Enter into a Flostate: meet the new R&B duo that makes otherworldly tunes
Michael Le and Avery Florence discuss creating music without limitations
It's a phrase that you're probably used to hearing a lot: "being in the zone." Another way to describe that sensation, of being laser-focused, completely immersed in something and impervious to distraction, is flow state.
In many ways, this describes the way Toronto duo Flostate — a slight tweak on the term — operates. "That's how we make most of our music," says its production half, Michael Le. Whenever he and songwriter Avery Florence get together to purposefully make music, they fail to produce anything. Maybe it's the pressure of placing an intention and having to follow through. Instead, it's the "little jam sessions" in between that truly spark their creativity. As Florence explains, they have to really lose themselves in the moment in order to create something special.
While Le and Florence have been making music for three years now — the two first met by happenstance on Florence's last day attending Toronto's Harris Institute music school, which was also Le's first day on campus — Flostate is relatively new to the music scene, having just put out two singles so far. (In this episode of CBC Music's The Intro, Flostate is performing a new song titled "Human.") But those tracks, "Time" and "Home Ground," hint at a much larger sonic universe that Le and Florence can't wait to reveal more of.
"Time," Flostate's debut single that was released last May, starts off as a slow piano ballad but unfurls into a more R&B-driven groove as Florence pleads for her subject to "give me your time."
"Whenever we talk about time, it's like a concept or a theory," Le explains, of the lyrics and transforming time into a tangible object one values and entrusts to another person. Meanwhile, "Home Ground" leans more into electrosoul territory, pointing toward Le's solo work as an electronic artist. Chimes and horns adorn the track, lifting it and Florence's voice into a weightless suspension.
For Flostate, experimentation is key, and Le and Florence don't want any limitations. "I feel like what anchors everything is Avery's voice and her lyrics," Le argues. "For me, I'm always trying to blend things that wouldn't normally blend together," be it more acoustic moments or upbeat, dance flourishes.
This sense of having no boundaries is perhaps why Le and Florence call themselves a "fantasy R&B duo from space." Le says they're creating entire worlds within each song, hoping to transport listeners into a dream-like state while grounding them in real experiences and emotions. (A band both members look up to is Beach House, a duo Le and Florence recall seeing at Montreal's Osheaga Festival the night they landed on their band name; Florence likened Beach House's live show as "like you're in outer space.") It's a sonic manifestation of a flow state, where time and space are more malleable and less restrictive.
It's why Le and Florence haven't rushed Flostate; they want to let the music come to them and release their work only when it feels ready. Even in their writing process, the two will often have "deep talks for an hour before we do anything," Le says, with a laugh. "It gets us in the headspace, I guess."
Since COVID-19 halted many parts of the music industry, Le and Florence have found themselves stuck in another, more gruelling type of time suspension. "Avery and I actually haven't been together as frequently since the whole lockdown thing," Le says, noting a recent move as one of many factors for their lack of productivity during this time. "It's definitely been challenging."
"You forget to inspire yourself," Florence adds. "You almost forget to be present because you're focused on, 'How do I make this day better?' But what I found creative about it is just having a different type of time to spend. All that social time is gone, so it's like OK, now I'm listening to more podcasts or watching more movies."
Thankfully, Flostate is sitting on a number of songs that the duo's hoping to release in the coming months. In fact, Le and Florence admit that they already have "two halves" of an album complete, with one part being more "a blend between acoustic and electronic," and the other half "a bit more acoustic-based," as Le teases.
For Flostate, as long as time is on their side, they figured they can't lose. For listeners growing restless for more tunes, patience will soon be rewarded.