Before going full time with her music, Flohio worked as a graphic designer for Ninja Tune. She even contributed to Bonobo’s artwork, but when I mention it she doesn’t give its influence much weight.
“I always did music, not design. I did graphic design because I thought music would be so hard. I went to college, and thought I’d do music on the side. It just turned out that wasn’t the case.”
In the neo-liberal, capitalist cities we hail from (London, Glasgow and Dublin) it feels second-nature to be told that to work in a creative industry you’re either sacrificing the fruitful bounties that a safer option would offer, or you’re a dreamer. Head in the clouds, unrealistic about the political and financial climate we live in.
I ask Flohio if she thinks people our age are being dissuaded from following their dream careers.
“It’s always scary to do new things, innit?” She asks. “You don’t know what the outcome will be. It’s always putting the fear behind you. I want to learn French or Japanese, but I’m scared to learn a new language because I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. Driving as well. I’m scared I won’t pass that shit.”
The prospect of fear doesn’t appear too often in Flohio’s music, but it’s a theme that regularly crops up the more you read about her. She’s get’s a bit pissed when I tell her she’s often described as shy or introverted.
“I ain’t never been afraid! Who said I was afraid? Show me that article!” It’s said with tongue in cheek, though. She gets it.
“I am shy, I was shy. I didn’t even fill out CV’s to go to interviews. I would go to the door and turn around. I’d look to the door, the window, walk back. Couldn’t do it. I’d get so nervous and shit. I’m socially awkward. I grew up alone, parents never around. It was me, me, me. With music, people get me. They share my vibe.
“I’ve learned not to be shy about work, I have to open up,” she continues. “Have to do it. If it’s business or meetings, it’s different. I just can’t be bothered to talk, converse, release energy. I like being a wallflower, homebody, my space. I like being cosy.
“This is why I make the music I do. Someone called me an ambi-vert… I always said I was an introvert, but they said I was an extrovert although it has to be on my terms. If we’re all on the same page, I feel comfortable. It’s a two-way thing, I don’t know how to explain this shit, man. My music allows me to connect to my other side, my wild side, to be more outspoken and free.”
On stage, Flohio is precise, skilled and professional. Her flows are astonishing, and she has the swagger of someone who knows they have the crowd in the palm of their hands. She describes her live sets to being on autopilot.
“When I grab the mic, I lose control,” she tells me. “When I try to figure it out, like how is this shit working, my body is just going. It’s a weird feeling, almost an out-of-body experience. Everything is being slowed down. The words are coming out, but I’m not saying the words. I’m not having a conversation when I know what’s coming next They’re my songs, I wrote them, I know what’s coming next. But it’s not like that…”