Flint Eastwood is one of the most exciting upcoming acts in the world of authentic pop music. Hailing from Detroit, MI, she is a badass, confident songstress intentionally creating community through her music with both collaborators and fans. Her 2015 EP ‘Small Victories’ is a masterfully crafted work of conscientious indie-pop that has set the stage for the greatness to come. We caught up with Flint Eastwood to discuss fashion, David Bowie, creating community, continuing her mother’s legacy and her favourite pop Artists of 2015.
AMBY: Hey hey! How are you today?
FE: I’m doing well.
AMBY: Okay first things first – I have to ask about the name. I have two F/E shirts that I wear often and I always get stopped so people can ask me what ‘Flint Eastwood’ is. It’s a great name. How did you choose it?
FE: Thank you! Well, it’s a combination of places I have lived and where I was living in at the time the band was created. “Flint” for Flint, Michigan – I actually wasn’t living in Flint but it still carried a lot of weight for me. I feel that Detroit and Flint have a lot of influence on each other. But back to the name – “East” is for East Detroit and “Wood” for Hollywood, where I was living at the inception of the band; all very important places that mean something to me.
AMBY: So you are from Detroit, which is such an awesome hotbed of music and arts right now – what’s the best part of living there?
FE: I really enjoy the diversity it offers. I feel like I could easily be on a bill with a metal band and a hip hop artist at the same time and no one would bat an eye – it’s not something that’s weird. It’s a very inspiring place to collaborate and create because everyone is down to do whatever, down to help each other out. It’s a very tight-knit city, while still remaining pretty big.
AMBY: You had a lot of collaborators on ‘Small Victories’ – RV Mendoza, Alex Kaye from Valley Hush, Nigel from Nigel & The Dropout – how did you all come together?
FE: From the time I first started writing music I’ve always been an artist that tries to get my friends involved as much as possible. I’ve always had an ‘open session’ rule for myself when it comes to creating. All of the artists that collaborated on ‘Small Victories’ came about through Assemble Sound, where I was recording at the time. All of those people either walked through, or I had heard their stuff through being at the studio during one of their sessions and the collaborations just naturally happened. I would need an extra melody and RV (Mendoza) would be there. I might need extra production and Nigel or Alex (Kaye) would be there. It was such a cool, organic process for creating a piece.
AMBY: I hear you absolutely love pop music
FE: I do!
AMBY: I do too; lately I love it so much. When people call it a ‘guilty pleasure’ I’m like ‘no, no. It’s just a pleasure.’
FE: Oh yea, oh yea for sure!
AMBY: Which pop artists did you enjoy most in 2015?
FE: Troye Sivan was my favourite; I just loved his whole record. He has a really good balance of pop sensibilities. He has really good melodies, great production and he sings about great subjects – he has a whole song about how he wants to just be with somebody, he doesn’t want to be romantic with them, he doesn’t want to have sex with them, he wants to just hang out with them and lay down with them. I think it’s beautiful. I think that’s a side of pop music that some people don’t consider when they say it’s a ‘guilty pleasure’. Pop music does possess a lot of depth, just as much depth as other genres; you just have to look for it. I really enjoyed CHVRCHES new record, and M ø, she’s was the best, all that shit she did with Diplo was just fucking incredible!
AMBY: It was such a good year for pop.
FE: Yea! I was talking to a friend about this the other night. In my opinion, since Lana Del Ray came out there has been this slow merging of pop music with indie music and when Lorde came out it all just starting meshing completely. I mean, Justin Bieber just came out with a fucking awesome album that Skrillex and Diplo helped on and it was just this awesome year for pop music; pop is becoming cool again, even though you and I both know it always was. I’m really excited to create even more pop music.
AMBY: You co-wrote ‘Monster’ with Antea Shelton who has contributed to songs by Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce & Mary J. Blige what was it like to combine your vision with the creative input of someone who worked with artists you respect and admire?
FE: Antea is like a diamond in the Detroit scene. We had no idea she existed until we saw this article about her doing song writing at a local college. We were like ‘holy shit, this person is in Detroit!’ We hit her up and she was totally down to work together. She and I are like the same person – it is awesome! Me, Antea and Seth (Anderson, producer and brother) would be in a writing session and Antea and I would go off on a tangent and talk for half an hour about a topic we’re both really passionate about and Seth would just zone out until we remembered we were in a writing session [laughs]. Antea is super professional and I learned so, so much from her. In anything I do, I always try and work with artists that are better than me so I can learn from them, which was the case this time around with Antea. She has contributed to top-tier music, she has worked with Beyonce and received Grammy nominations and yet she is still so humble and is willing to help us out even though we are still relatively small. It’s nice to be able to have that access and I think it speaks to the Detroit community overall that she is willing to invest in the up-and-comers. So we came to her with a song that was almost completely laid out but didn’t quite sound right. She switched the melodies around and we were like “oh my god, this is INCREDIBLE! How the fuck did you do that?!” She just that good; she can just come in and change stuff around and make it amazing. She is awesome.
AMBY: Small Victories chronicles your journey from dealing with your mother’s illness and eventually losing her to being able to channel your feelings into your creative process. Do you think putting out this record has helped you deal with your grief?
FE: Definitely. I think that as an artist you’re constantly teetering on this edge of “why do I do music” and “what am I doing this for” so I have to step back a lot and ask myself why I am doing things. It’s difficult being a musician; you have to be an entrepreneur, a designer, a videographer, a producer, a songwriter. Despite all the challenges, I can step back and look at everything and think ‘I want to make my mom proud; if she were still here I would want her to be happy.’ I want to continue on her legacy which was really making sure everyone felt comfortable and accepted. She wanted everyone to have a good life. You know, I will play shows and people will come up to me and say that ‘Small Victories’ has helped them with the passing of someone important to them and that is just the greatest thing to hear because that’s the whole reason I was doing it. People are afraid to be vulnerable and talk about things, so if I can inspire somebody to talk about their pain and the difficulties of losing someone then I’ve achieved my goal with ‘Small Victories.’
AMBY: So speaking a bit more about family, you work alongside your brother Seth who produces your albums with you, writes with you and also creates music himself as Sybling. He’s pretty badass. What is it like working so closely with your own sibling?
FE: It’s awesome. It’s one of those situations where you can cut out all of the bullshit because you can be 100% honest with your sibling – we can tell each other something sucks and no one takes offense because we’re family. We also have this understanding of being there for each other – we know we’re not going to rip each other off; we’re thinking of what’s best for each other because we are family. There is a certain amount of honesty and trust that comes from working with your sibling that’s really cool.
AMBY: Nice! And you guys are working on some new stuff, how’s that going?
FE: Yea! We’re always working on new stuff. We write all the time; as soon as ‘Small Victories’ was finished Seth was like “ok, what are we working on next?”
AMBY: What a great creative space to be in especially given the momentum coming off ‘Small Victories.’
FE: Yea, for sure. It was definitely a step up and something that couldn’t have happened without the people who surrounded the project and the people who listened to the project – people like you who write about it and tell others about it. We don’t have a label or some sort of larger entity pushing us forward – it is literally a group of us who are extremely passionate trying to make this happen. I’m very grateful for the people surrounding this project.
AMBY: You guys are awesome. Switching gears, we got some sad news today about David Bowie. I’m very touched to see all the moving tributes online and it really speaks to his musical legacy. Do you have a favourite Bowie album or memory?
FE: I came from a relatively strict household; I only listened to Christian music until I was 16. SO around that time I met some friends that introduced me to David Bowie – they were some of the most eccentric people I had ever met! One of the first tracks they played for me was ‘Space Oddity’ and we would just blast it from the speakers while driving around. I remember thinking ‘oh, THIS is what music is. This is what it’s supposed to be and what it’s supposed to feel like.’ It’s crazy – no one says anything bad about David Bowie. He is such a timeless artist who effects everyone regardless of how old they are and where they are at musically. He has put his stamp on music forever through his own work and also the people he’s influenced. Even the way he went out, with the release of his album, like everything he did, was beautiful. He was a very, very beautiful soul.
AMBY: You definitely have a great style – your signature hat of course, varsity jackets, long-sleeved tunics – these are all things I cannot see without thinking of you. Have you always had an interest in fashion?
FE: Oh, for sure. I’ve always been very interested in fashion and art in general. I feel that it is a way of expressing your inner self; every human being is an art piece and you can dress that art piece any way you want. I like to be very intentional in the way I present myself.
AMBY: Last time you were in Toronto was this past May, with The Orwells, Is there any chance of us seeing you back in our neck of the woods anytime soon?
FE: I’m hoping to get there sometime this spring – there are talks!
AMBY: And finally, what is something about Flint Eastwood that your fans don’t know yet?
FE: Ooooooh, damn! That’s a tough one because I’m pretty open. One thing some may not know is that I drink a cappuccino every single morning; they are my signature drink, I love them more than anything and if I could only drink cappuccinos and not water without becoming dehydrated then I would do that. Right now I am on a quest with one of my roommates to find the best cappuccino in Detroit. I’m a little biased, but I do think that Red Hook, in West Village, is going to take the title. Sometimes they have banana bread from Pinwheel Bakery and my favourite thing in all of Detroit is that cappuccino-banana bread combination.
Thank you Flint Eastwood, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Heather Cook | @Outroupistache1