Flung is the moniker of multi-instrumentalist Janak JP, whose debut album Shaky But My Hair Is Grown showcases their aptitude for unique songcraft. Ambient recordings and unusual chord progressions play duets over hard hitting polyrhythms woven from glitchy samples and clipped loops. The album’s whimsical yet poignant songs venture in all directions, a scattering of textures laced together with some intangible thread. Finding cadence in assemblage, Flung never sits in one place for too long, instead inviting the listener to share in the joy of the unpredictable.
FFO: Nick Hakim, Boy Harsher, Crumb, Meshell Ndegeocello, Mothers, Cibo Matto, Jon Bap
How, where, and when did you begin this project? What would you consider the band's hometown?
I started this project in Oakland in April 2020 in a flurry of restlessness during the lockdown. I've spent my life making music in collaboration but this is pretty much the first time I was able to create something fully alone. I wrote and recorded the whole record in three weeks.
Who are your musical inspirations? Who has inspired you outside of and beyond music?
Musical inspirations: All over the place! I've studied Shona music from Zimbabwe for my whole life so that's been huge. Lots of older Brazilian music - Milton Nascimento, Novos Baianos, Joyce. Nick Hakim has been a huge inspiration for a long time. Minnie Riperton, Asha Puthli, and Kate Bush, for their grandness. Jessica Pratt’s music is so otherworldly and ethereal and I play it often as I’m falling asleep. L'Rain, Tatiana Heuman, Slauson Malone for the way they all use samples to create these oblique and hazy assemblages - sampling has become super central in my music and my life as a whole. Also this particular project got a push of electronic inspiration from touring with Boy Harsher and sharing a bill with Maral.
Beyond music, I'm really inspired by the work (much of which is very sonic) of a lot of Black radical poet-philosophers - Edouard Glissant, Fred Moten, Nathaniel Mackey, NourbeSe Phillip, to name a few. God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy has been a huge inspiration for my writing and thinking since I read it and it's set in the state in India that my family is from so it is extra close to my heart - I have my grandmother's old copy and the pages creak like it's alive. I watched Dominga Sotomayor's film "Too Late To Die Young" right before beginning the recording process and it lingered in my feelings for a long while.
How is sampling reflective of your personal philosophy?
I hear assemblages of stitched and manipulated samples as bringing many together as one, refusing the capitalist and white-supremacist insistence on individuality and instead casting the self as a collective and collaborative many. Sampling allows me to hold my influences legible and bring them into dynamic conversation, forging active collaboration with archives of the past and warping linear time. Sampling embraces anti-cohesion and messes with conventions: I hear it as a fundamentally queer practice, deeply tied to my experience of trans-ness. It is also a historically Black practice and a site of deep knowledge; to me as a non-Black person, the study and practice of sampling is an ongoing way of learning from, and standing in a position of adjacency with, the Black artists and thinkers who shape me.
Who is featured in your album art?
It's an old picture of my aunt and I. She passed away in February 2018. She lived in the East Bay and worked blocks from my current house; I feel her spirit around me!
Finally, what is the story behind Shaky But My Hair Is Grown?
It's so strange sitting with the fact that this project maybe only exists because of a deadly and devastating pandemic. I definitely feel guilt over that fact. But I also think that art-making can be a thing of hope and solace, a way of processing, all to say I think art is enduring…
I feel so grateful to have been able to throw myself into this project when I did. Quarantine had started about three weeks before. I was struggling to structure my days and find motivation in anything. I'd wanted to try and make a solo record for years but I kept putting it off - I think I was scared of really diving in. The few times I have started over the past ~8 years it tapered off and I've been unsatisfied with the results and unable to keep any sort of momentum up.
I had been working on the new Honey Oat record with my bandmate Gabe but it was so difficult to do over distance, and we have really different workflows. I work super fast and frenzied, Gabe is much slower and more measured. The distance between us (he's in LA) was tough, and I just realized I needed to create a different vessel for my hyperactive creative energy.
I cut up a bunch of samples on an Organelle I had just acquired - I landed on a lot of the samples through random luck in messing around. And then the next day I went to my studio and recorded a bunch of drum takes that I then chopped up and manipulated, slowing / speeding / otherwise warping them. I was feeling really inspired by dance and electronic music, from touring with Boy Harsher and sharing a bill with Maral and just some of the other stuff I was listening to. My previous attempts at making solo music had usually reached for a more explicit sentimentality which later sounded to me like sappiness so I decided to try and go in the other direction, creating music that made you want to move. That led to a bunch of new techniques for me: I quantized many of the drum parts which is something I haven't done before (in the past I've never recorded to a click / grid) and used midi programmed drums as well which was also pretty much a first. Ultimately, what came out wasn't much like the music that I was emulating / inspired by at the beginning of the process but I think starting that way pulled those influences through and landed the project in a sweet spot between a bunch of different stuff.
The whole process was such a flurry - I was working 8-10 hours every day, it was all I was thinking about. When I needed a break I'd take walks in my neighborhood and write lyrics in my head. I was working on all the songs at once so they go in a million different directions; the scattered-ness feels central to the record. It took some careful structuring to make it feel at all cohesive since there's so many tracks and such a range - I had the whole thing in what I thought was the final order but when I did my first full listen through I realized the energy was super off...I had to cycle through a bunch of different sequencings to figure out the one that beaded these songs together just right. I wasn't too interested in narrowing the sonic focus or trimming much - I wanted to let everything out and really respect the frenetic process that it was. This was truly like 8 years of pent up inspiration and energy manifest in 3 weeks. I also learned to trust my voice in the process - I've long been insecure about my singing and this is the first time I've really allowed myself to lean in.