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.
By Your Name Here
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 to move there.
Great! But wait, 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 at your home studio as an audio engineer, mixing, recording and producing. What sort of bands do you usually work with?
Well, I’ve been living by doing music for a very long time now, usually working with underground bands and solo artists.
Tell to me about your recent nomination to the Latin Grammys, how did that happen?
I recently got the chance to mix the album for a well established artist, Salvador Sobral, that ended in me being nominated for best engineered album this year. It was a very different experience, to say the least.
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 that I´ve found Toflang everything has changed. I'm stepping up to the front and using all these 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. These songs have been alive for a long time now, we actually released versions of a few of them as an Ep and played them live as a duo at The New Colossus Festival during March of 2020, which garnered a great response, even being considered as one of the best acts by Paste Magazine.
“ ... it felt like the room was packed with tens of thousands rather than dozens. It’s hard not to imagine a band with this much gorgeous refinement getting scooped up by a big-name label.”
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.
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, just to find out in the end that 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 get to 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 these songs deserve a 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.
Can we expect some live shows soon? What are your plans for the release?
Yes! We are working on tour dates right now, starting with the US going back to The New Colossus Festival in 2022. Need to work out details with the label, but my initial idea is to release the album 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.
Thank you very much for chatting with us, really looking forward to the release of the album and catching you guys live soon!
Thank you for having me, I can´t wait for you to listen to the album, I´m hoping for a great review from you guys, and if you ever want that passport you know where to find me.