Words by Keane Fletcher
Music, by definition, has always had the power to make people listen. Artists like Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye, and Buffalo Springfeild - to name only a few - knew that the quickest way to someone's brain was through their ears, and used their musical skills to create songs that not only banged, but helped to shine light on important issues as well. And now, Narrm-based future-funk artist Le Fleur is continuing this tradition with her latest track, 'Strange Moonlight'.
Political music in my opinion has the ability to really touch your soul and make you think. It just has this visceral reaction that I can’t really put into words, if you know you know.
Featuring the Le Fleur band (Bud Wilkins on guitar, Tobi Oladele on bass master, Zach Fitzpatrick percussion, and Taylor Jaques, Angela Gewargis and Alysha Maric on backing vocals) 'Strange Moonlight' is a piece of electric guitar driven funk that sounds simultaneously retro and futuristic, calling out issues like racism and police brutality without ever taking its eyes off the dance floor. The metaphorical dance floor that is, for while the country remains in lockdown, the prospect of hitting an actual dance floor feels like a pipe dream.
Still, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and Le Fleur is not letting this extra time in lockdown go to waste:
I’ve got a couple of singles in the work that should be ready soon to put out into the world which is really exciting...I’ve also recently launched a new event curation platform called Sugar Sweet Sounds. Its whole aim is to put on gigs that champion Black, POC, women and non-binary artists but we’ll need to get out of lockdown and suss out venue density limits before that can really kick into motion.
Until then, I'm afraid your lounge room will have to do.
We recently sat down with Le Fleur to talk all things music, inspo, and what being a musical activist means to her. Check it out below!
1- Where in the world are you based?
2- How would you describe your sound? Who are your musical influences?
My sound is future-funk/acid jazz. It’s designed to reflect the life I live, and the city I live in. I showcase that through fast tempos, jazz changes and smooth harmonies. Prince, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, Chic, Earth Wind and Fire, Sade, Chaka Khan & Rufus are my main influences - but there are really so many I could write a book, it’s hard to limit it to just a few!
3- Tell us a little bit about the Le Fleur band. How did you guys come together? Have you retained the same lineup through the years or do members rotate in and out?
Le Fleur is me haha, I’m Le Fleur and this project is my baby however in a live setting my band is just as important as me. Over the last few years the lineup has changed a fair few times as I’ve evolved with the style of music that we play, but the current lineup (which has come to be during COVID times) is absolutely on fire! My band members are Bud Wilkins (guitar shred lord and my usual co-writer), Tobi Oladele (bass master), Zach Fitzpatrick (groove maker) and my beautiful harmony section is Taylor Jaques, Angela Gewargis and Alysha Maric.
4- How does the creative process usually work for Le Fleur? How do you go about writing and developing a song? Is the whole band involved?
It really varies! A lot of our songs are co-written by myself and my guitarist Bud Wilkins as we have a very similar vision and musical taste. We usually write and then demo the songs with a pretty good idea of what we want it to sound like before taking it to the band. Sometimes the songs evolve further once we have everyone in a rehearsal room feeling it out. For example, we’ve been playing Southpaw pretty much exactly how we demoed it for the last couple of years but a couple of months ago my drummer Zach came up with this sick idea to do the bridge in half time and change a couple of other things around and it totally transformed the sound of the song in a really fresh new way which I love.
5- Not only are your songs full of mad grooves, there’s also a political edge to them as well. For example, your latest track, 'Strange Moonlight’ features lyrics about the ongoing issue of racism and police brutality in Australia. With this in mind, do you believe music can be a useful tool for shining a light on difficult topics? What can music accomplish that other mediums can't?
Hahaha, thank you! Yes, of course. Especially being a mixed race black woman when I write about these things, I’m speaking my truth and it needs to be said. Music is an incredibly powerful tool to unite people and get important messages across. Take for example Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’; political music in my opinion has the ability to really touch your soul and make you think. It just has this visceral reaction that I can’t really put into words, if you know you know.
6- A lot of artists are really suffering at the moment due to the pandemic and its ramifications. How has it affected you and your creativity?
Honestly, the only part of the pandemic that’s affected my creativity as such was when our government kind of just left creatives high and dry without financial support for a while there - when you can’t gig and can’t work how are we meant to pay our rent? I want to take a second to give Support Act a shout out - they saved my ass this pandemic with their MusicKeeper grants when nobody else was thinking of us. Apart from the financial stress that I know a lot of artists and creatives have dealt with recently, fortunately my creativity in lockdown has flourished as I’m trying to make the most of the extra time that I have. I’ve been writing a lot of new material and demoing new songs which is bringing a lot of joy into my life right now. I’ve also been using the time to look into different production techniques and methods that I’m interested in. That being said, not playing live shows is a bit of a spirit crusher, and sometimes it’s hard to picture the feeling of connecting with a crowd, which I can’t wait to feel again.
7- If you could change one thing about the current state of the music industry what would it be?
We need to see more Bla(c)k and brown artists everywhere, especially women and non-binary artists. We need our music to be spotlit as much as bands that have a lineup of 5 white guys from Brunswick that play mediocre indie-rock music. We are out here, we are talented and we deserve to be pushed in this industry and not only put on lineups to fill diversity quotas. That might sound harsh but I said what I said, if reading that upsets you please take a moment to unpack why exactly that upsets you.
8- What's next for Le Fleur?
It’s really hard to say in this current climate! I would love our next move to be touring Australia but that will have to be put on the back burner for now and something to look forward to in the hopefully nearish future. Otherwise, I’ve got a couple of singles in the work that should be ready soon to put out into the world which is really exciting. It’s been just over a year since I’ve released any new music so I'm really keen for people to hear some new stuff. I’ve also recently launched a new event curation platform called Sugar Sweet Sounds. Its whole aim is to put on gigs that champion Black, POC, women and non-binary artists but we’ll need to get out of lockdown and suss out venue density limits before that can really kick into motion.
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!