” he says, referring to the Sophie Ellis-Bextor/Spiller hit of 2000.
The clip, which comprises footage lifted from the legendary Soul Train television series, which ran from 1971 to 2006, is something to behold. Was it difficult to get the rights to the clips? “Well, no…” both boys begin in unison, before busting up laughing. “We just kind of did it,” Lyell admits. “We’ll see what happens. They just whacked an ad on it and we’re cool… On the record, thanks very much Soul Train! They could easily have pulled it down.”
While their latest releases use all original parts, the pair did begin by remixing others’ tracks. Gruzman’s cousin was one half of the widely adored Bang Gang label, which gave them good access. “At the time, [Bang Gang] were doing remixes and original releases and so they were always giving us the parts and stuff, so we just tried our hand at a few things,” Gruzman explains. “Then we decided we needed to do an original, more out of pressure than anything, and that was [2010 single] Crave You.”
The two were present in April at the Bang Gang reunion to honour recently fallen comrade AJAX, although the schedule ended up leaving them a little green around the gills. “We finished our American tour, we were [exhausted], changed our flight to get back on the Friday morning, then flew to Melbourne on Saturday afternoon. We were like, less than shells of human beings,” says Lyell.
The American tour was taxing, with 17 dates jammed into 24 days. The distance they covered during that time was extraordinary, with the duo taking in “Newport, LA, San Fran, Vancouver, Austin, Mexico City, Miami, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, New York, Toronto, Montreal, back to New York, back to LA,” says Lyell.
Playing the Dominican Republic was an experience to say the least. “It was like playing in a food court, because everyone just kind of chatted, then our songs would come on and they’d sing them louder than anyone’s ever done it before,” says Gruzman. “They love our songs, but any in between noise they were like, ‘Yeah, whatever, so what have you been doing lately?’ It was the strangest dynamic we’ve ever had.”
Flight Facilities play sold-out shows at Oxford Art Factory on May 25 and 26.