Exclusives Interviews 4 August 2022
Author: Vince

GRM Exclusive: Flo Talk Debut EP ‘The Lead’, State Of UK R&B & Plans For The Future

4 August 2022

Flo has emerged into the sound sphere with a refreshingly nostalgic yet current take on R&B music, and people are here for it. Their breakout banger “Cardboard Box” has amassed millions of streams and gained them fans from across the globe. To some, Flo’s success may seem overnight, but talking to the girls it is evident they have been working behind the scenes to develop and polish the girl band as we now know them. Flo are determined, tenacious and extremely passionate about what they do and it shows, not only in their work but in their general attitude. We sat down to find out who the girls are and what they have in store for us.

You have burst onto the scene with a really polished sound and branding, how long have you been developing Flo?

Jorja: “Around three years. Well, we’ve known each other for a while but we’ve been a group for three years.”

In terms of each of your individual musical backgrounds, where does your interest and passion for music come from?

Jorja: “It stems from our mums. They all brought us up on old-school R&B music. So that’s where we can kind of relate and have the same taste in music and sounds.”

So do you find that all your inspirations are similar?

Stella: “We definitely know a lot of the same songs. And I say on a whole yeah, but then obviously, underneath our main inspirations, we all have different but similar inspirations. But they all come under the same category.”

So for each of you, is this your first time in a group setting?

Renee: “It’s the first time for me and Stella.”

Jorja: “Before this group, I was in a different group with two other girls. So it was kind of like a similar vibe. But this group is on a completely different level from that last one. And I’m very happy with the decision I made to leave that one. Because… Yikes!”

It seems like there is a real good vibe between all of you, was that something that happened quite instantly? How was it when you first met each other?

Stella: “Well, our manager put us together. We did auditions in different groups. Me and Jorja were in a group with two other girls and Renee was in a group with two other girls. So it was kind of like matching girls up, and seeing what works.

“Me and Jorja worked well and just gravitated toward each other. Then we tried it with Renee and it just felt right. Me and Renee went to school together and we knew Jorja anyway through social media. So it just kind of felt like a happy coincidence and it just gelled well together.”

So for the two of you who haven’t been in a group before, in terms of integrating your styles as singers and learning harmonies and how to get your voices to blend together, has that part of the journey been difficult or has being in a group enhanced your creativity at all?

Renee: “I think it has definitely enhanced my journey as an artist. It is difficult, but like a good difficulty. This has been my proper first experience of learning to blend with other singers and the girls and learning harmonies and stuff. So it feels good to be able to do that now.”

Stella: “Being in a group is completely different from singing on your own. So it was definitely a new skill in a way. Although we used to sing at school with other people, this is definitely a new skill, but it’s good.”

So Jorja, we now know you were in another group before Flo, but have any of you dabbled in releasing solo music before?

Stella: “I did a couple of things in 2019 or 18. But yeah, this is my first proper experience.”

With there being three of you and different ideas, Starting from how do you come up with the idea then moving on to how do you all decide this is the version that we’re gonna go with?

Jorja: “I think we start off by bouncing ideas off each other, like how are you feeling today, if anyone has any standout topics that they want to talk about, it’s just like the first hour is really just having a catch-up and just talking about how you feel. And then we listen to beats –  depending on the producer that we work with, sometimes they’ll have beats that they’ve already been working on which they will play to us, or we worked with some producers who have instrumentalists, and we literally start something from scratch, you know, we might give them some reference tracks and things like that.

“So once you kind of have an idea where you’re going with the beat we start writing. I think we are coming out of the shy phase and we are starting to be a bit more confident and, like freestyling on the mic. But we start coming up with melodies, when we’ve done that a couple of times then we see if anything stands out. From that point, we start to put together a song with sounds, hums and mumbles.

“That then basically becomes the skeleton of your song, and then we start putting words to the melodies. But it’s never really like ‘it has to be that way or we have to do it this way’ because we’re still quite new. So you know, we’re still finding different ways that work for us. Also, when you work with different top liners they sometimes have their own methods. So we’re quite free and just like okay, cool, let’s go with that. We aren’t really set in our ways, because we’re still learning.” 

Now the project is amazing. Every single track has different merits. What was the process of creating a project like this and were you really super involved in like the track listing process?

Renee: “Well, it’s been a long process. A lot has gone into it, a lot of writing sessions, recording sessions and shoots and whatever else. But we’ve been lucky in that we’ve been able to take the creative reigns over Flo basically. So it’s been really good.”

Do you each have a favourite song from the project?

Jorja: “Mine is “Feature Me”. 

Stella: “Yeah, mine is “Feature Me.”

Renee: “I think mine is “Feature Me” as well!”

Jorja: “Feature Me” I would say the most nostalgic, R&B song on the EP… and that song, when we wrote it, we just like put our all into that song. I just can’t wait. I can’t wait for people to hear it!”

One of the things that is so great about your sound is that it has a lot of nostalgic feeling elements mixed with a lot of current elements. That traditional style has gained you great reviews and some comparisons. Is it pressure or are you taking that all in your stride and are you confident the music will live up to the expectations?

Stella: “We know we’re good. And we know that we need to work really hard. And that’s what we want to do. We want everything to be as good as it can possibly be. But we know we have it in us to really impress people.

Jorja: “I feel like there’s definitely a little bit of pressure when it comes to releasing R&B songs. Especially because R&B is kind of, not frowned upon, well it is by some people, especially when you’re with a label. They’re definitely hesitant when it comes to R&B. Just because you know, they want you to reach the biggest audience because obviously they want you to make the most money and it completely makes sense. But also we have to make music that’s kind of integral and authentic to us.

“So I felt anxious about our next single, not because it’s bad obviously. It’s just definitely in a different lane to “Cardboard Box”. But then also I see comments that are like, this is pop, this is so mainstream, so I definitely think people are excited for R&B stuff, which kind of makes me happy. But yeah, you just never know. You never know how people are going to perceive things, because how do you know what other people feel? There’s always a bit of anxiety. But I feel like if we push for something that we really want to happen if it doesn’t go right then at least we decided and we went with what we wanted. And I think that’s what we will always do.”

Do you feel like perhaps you’ll do better in other countries outside the UK, or are you quite confident that you may be able to convert the UK audience to this sound?

Jorja: “I think there’s definitely an opportunity to convert the UK Listeners, especially as a group. It would kind of be different if we were solo artists doing R&B, but as a girl group that’s such a big thing. So if we were to become a big UK girl group, we will just take everyone along our journey and expose them to sounds that they didn’t necessarily think they would enjoy, but they would enjoy in the end.” 

Okay so in terms of group Dynamics is there a best and worst thing about being in a group?

Renee: “I think the best thing is that we’re going into the industry together, I imagine going into this industry by yourself! Very scary.” 

Stella: “Also it’s good to have other people to bounce off ideas and stuff. And it’s a tough thing to go into something on your own anyway. But I think this industry is very…”

Jorja: “Mean!”

Stella: “Yeah, so it’s good to have two people with you.” 

Jorja: “We can definitely agree that the worst thing is picking a picture.”

Stella: “Oh My God!” 

Jorja: “We need to get into Photoshop because it’s actually like stitching faces from different pictures into one.” 

Picking pictures with your friends is hard enough, let alone an official artwork picture. Are you all happy with all your current images?

Renee: “I am.” 

Jorja: “Like, they could be better. But I also think that we were giving ourselves room to grow. It’s only gonna get better from here. Also, I think when we’re in the position that we’re in, we’re able to make you know, not demands necessarily, but we’re able to push back on things.

“The artwork for “Cardboard Box” was just like a picture we took on the set of the music video. I didn’t even realise it had been taken, I cannot remember. But I think in the future, we’ve got a press shoot for the cover of the EP. So you know, like, as you kind of get bigger in your progress, there’s definitely, you know, more shoots, that more money and time are being put into things like that is only going to get better.”

Now, obviously, you’ve been in development and that looks very different to releasing. So how much has life changed since you first dropped and how are you adjusting to it?

Stella: “I feel like the biggest change has been in like the last month really. Because we all sang anyway before, and we kind of knew we wanted to do it. And then for the last like two/three years, we’ve just been in sessions and doing the same thing, just developing our sound working together. But recently, obviously with the song blowing up and people starting to be more aware of that. So that’s been new, but it’s been cool.

Jorja: “It feels more like a job now. Yeah, we can finally be like, Yeah, this is my job. Like I’m out every day of the week out of the house. Like you can’t tell me anything. You can’t tell me that I sit at home and do nothing because I don’t, I’m working.”

Are you allowed to talk about any future plans you have coming up, can we expect any shows or festival appearances?

Jorja: “I mean, not really, we haven’t really got into that, like, we’re still doing loads of press and talking to different people now, telling people more about Flo. Obviously, we’re rehearsing lots to prepare ourselves for when we start doing live stuff. And I guess also, we’re going to be releasing music over the summer as well. I think after summer ends, or when we go into the next academic year. It’s gonna be crazy, things are gonna really pick up.”

Do you have a dream collab?

Renee: “I think we can all agree that we would love to collaborate with Doja Cat. I think that’d be so iconic.”

Stella: “Aside from that it would be like our idols.”

Jorja: “Yeah we really need to go to America. A lot of our inspirations in terms of production and then obviously all your R&B icons, like Brandy, Faith Evans and Oh My God I was going to say Whitney Houston…R.I.P”

Is America a goal for you guys at all?

Stella: “We can’t wait to go to America because a lot of the music that we’ve grown up on is old-school American R&B. That’s why people are like, they’re British? Sometimes I feel like. Oh, my God, do we think we’re American?”

Renee: “Not entirely, but that’s where all the sick stuff that we listen to is.”

Jorja: “And they appreciate us over there.”

Stella: “Yeah a lot of people in America really like us and that’s a very heartwarming feeling.”

Now, I know you all obviously have lots of R&B inspirations. But what’s something that people will be surprised to know you listened to?

Jorja: “I love Justin Bieber, I don’t know if that’s a surprise but it’s kind of like a guilty pleasure.”

Stella: “This is really random, but I listen to too much Drill.” 

Renee: “I don’t know, it’s not really surprising because I’m African, but I love Afro-Beats.”

Okay, so a nice variety. On the subject of Drill are you guys into the fusion of R&B and drill that is becoming quite popular?

Stella: We tried a couple of R’n’Drill tunes. I think for it to be sick. It has to be SO  sick. Yeah, But it’s fun to try. It’s fun to do.”

Renee: “It’s not off the table completely either, it’s not like we would never do a R’n’Drill track, if it’s a sick song, It’s a sick song.” 

Stream The Lead below right now! Keep it locked on GRM Daily for all the latest news and developments.