A glowing world of melancholy music
(Los Angeles) Flora Cash is a duo composed of Minnesotan Cole Randall and Swede Shpresa Lleshaj, now based in Stockholm, Sweden. In their latest album, Nothing Lasts Forever (And It’s Fine), they have distilled feelings from their own love story into notes, lyrics, and emotions that are an adventure into a misty world of melancholy without sadness. They met on Soundcloud in early 2012 and by the end of the year, they had released two EPs, Mighty Fine EP and Made It For You, and built a fanbase in Europe. The duo moved to Minneapolis in 2013, got married, moved back to Stockholm by way of LA to release I Will Be There and their latest album Nothing Lasts Forever (And It’s Fine). I am hooked on them and anyone who listens will be too. They are visiting LA right now and stopped by to talk.
Patrick. You released your new album Nothing Lasts Forever (And It’s Fine) last month in LA. Congratulations.
Cole. Thank you it was a great party. Wish you had been there.
Shpresa. Thank you so much.
Patrick. I think this is your best album so far. It sounds like a hit to me – did you have that same feeling when you were putting it together, that you might have a hit on your hands?
Shpresa. Well, yes. It is not like we are aiming to write hits. It just comes naturally – we just do what we do naturally.
Cole. We like to make music; that is first and foremost what we love to do, and is a form of therapy for us. And we want to make music that we really want to listen. There were definitely songs that we said have great potential.
Patrick. There are so many layers in your songs. Take the song “Sadness is Taking Over.” You begin with the lines: “When we were frozen you, you took the cold away./… when we were primal, love, you took the old away/And now we go to bed and then you turn away/ do you remember all we sacrificed?” You sound like you have grown old together, but you are too young for that?
Cole. You can interpret it literally, and it has a literal meaning and a lot of people can relate to that. But that song was written during a kind of stressful time between us while we were in Sweden and we were overwhelmed by a lot of things. There was a bit of strain on our relationship, which is otherwise really awesome, in those moments you do feel like that scenario you described. Right, Shpresa?
Shpresa. Yea. Totally. That’s right
Patrick. But, you end the song with some hope, so it is not a cold and stressful: “See life in the right light/ it’s a bright ride ain’t it baby? One time we were so high/ see the bright side won’t you, baby?”
Shpresa. Yes, totally. And it is an encouragement. It is always like a dialog between us.
Cole. At that time it was me stressing a bit more. A lot of stress input on the song – that bridge line is like her comforting me and trying to understand what I was going through at the time. We always want there to be a ray of optimism.
Patrick. I like to listen to your music on headphones because of the soundscapes that you create – some call it the views through a rainy window, others call it misty or frozen. What do you call it – what do you see when you put on headphones and listen to your music with your eyes closed?
Shpresa. Everywhere. I see everywhere.
Cole. For me personally – and maybe Shpresa too – I see an environment of fogginess and haze and a lack of clarity – not negative, but ambiguity. We like the mystery. We like soundscapes so that each song takes people somewhere.
Patrick. One song that I don’t listen to on headphones is “You’re Somebody Else.” The lines “Now you’re making me nervous / You look like yourself / But you’re somebody else /Only it ain’t on the surface” were my first focus. But on a second listen, the lines that popped out are “I saw the part of you that only when you’re older /You’ll see too, you’ll see too.” What is the genesis of that song – you are not old enough to see yourself as older, I don’t think.
Cole. The song was sparked by that period of sadness we talked about. We both wrote it together, but it was actually me talking to myself – I felt like I was not myself; I was projecting my normal self, but I did not feel my normal self. And I thought about Shpresa – “the part of you that you see only when you are older.” I think that sometimes we see things in ourselves and people that they don’t see – the seed that is going to bloom throughout a person’s life. I see little seeds of a personality — like in my siblings– you can see seeds in little children. Like I see a child as a grandfather someday…that may be the best part of people but they can’t see it themselves.
Patrick. Now I understand why you call your music therapy. This song was used in the soundtrack for a video by Save the Children in the Love Story Project. What is the project and how did you get involved?
Cole. We were approached by Save the Children in Mexico to do a campaign about the risk to children online. It was all volunteer – nobody got paid. When they told us the idea about the track, we thought “wow!” this is perfect. I have younger siblings and I have always been concerned about this. So we were overjoyed to be part of it.
Shpresa. Once we saw the video, we saw that it works so well. We were contacted by a project manager who was based in Denmark – that is how Save the Children Mexico found us in Stockholm.
Cole. We like to explore the dark side. You tend to write music in the dark moments. It is just interesting.
Shpresa. We are very much in love and it doesn’t hurt. Any relationship has its ups and downs. It just basically describes life.
Patrick. How do your live performances differ from the recording? Do you try to create those soundscapes?
Cole. We usually perform with a band. We do have a guy who operates things that emulate the recordings, but we adapt to the venue and settings. We don’t want the live performance to sound just like the recording.
Shpresa. Sometimes we just do the songs acoustic. I like that and we like to show we can do them acoustic.
Patrick. You have a song on the new album about California. You even sing “California sun running on the repeat/ California sun running on the repeat.” Do you ever think about coming here and living?
Shpresa. I think about it all the time, actually. Escape the cold.
Cole. Yes, it does cross our mind.
Patrick. Shpresa, there is a song on the album is titled “Mother and Child” that showcases the incredible power of your voice. When did you realize you had that kind of power in your voice?
Shpresa. I have been singing since I was a child but it was about 12 years old when I used to sing to Whitney Houston. After that I thought wow – this was something I should do.
Patrick. So you see yourself singing to your child in the future?
Shpresa. Absolutely! If I have a child. I will sing to it a lot
Cole. It will be a very lucky child.
Patrick. Shpresa and Cole, thank you so much.
Flora Cash. https://floracash.com/
Nothing Lasts Forever (And It’s Fine) released April 2017 is available on Amazon.com, iTunes and Spotify.