Interviews

Flasher Talk Constant Image, Working with Jason Vernhes and Their Love for Shoegaze and

Header photo by Amy Breesman*

By: Sun Noor

Following the release of their self-titled EP last year, DC’s Flasher put out their debut record, Constant Image earlier last month via Domino. The band consist of guitarist Taylor Mulitz (Priests) bassist Daniel Saperstein and drummer Emma Baker who all play in various projects outside of the band. The outfit managed to cultivate a unique sound which is heavily influenced by genres such as shoegaze and experimental rock and even punk. Their exist a refreshing element within their music, given its rawness. For instance, Constant Image appears to be quite the well structured, cathartic record, as the band expresses their thoughts and frustrations on several topics including the current political climate. What I love most about this album is the straightforward delivery, which allows listeners to relate. I caught up with the trio before they were due to play their first headlining Montreal show at Brasserie Beaubien just a few days after their record release, in order to discuss all things Constant Image.

Album artwork for Constant Image

You’ve just embarked on a headlining tour a few days ago, how has that been treating you?

Taylor: ” It’s been good. Some of the shows have been amazing and then other ones have been less well attended, that how I would describe it, but you know it is what it is. It’s our first headlining tour especially one where it’s like all in proper venues through a booking agent which is sometimes hit or miss if you get the right promoter of if they have the time to really get the word out but it’s been fun.”

Have there been any memorable shows thus far? 

Emma: “New York was the day our record came out so it was all like one party and it was fun.”

Taylor: “Boston too, even though it wasn’t like that popping in terms of the turnout, we played with our friends band Halfsour and they really brought the good vibes, which was nice.”

I want to congratulate you on the release of your debut album, Constant Image  which came out on Friday. How does it feel to finally have a full-length record out?

Taylor: “Relived. It’s been kind of anxiety enduing in the lead up. Having it all feel very unknown as to what is gonna happen but it seems like people are responding to it well and it feels really good. It’s always scary to like let people rate something that you poured so much energy into.”

Emma: “Yeah it feels very strange.”

How long have you guys been working on the record? Take me through the recording process.

Emma: “We started writing it basically the month before we went to record and we were like still kind of writing it in the studio. That was August (of 2017) and then October we went to the studio for two weeks where we did first basic tracking and then we went on tour for like three weeks in the middle of that. We then went straight back to New York for another two weeks, which was supposed to be the time allotted for mixing but we weren’t there yet so we’ve been doing a lot of overdubs and stuff like that and then continued to mix it for another three weeks back home, so it was like a few months in the end of that process.”

Taylor: “It all wrapped up in October and I think in January like after mastering it.”

Daniel: “To be honest I think we all feel like the reason why it took a long time necessarily didn’t have to be that way but traditionally we did spend months on the record.”

When it came to the album’s creative process, you take a similar approach as that of the self-titled EP?

Daniel: “No it was very different. We have a studio that I run with Emma’s partner in DC where we traditionally recorded ourselves but when we started working with Domino, they suggested that we might want to consider working with someone outside and they gave us a list and we added to the list and we talked to some people and we were very interested given the opportunity for the first time to try a different process kind of arbitrarily and do something that would be kind of uncomfortable but exciting. Working with someone how had a lot of experience was one way to do that and we really liked Nicholas'(Vernhes)  records and body of work as a whole. He has a lot of really different, unique sounding records under his engineering, that was really exciting. The idea that we could make a record with someone that has so much experience but that we could depend on to make it sound unique.”

Your music contains elements from shoegaze, psych rock and even punk, what are your main influences when it comes to writing or cultivating your sound?

Taylor: “When we were writing the record, some of the influences that we were all kind of listening together were people like Blood Orange who was a big influence, this Argentinian electronic folk musician named Juana Molina who is amazing, Stereolab, Broadcast, Brian Eno, Autolux which is more in the shoegaze world. Interestingly enough when it comes to recording and the way that those recordings sound, it was only after doing more extensive research that we realized that a lot of those artists have recorded themselves.”

You’ve all played in different bands over the years, did you see a drastic difference in the creative process of this record compared to your previous projects?

Taylor; “Yeah I would say so. The other band that I play in is called Priests and is also very collaborative but the dynamic between the members is so different. The process on paper is similar but the way that it plays out or feels is totally different. ”

Emma: “Yeah I would say the same, I play in another band called Big Hush and the band is two couple so it often ends up with me and my partner writing music together and the other couple also write together and we’ll like come together but like the other couple broke up so we’re not a band right now.”

Daniel: “It’s different also then, I mean for any of us more than just other bands even for ourselves it was different I think mostly circumstantially because we had to write it (the album) very quickly. We wrote most of it from start to finish starting in August right into recording.”

Taylor: “Yeah that writing process was really rigorous.”

Emma: “We’d meet up everyday and like work on stuff and try to demo things.”

Taylor: “Yeah and at first I was out of town.”

Emma: “I was on tour for like the first two weeks of them starting to write together and so i came into it late, which really freaked me out.”

Taylor: “Because we had always done stuff collaboratively between the three of us and for like Emma to come when there’s already stuff on the table that’s like flushed out in a certain way. Those songs were all totally changed once live drums were introduced because before it was just like Danny  mostly programming stuff on logic.”

Daniel: “Yeah for all sorts of things which we really enjoyed. There are certain songs that we were pretty sure the main hook was there and then Emma would come in a just like totally have end it and like suggest an entirely new melodic structure, which is exciting to hear something that you were just recently sure was so concise be flipped on its head and revealed as a new thing. That’s even more exciting in ways you could have never anticipated.That is the biggest benefit of working with other people that are very passionate and listen very seriously to each other very seriously and I feel really lucky to work with them.”

Do you make deadlines for yourselves? You’ve mentioned how rigorous the writing process was for the album. 

Taylor: “For me definitely otherwise I would never get stuff done,I’ve been a procrastinator my whole like so having deadlines helps but for my mental health, they’re bad.”

Emma: “They’re necessary.”

If you were to describe Constant Image in one word,what word would you use?

Taylor: “Lit, fire and popping. I saw a French review that we translated and it was a good description, ‘Aa mix of vitamine pop with sauce.”

Emma: “Is that a bad translation or does that mean something?”

Taylor: “Who cares, it’s cool.”

Daniel: “What if they meant vital pop?”

Taylor:”I like vitamine pop.”

Lastly, what are your current favourite records?

Emma: “The new U.S Girls record is one of my favourite ones of the year, I’ve listened to it so many times.”

Taylor: “I have two one is from this band called Olden Yolk that’s amazing I really love it and I’ve been listening to it a lot .The new Beach House record too.”

Daniel:”That’s the one for me.”

Taylor: “What about you?”

I really like the nee Beach House record a lot as well and there’s also this UK band shoegaze/ prog rock called Ulrika Spacek’s new EP “Suggestive Listening EP” which just came out for Record Store Day. I also really like the latest Slowdive’s record and all five of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s records from last year. 

Taylor: “Cool, I would say that the new Beach House record is very shoegazey.”

Daniel: “Yeah it’s definitely the most shoegazey I think I’ve ever head them do and it reminds me a lot of MBV one of the songs is so much like that it has this old like static movement.”

Stream Constant Image below:

Watch Flasher’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert below:

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