Get to Know Toflang, a New World Where Music Becomes Collage
In this Rising interview, the boundary-breaking artist talks about Tony Flanger, why the pandemic helped mold the decision to bring these songs to life, and how they merge together in new album Flight Recorder.
So, first off, the word Toflang, does it have any meaning?
Toflang is actually not a real word, it’s a nation, a world created by Tony Flanger.
A nation, so how do you get there, can you live there?
Like Lennon said, It’s easy if you try. I can get you a passport if you want
But then, who is Tony Flanger, are you him?
It’s a long story, lets just say we’ve known each other for a very long time, we met at the right time and the right place, we’re both obsessed with doing collage, but he is the master.
You say you’re obsessed with doing collages, where does this fascination come from? How does it transfer to your music?
I’m a big fan of Max Ernst, he once said: Collage is the noble conquest of the irrational, the coupling of two realities,¨ and that is what I’ve always wanted to do, bring collage and music together. To me everything is a collage, I find that all I see and listen to around me is a juxtaposition of elements.
This is not your first project, I understand you work as mixer and producer, any band who you’ve really enjoyed working with recently?
Yes, I’ve been living by doing music for a very long time now, I usually work with underground bands and solo artists, but recently I got the chance to mix the album for a well established artist, Salvador Sobral, I really enjoyed the video for ¨Sangue Do Meu Sangue¨ that came out recently.
I see you don’t have a strong social media presence, is this something intentional?
Although I do love performing live in front of an audience, I’ve always enjoyed staying in the background while playing with other bands, but now I that I found Toflang everything changed. I'm stepping to the front and using all this means of communications to connect more than ever.
So you’ve decided to come forward, did the pandemic have anything to do with it?
Well it’s been a progressive change. This songs have been alive for a long time, we actually released versions of a few of them as an Ep and played them live at The New Colossus Festival during March of 2020.
It all started to be clear after the pandemic went full throttle though, after that even the logo seemed to be ahead of its time. I’m a huge fan of Neil Young, and he once said, sometimes “Something comes along and you have to jump on and do it. You can’t stop until it’s done” so I decided to listen.
You also released a single later that year, right? Is that song part of the new album?
Well, that is actually one of my favourite tracks, but it didn’t make it to the album, so I decided to at least let it have a life on its own as a single.
Can you tell us about the concept behind Flight Recorder ?
I feel it’s more a collage than a conceptual record, there are many stories that can be interpreted by experiencing it. The most obvious one tells the story of an emigrant and his voyage getting to a new land, with all the troubles and accidents it can involve, but in the end he just finds out every place is the same.
It's a long album, how does that work nowadays, it seems that more and more people are being driven to playlists and living on a song by song basis?
Well it’s a modular album, made up of four interchangeable parts. You can think of it as a playlist in itself, but I control the shuffle button.
People nowadays don’t seem to be buying many records, does this affect your plans for this album?
¨I like the challenge of merging art and commerce”, I think Madonna said that. I believe playing live and merchandise are the best ways to achieve this. Merchandise became a big part of this album early on, there are designs that stretch from your basic t-shirts to handmade one of a kind totems.
How did you choose which labels to get in touch with? Did you ever consider dropping the record without a label?
I’ve always believed this songs deserve massive reach, and this demands a lot of different resources at its disposal, some of which I don't have. So I just contacted labels that work with bands that I love, the ones that I thought would know what this album is worth.
What are your plans for the release, can we expect some live shows soon?
Yes! We are working on tour dates right now, across Europe and the US starting at the beginning of 2022. Need to work out details with the label, but my initial idea is to plan the release as four parts, spanning out through an entire year, but I’m very flexible, so there are other plans on the table right now.
What’s your live setup going to be like, will you be playing as a band? What can people expect to see?
We are getting ready for small and large venues, so depending on the context you may find yourself in front of a 4 piece band with visuals and mapping, or more of a simple duo setup.
What would be the audience of your dreams?
A shuffle of mindsets, the more variety the better, I just hope to find a collage of people.