In preparation for Swamp Record Showcase I had the pleasure to sit down and talk with two members of Gainesville’s only “cosmifunkpop” band, Flat Land. Lead vocalist and violinist, Fae Nageon de Lestang, and drummer, Grant McLeod gave me a run down of what they have been up to and where they’re going.
Flat Land has had a busy year. In the last twelve months the band has played at Jacksonville festival One Spark and founded a music education nonprofit, Future Music Makers. They also had the opportunity to play Suwanee Hulaween, a major music festival and their biggest until Okeechobee Music Fest this past March. When asked to talk about their experience the two still seem elated.
McLeod said, “The process to getting to really play for Okeechobee was amazing. Our fans were so good at spreading the word and supporting us. We won by a pretty significant margin, which is pretty humbling, and we felt great about that. We were the first round winners, so we got to play on the main stage on Sunday afternoon and the same day on that stage was Jason Isbell, who just won two Grammys; Ween, who has been a huge band for the past decade or so; The Avett Brothers; and Mumford and Sons. Earlier that week on that same stage was Robert Plant, Kendrick Lamar, Skrillex and bunch of people. Not just our stage, but the whole festival was honestly. The best line up I’ve seen, maybe ever. It was an incredible line-up, and so to be on the same line-up and t-shirt as all these other bands was very humbling and an incredible experience. It was a huge step for us.”
Even after their whirlwind year, Flat Land isn’t looking to slow down. McLeod laid out the band’s summer plans, “We actually have a lot going on, we’re prepping for a pretty big summer ahead of us. So like Fae said earlier, we just finished tracking our album so we’re going to be mastering it in the next month or so. We’re doing all of the album artwork and prepping for that to release. At the same time we’re working on a music video with some local videographers and artists, and that’s going to be coming out with our single “Poco a Poco.” Once the video is done there will be an official release that should be the end of May/beginning of June and our album will done June-ish, and then we’re going on an album release tour which will be a month long.”
I was surprised by the new single’s obviously Latin influence and when asked Nageon de Lestang explained, “Our band all has very broad influences stylistically and we love a lot of Latin music and rhythm. That song definitely has some Afro Latin influences to it. So the chorus of the song is ‘little by little’; ‘poco a poco se llega lejos’ which means ‘little by little one goes far’. My friend always says that expression “poco a poco se llega lejos” and it’s something that really resonated with me and so I wrote a song about it.”
Flat Land is proud of their Gainesville roots, the band’s original members all met at the University of Florida School of Music and started playing together after graduation. I asked how being a band from Gainesville has effected their music and both had a lot to say. “I feel like so many of the musicians we look up to are from here, and Gainesville has such a wonderful and creative music scene, especially for being a small-town. I think the really cool thing about it is how collaborative it is here. Some of our favorite bands are friends we know that have been playing in town for a while,” said Nageon de Lestang. McLeod added, “Also I think Gainesville has influenced our music (and maybe it’s cheesy to say but) just by the natural beauty. We don’t live in a city that’s a concrete jungle - we were able to just watch the beautiful sunset on the Prairie tonight. It’s just kind of inspiring to live in the beauty that is Gainesville.” Staying true to their vibes, Flat Land said that while it’s hard to choose, the band’s favorite local venues to play are outdoors like the Backyard and the Jam.
Flat Land has been a part of the Swamp Records label for over a year now, and both McLeod and Nageon de Lestang spoke positively about their experience working the team. “This is our first year working with Swamp Records and we weren’t sure what it was going to be like or what the students’ level of involvement was going to be, but pretty much from the get-go our team has never failed to amaze us and really inspire us to work harder. I think that without Swamp Records there’s no way we would have been able to play at Okeechobee. We might not have had that opportunity if it had not been for all the hard work that everybody in Swamp Records put into helping us win that contest. Almost eight hundred bands applied, and it’s no coincidence that our Swamp team helped us to make that happen,” said Nageon de Lestang. “It’s fantastic the people on our team care about us and care about the community. It feels great to just have a team of people working with you,” McLeod chimed in.
McLeod also reflected on Flat Land’s performance last year at Swamp Records Showcase, “It was awesome, the production was really high and there was a lot of collaboration. It’s a really cool experience to have so many artists you don’t get that many shows with…15 or so artists. It’s really really cool for everyone to come together and play and collaborate.” The two expressed that they’re definitely looking forward to participating again this Friday at the Jam. Nageon de Lestang added her own take away, “Every year in Gainesville the student population is like twenty-five percent different. There’s a super-high changeover so it’s a great that Swamp Records is putting on this thing and really exposing different students to music that is here and available to them, so I think that’s a really great thing about Showcase.”
The Beatles or Elvis?
“Definitely the Beatles.”
- Carly Coughlin
This article was originally published online at the Swamp Records blog.