‘It’s my job to create an experience, but it’s on the listener to make it unique and special to their existence.’
Flwr Chyld x Evan Dale // May 1, 2020
If there are two words with which to describe Atlanta producer, instrumentalist, and DJ, Flwr Chyld, they would be indefinable and knowledgeable. Though both adjectives are rooted most fervently in his home city, Flwr Chyld is also very much the product of the borderless reach as direct result of the internet era’s effect on sharing music.
His production blends effervescent chord progressions with a nostalgia for R&B of the past, drawing to him an always growing number of collaborators whose expanses transcend neo-soul, hip-hop, and indie music. And once working with him, Flwr Chyld’s unending ability to compose thoughtful, congruent collections outpaces any other modern producer with an ability to coalesce stylistic range into something altogether new and unexplored.
Though young, Flwr Chyld is already a proven veteran with past academic, geographic, and canonical pillars able to prop up the immensity of his future. En route towards a new EP, we spoke with him on Atlanta, unearthing the city’s musical soul, and ushering in a musical future that hopefully transcends the labels he so defies and outwardly despises.
RNGLDR: Atlanta being a musical hub is nothing new. Hip-hop in particular has been at home in Atlanta through past generations of rappers from Big Boi & Ludacris to T.I., Jeezy, Gucci Mane, & Flocka. What is it about Atlanta that has made it such a hip-hop capital?
FLWR CHYLD: There are so many ways to answer this question, but I think I’d have to start with saying its mainly due to soul music having its roots in the South. When I think about Atlanta and hip-hop, I automatically turn to OutKast (and of course Organized Noize) because they were and still are the embodiment of not only what Atlanta feels and sounds like, but also what Southern music feels like. It has real soul to it where you can feel the emotional undertones that date back to hundreds of years of slavery to Atlanta being the epicenter for the Civil Rights movement. All of those elements tie into what makes Atlanta what it is... and musicians from the South have a certain way of communicating their joy, pain, sorrow, and happiness through funk and soul. It’s unique how all of these artists combine those elements into something with real depth and taste to it. You won’t find that type of authenticity anywhere else. Hence why most up and coming Hip-Hop artists that are NOT from Atlanta sound like they are from Atlanta, haha. The sound of Atlanta or any other part of the South for that matter either directly or indirectly influences other Hip-Hop music. That’s why it’s maintained its reputation as the capitol.
RNGLDR: R&B stars from TLC & Ciara to Usher, Lloyd & CeeLo also call home to Atlanta. For which of the same reasons that Atlanta is a hip-hop mecca, is it also one for R&B? And what about the Atlanta R&B scene differentiates itself from Atlanta hip-hop?
FLWR CHYLD: I think Atlanta definitely had a crazy run in the 90s into the mid 2000s with R&B which was great for the city and music itself when we think about the impact it’s had throughout the years.... Although now, I feel like R&B artists from Atlanta don’t really capture the same emotion through writing or production that musicians from the past were able to. With artists like 6lack the landscape is changing and improving. But there are few and far between. The R&B scene doesn’t really have much of a distinct sound now like it used to…. The R&B that comes out now has heavy trap elements which is okay...but I definitely feel like in order for it to return to that status of being a “mecca” the bar has to be set higher. Personally, I’m very optimistic because there are a lot of talented people here with potential. It’s just about making sure there is a foundation for those artists to be discovered on a bigger level. I wanna help cultivate that scene for people as I continue to build a bigger name for myself.
RNGLDR: Which Atlanta R&B artists of the past have been most instrumental in influencing your sound? And in what ways do you think listeners can hear their sound in yours?
FLWR CHYLD: I’d honestly have to say that out of all the artists that are from Atlanta, OutKast (a hip-hop duo) has had the biggest influence on my sound. I think that answer is mainly predicated on how they were determined to be themselves unapologetically through music.
RNGLDR: And which artist of the past or present outside of your home city has been the biggest influence for you as a musician?
FLWR CHYLD: There are too many to name but I gotta say ERYKAH MF BADU. I could go on for days about how her music really got me to where I am and my perspective on molding a sound into something that’s memorable (especially on an emotional level). She was always a model for me as far as “What kind of impact do you want to have when you’re speaking to people through your music?” She’s just done it so effortlessly throughout the years and I’m truly grateful for her existence.
RNGLDR: It seems like with younger generations of Atlanta musicians and really with musicians all over, a wider range of musicality extending outside of hip-hop, R&B, and other traditional lanes, and in new directions and transcendent grey areas are being explored. As a young artist creating across lanes that could not be defined by the labels of traditional genre, what is it about the modern scene that allows for such boundless, wide-ranging musicality from a single source?
FLWR CHYLD: I think that comes from having access to different kinds of music like never before. Streaming has really changed the landscape of the music industry to the point where you can access damn near any song or album you wanna hear.... Granted, there are some evils to it that I won’t get into... but nonetheless, the fact that you’re able to discover new people at the rate that you can is pretty amazing. I’ve had some of my best collabs from people who I was genuinely a fan of. That came from discovering new artists in suggestions, to related artists on Spotify, or even being referred to by someone who you know is a musician. I think my answer to that will always be unlimited access, haha.
RNGLDR: In modern Atlanta, from EARTHGANG and JID to 6LACK, Childish Gambino, Childish Major, and even Future, artists may rap, but they also sing; artists may sing, but they also rap and produce. There is no clear definition for any of these artists and no blueprint they have to follow. What does it say about Atlanta that its artists are so willing to take risks, and what more does it say that they’re so successful doing so?
FLWR CHYLD: I think it says that niggas are really talented and versatile. These are artists you could never box in because they aren't afraid to challenge themselves beyond what their “main” sound is. That’s what makes Atlanta special, artists don’t operate by the book or traditional ways. It’s music at the end of the day. If you have an idea, do whatever it is you need to do in order to execute it. And the main thing is that they do it with SOUL and real emotion. There isn’t a facade, that’s who they really are and that’s really where they come from. That’s one common identity that I think we all share.
RNGLDR: Obviously, there are still plenty of traits that draw the music of all these artists together; that draw your music together even if its sound can’t be boxed in by categorical reference of the past. So, if you could call your own style the name of a made-up genre, what would you call it? Why?
FLWR CHYLD: I hate labeling things BUT if I had to name it something, I’d probably just call it “some shit you can feel.” That’s what music is and should be at the end of the day.... It’s the most powerful thing on Earth. And the unique thing about it is while creating I’m going through a wide range of emotions... but once it’s out to the rest of the world I can’t tell the listener that they’re supposed to feel whatever emotion I felt while creating. I made it for anyone open enough to give it a listen, I just hope it made you feel something. It’s my job to create an experience, but it’s on the listener to make it unique and special to their existence.
RNGLDR: You spoke before on your roots with jazz music in mini documentary, “A Journey To” and you clearly utilize a lot of keys in your production. Does the improvisation of jazz lead a lot of your early ideas? And does the instrumentation of keys, bass, and even guitar in your music stem from your early connections with jazz, or is it sourced elsewhere?
FLWR CHYLD: Yeah definitely, It’s pretty much all rooted in jazz to be honest. All of my favorite genres have a direct influence from jazz so that’s where all of those ideas come from as far as chord progressions go. It has a trickle-down effect.... Once I have a chord progression that moves me emotionally, I go from there and start arranging whatever song it is I’m working on. If I think it calls for guitar, I’m more than likely gonna add it, haha. And I just pick my spots with what I think works and blends well.
RNGLDR: In “A Journey To” you also mention needing to ‘gun it and go for it now’ when speaking on taking advantage of creativity. Can you speak a little more to that?
FLWR CHYLD: There’s no reason to wait on an opportunity, just seize whatever it is you want now. That statement goes far beyond the realm of just creativity, haha. Take these risks while you’re young. I just hear way too many people who are far past their 20s saying “I wish I would’ve, could’ve, or should’ve done xyz…” It’s sad and I don’t want those who I know I can have an impact on to have any regrets in the long run.
RNGLDR: Reflections is a fitting debut project to display the creative breadth in your voice as a composer. There are pretty raw rap verses, a wavy instrumental interlude, and a pair of silky Neo-Soul collaborations: Succulent and Reflections. Was your intention with the project to exhibit your range as a producer, or did it just come together in a stylistically broad way?
FLWR CHYLD: That project was most definitely to showcase my versatility, haha. It had real emotion behind it but conceptually there wasn’t a whole lot to it.... I just wanted to put out good music that featured a few homies from Atlanta (with the exception of Devin Tracy). It’s actually wild to me that people listen to Reflections and for that I’m truly grateful.
RNGLDR: Succulent is a standout for a couple reasons. First, you would go on to collaborate with James Bambu again with River of Love. Second, it would go on to be played in a COLORS Studio performance. And third, it feels like the first track in your canon that really set a tone for where you would take your music in the releases to come. Can you speak a little to the single, what it means to you, and how it felt to see your work featured on an influential page like COLORS?
FLWR CHYLD: That track held a lot of emotional weight for me... like I produced and co-wrote that song in my dorm room. It’s pretty wild to see that song start off as an idea and ultimately reach the magnitude of a platform like COLORS. I remember being in music theory class and seeing the outpour of love from people on twitter and IG. It solidified that I was capable of having my music reach a massive audience and that was one of the first baby steps in me defining myself as a “producer-artist.” I learned a lot within that whole process and had to go through some pretty significant growing pains to get where I’m at, but overall grateful for that milestone.
RNGLDR: By the time Iridescent Luv was released last year, it seems as though you were able to really refine and focus your sound and energy into a cohesive, signature body of work. First, congratulations on its release. And second, how did the process of Iridescent Luv unfold? Did you produce all the tracks in sequence before sending out for features? Did you work with features track-by-track and then build out the collection? Or was it something else entirely?
FLWR CHYLD: I really appreciate that, haha. Iridescent Luv was really significant in the sense that it truly felt like my first-born child. That whole process was a wild ride in me wanting to really make a name for myself. In doing so, I had to take some risks as far as who I reached out to. I reached a “fuck it” mindset and started reaching out to established indie artists who I was already genuinely a fan of. It’s really true what they say about missing 100% of the shots you don’t take. I adopted that mindset and coupled it with not taking shit personal... and that’s how I went about scouting artists to hop on production that I had in mind for my project. That was by far THE most interesting creative process I had ever went through.... It was intense on all levels. I’d say constantly listening to songs that were already complete and revising those that weren’t is how I determined which songs would go where on the tracklist and also which beats I had to let go of because no one had hopped on them. All in all, I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world because there were so many character defining moments during the making of that EP. I learned a lot about myself, built some amazing friendships with incredibly talented people like James Tillman, Mia Gladstone, and Sugg Savage, and built stronger bonds with those that I knew before.
RNGLDR: You work with a lot of vocalists on the project ranging from established veterans like James Tillman to up-and-comers like Grimm Lynn and Nai Br.XX. What is it that you look for in a featuring vocalist?
FLWR CHYLD: I look for those who I know can execute the idea it is that I have in mind. I’m very anal about how I want things done because I wanna create timeless music... so I’m always looking for people with unique vocal textures that can help curate the sound I want.
RNGLDR: MIA GLADSTONE was both a feature on Iridescent Luv’s opener, Fly Me Away, and your new single, AuraBlu. What is your creative relationship like with her, and why do you think that your sounds are so conducive for working with one another?
FLWR CHYLD: MIA is fucking amazing... and I’m speaking from the standpoint of her just being one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. That’s why I’m grateful for her because its bigger than music with her. That deadass one of my close friends. I think everything I just said sets the foundation for creating beautiful music with her. She has such a light voice, but it’s so powerful and cuts through on any type of production I send her. She’s someone who I collab with frequently.... I definitely felt like having her on AuraBlu set the tone for how I want people to receive this body of work.
RNGLDR: AuraBlu – your first single since Iridescent Luv – also features Elujay, one of our favorite young vocalists anywhere throughout the floaty world of modern Neo-Soul. How was it opening for him on his Adojio tour last year in Atlanta, and is that how this collaboration came about?
FLWR CHYLD: That was a really great experience, I met members of his band who I’m really cool with now. We had this big ass jam session the night before the show with members from both of our bands just collaborating on this one track. Then the night of the show we had a pretty solid turnout with a lil kickback after the show at their Airbnb (dope ass experience). Aside from that, me and Elujay had known each other 6 months prior to me opening for him and we had talked about collaborating for quite some time.... It was just mainly an issue of timing. BUT the stars aligned, and we were able to get one out to the world haha.
RNGLDR: On the subject of live performance, we run a narrative series called Dream Venue taking the reader on a hypothetical journey culminating in the ultimate performance in the perfect venue. As a fan, if you could live your dream venue, how would your journey unfold, where would you end up, and who would you see performing at the end of it?
FLWR CHYLD: Only because I had class right next to it every day for 4 years, I’d have this show at The Tabernacle... which isn’t a HUGE venue, but I think that would make it unique for nostalgic purposes. This is gonna go off kilter a bit but as far as the show lineup, I might treat that venue like a festival and people could buy tickets for one night or a bundle for 3 nights... almost set up the same way Afro Punk has theirs set up. I’d break each night up into different genres, but some would be relative to each other. So, for instance, I’d have a hip hop/trap night (Thug, Future, Tyler, Isaiah), a jazz/neo soul night (Erykah, Glasper, Dwele), and one where there’s my favorite DJs performing (local and big names). I’m sure The Tabernacle would not work but we can all dream right, haha.
RNGLDR: And as the performing artist, what would be your Dream Venue?
FLWR CHYLD: Definitely The Tabernacle for my own nostalgic purposes. A lot of big indie artists tend to perform there, it’s really only right.
RNGLDR: We feel like your production style – defined by effervescent chords and bouncy, positivist color fits especially well with Elujay whose tracks usually find themselves with a similar sort of modern production and instrumentation. Do you have plans to work and release more music with Elujay in the future?
FLWR CHYLD: Oh, most definitely, quarantine has us busy and sending ideas back and forth that I’m actually really excited about because it’s a little left of what we’d normally create. Hopefully y’all will hear these ideas one day but I can’t make any guarantees, haha
RNGLDR: Speaking on collaborations, we run a series called Collab Elation exploring hypothetical collaborations that we want to see in the music industry. So, if you could collaborate with anyone I music past or present, who would you choose, and why?
FLWR CHYLD: I have a long list, so I'm just gonna start naming folks not specific to one genre
Tyler The Creator
RNGLDR: And removing yourself from the equation, who are two artists that you’d want to hear a joint track from? Why?
FLWR CHYLD: I would love to hear a full-length project with Pharrell and Tyler, The Creator. I personally feel like that would be one for the books.
RNGLDR: What’s next for Flwr Chyld?
FLWR CHYLD: Right now, I’m just wrapping up this next EP which has some very dope features I’m excited for you all to hear. It’s definitely my best body of work thus far. Only a few people know this, but I just recently got into DJing so that will be an extension of “Flwr Chyld.... All in all, I’m trying to stay creative and productive while challenging myself in new ways to give y’all the best music possible.