Members of the rising indie-pop band Flor grew up in Hood River before eventually moving to Los Angeles and signing with Fueled By Ramen, a record label that is also home to artists such as Paramore, Twenty One Pilots, and The Front Bottoms.
Just how did Flor get from their small hometown to being heard on the airwaves?
Vocalist Zach Grace, bassist Dylan Bauld, and guitarist McKinley Kitts attended all of elementary, middle, and high school together in Hood River.
“Zach had a band when he was like 12 years old, and was kind of always playing,” said Kitts. “Dylan was our prodigy guitar player. He was just insanely good, and he got into producing pretty early on using Logic and GarageBand on his MacBook.”
Kitts picked up playing music a little later than Grace and Bauld, but the three of them working together, later adding drummer Kyle Hill to the mix, made for a band that could lift the talents of its individuals higher through collaboration.
Bauld’s knack for production quickly grew better and better, and became Flor’s secret weapon.
“A lot of garage bands write songs, play them at a bar and then that’s that,” Kitts explained.“We had this edge and we had this ability to record 25 songs without spending a lot of money and kind of choose the best ones.”
As is the case for most artists, it took many years of writing, recording, releasing music, and playing local shows, in their case in Portland, before Flor started to gain traction. “We were doing the whole bar circuit when we were like 16, 17,” said Kitts. “In high school, my dad would take us to shows and he’d have to walk us to and from the stage because we were underage, and couldn’t be in the bar.”
After finishing high school, Flor hit the road. They made friends with performers along the way who were on the same path, or a little farther along, and many of them were from Los Angeles. After many writing trips to LA and touring for awhile, and after the musicians turned 21, Flor relocated from Hood River to LA to be more immersed in this bigger community in which they were growing.
From there, the band built their team. They independently released some of their first singles through online music blogs while they kept persistently touring – their first tour being with indie bands Coin and Colony House. At some point in that time period, their music reached the ears of record labels, including Fueled By Ramen.
“(Fueled) came to a couple shows I think to make sure that we weren’t totally awful, and then we signed with them,” said Kitts. “It’s been like two years now, actually. We just took a year from when we signed to release our first song.”
Flor gained a lot of new fans when they opened for Halsey’s 2015 “Badlands” tour, which came as a result of a newfound friendship and being under the same management at the time. “Dylan, our bass player, had produced a lot of music for Halsey. He did a lot of the vocals for her “Badlands” record, and he co-wrote her song “Colors,” said Kitts.
Following the Halsey tour, Flor took some time to finish preparing their spectacular debut album, “come out. you’re hiding.” The band worked, and continue to work with their label, booking agent Ryan Soroka, and manager Chris Georggin to figure out their best next steps.
“We’re so fortunate,” said Kitts about Flor’s team. “Our manager Chris was in Mexico the last few days, and we were still texting all day, everyday. He was on the beach and we were just talking ideas,” he said.
“come out. you’re hiding” may be an album, but for Flor it’s more of an era. The songs on it are a combination of a lot of the first songs Flor released on EPs, some new material, and now, with the brand new deluxe edition of the record, fans can hear a glimpse into the group’s future.
The band is constantly writing and has plenty more songs ready to go, but they just aren’t quite to the end of this album’s chapter. “The record came out, did okay, and then it built and built and built, so every month since the record came out it’s just gotten bigger,” said Kitts. When Flor were in Denver on tour with Atlas Genius last year, they stopped by a studio to record vocals for “rely,” one of the deluxe edition songs. They had extra time, so they went into the rehearsal space to jam, and ended up building out the instrumental for “no more time,” another one of the new songs, within 15 minutes, and recorded it within a few hours.
“It was really organic, and normally we do stuff at home, in the home studio that Dylan and Zach live out of, but it was a very spontaneous, organic result,” said Kitts.
The final of the three new songs on the deluxe edition is “ocean” which was one of the tracks they had released independently through music blogs, but had become a fan favorite.
“We added new drums and guitars and kind of breathed new life into it, and put that on the deluxe,” Kitts explained.
With “co.yh” being finalized at a total of 13 tracks on the deluxe edition, Flor has put together a collection of music that illustrates where they’ve been and where they’re going. They’ve shown what they can do with keys and electronics, and they’re beginning to move those sounds onto their guitars. They’re finding new depth, pushing themselves creatively and continuing to mature, overall.
Expect to see Flor on the road a lot in 2018.
“We want to be playing shows, getting to know our fans and seeing who they are and why they love our music, and just expand this community that we’ve managed to build based around ‘come out. you’re hiding,’” Kitts said.