Interview: Flohi on releasing their debut single "Sunny Day" and more!

Interview by Yising Kao, Photos by Christian Edwards

Listen to Flohi here!


From Florida and Hawaii, Connor Brondes and Louis Solywoda are Flohi, a duo that expresses their outlook on life through their optimistic tunes. Playing the ukulele and guitar, Flohi bring a fresh and harmonious style to the table with their contagious energy. After playing some local shows in Hawaii and getting their name out, they recently released their first single, “Sunny Day” followed by their second single, “I’m Just A Lover,” both bright tunes that show off who they are as artists.

Congrats on releasing your first single, “Sunny Day!” What made you want to choose this specific song as your first release?

Connor: So right now, we’re releasing three songs this month and of the three songs, we chose “Sunny Day “ first because we felt like it kind of summed up what we we’re doing for the last couple of years and where we started as musicians playing together, the first thing we did was play the grad opening party for the Sunrise Shack. That was our first show like a couple weeks after we met each other. So, this song kind of holds that vibe of all the live performances that we’ve been playing on the North Shore of Oahu and just summarizes where we’ve come from so far.

How did you guys meet and form this duo?

Louis: So, we have mutual friends who own the Sunrise Shack. When I moved back home after working in New York in the modeling industry, I met Travis who is the middle child of the Smith family and we just all hung out. They always told me, “You remind me so much of our buddy Connor. You gotta meet him.” It took maybe a year and a half of being their friend to finally have Connor come into the picture where he visited Hawaii one time and their family convinced him to visit Oahu to stay with the Smith family and we connected then. We played songs with each other and went surfing. It was like an instant connection.

Connor: So, I'm actually staying in Louis’ room right now in Oahu. Right when we met, we sat on the floor and passed the guitar back and forth and played all of our original songs that we had written and it took hours. It was an arranged friendship that worked out really well.

“Sunny Day” has a ukulele style while “I'm Just A Lover” features more guitar. What influences your instrumentation choices?

Louis: I think the instruments influence the style of the song that we play. So like here, the ukulele sets the tone and what that tone pulls out of us is how the song goes. Our direction is really our self-expression and what we feel in a sound. For the guitar, there are these freestyles that we do and come up with licks, so we build the song around that because it’s something that we feel inside. It’s different for every musician of course like how to write songs, and our cultivation of that is that we release these songs together. Connor is working on his own songs and I'm working on my own songs, then we’re working on releasing songs together. And we’re learning so much through this process. I think Connor came up with the ukulele for “Sunny Day.”

Connor: I agree with Louis that the meaning of the song and the instruments kind of play off of each other. When we wrote sunny day, that’s bringing the whole vibe of us playing music in Hawaii on the North Shore – what’s more Hawaiian of an instrument than a ukulele?

Louis: It’s actually an instrument from Portugal.

Connor: Well, there you have it. So, I was listening to some music on the computer and I heard some ukulele part and I was trying to learn how to play it just by ear. I wasn’t playing it right but what I did do was “Oh, that sounded really cool” so I recorded it really quick and posted it on my Instagram. A lot of people really liked the sound, so I knew that it was time to take it further.

Can you tell me about your songwriting and production processes? Do you record at home or go to a studio?

Louis: So we’re in our room and just chilling and talking. And I’m like, “I had this idea.” [takes out guitar and plays a melody]. So we talk about where we can take that and think about the verses and come up with melodies that really work. We do freestyles where it’s this moment of letting go – that, I feel like is the most intuitive way for lyrics to come through and also the most intuitive way for creativity to lose handles and to let it be of the moment so that it turns into its own thing, instead of being like, “Well, technically we should have this many syllables in the next line,” constructive songs like that. We do a mix of both where we get as much done without the constructive flow but there are songs where we’re still piecing together where we like this one section an then we’re like “How does this make us feel and what can we bring forth to the table through this artistic expression?” Like, the ukulele brought out “Sunny Day.” With Connor’s songs too, he likes to bring out stories and stuff which is a deeper vibe, but for the sake of Flohi, I would say that we both carry these different elements for carrying the song through. If Connor wasn’t here none of these songs would go all the way through and if I wasn’t here, some of these licks wouldn’t be there as the creations. So we both carry these elements to pull the boat forward. It’s a good duo, but we’re also learning how to fill our own parts.

I think it’s really important to have spontaneous stuff in music ‘cause a lot of good songs come from that.

Connor: Yeah, I agree. I think that the freestyling is where a lot of the ideas come from. And Lou has helped me become a better freestyler. All in all, for the most part, we’ll just hit record on our phone and start singing whatever comes to us and not thinking about it too much and then listening to the recording afterwards. That’s when we get into that technical process and thinking, “Ok, what actually works and what doesn’t? This sounds really cool and this part could be a separate song.” From there, we learn how to play it, then go into the bedroom, and record it. We also have someone who does mixing and mastering, and he also does some drums, our friend Chris Denny who lives in Florida. Once we have our finished product, we’ll send it over to him and we’ll go back and forth a bunch. He really takes our home-done version and turns it into a real song that we can share with people.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Louis: I’d say Harry Belafonte, Bob Marley, and also modern stuff like Ziggy Alberts, Xavier Rudd, Jack Johnson. Their style of their music is really good but also their heart and what they believe in and their lifestyles, their integrity with their sound and what they do is so good. People who carry that, there's like a life behind the music that comes through, I feel like that’s what makes music really powerful. Like, Travis Scott’s music too, there's a lot of life in the performance and the cultivation and share of the stoke. I feel for us, we’re kind of in the grassroots of who we are and just understanding ourselves. The more we write and the more we do music, the more we find out more about ourselves so it’s like an autobiography of what our style is, what we’re standing for and it shows through our music.

Connor: In the last year or so, I would say Jack Johnson, the Tallest Man on Earth, the Lumineers, and Ziggy Alberts are my top four artists who have influenced the way I look at music and write.

I love how your music is full of positive vibes and it automatically puts me in a good mood, and I'm sure many others too. What inspired you to take this musical direction?

Connor: I think for us, music is more than just making songs for the sake of making songs. It’s a way that Louis and I really talk and really say how we feel about things or tell stories or just express ourselves. being able to put different sound and vibrations with words for us really sums up. Sometimes we have thoughts that can’t be explained through words. It’s essential for us and how we communicate a lot. We’ll sometimes be sitting there in a room of people with our guitars and everyone’s doing things. We’ll be having a conversation through a freestyle song with each other and everyone thinks, “Wow, that’s really good!” But we’re having a full on conversation about how we’re feeling and what we want to do, asking each other, “Do you want to go home or stay?” No one knows it, we’ve encoded it in the song, but we know exactly what we’re doing.

What upcoming projects can we look forward to?

Louis: We released our song called “I’m Just A Lover” and it’s a beautiful song because I was working with an independent company that wanted to help me out with writing music and stuff. But they didn’t really look at my ideas and just made their own stuff. I was writing music and they made the instrumental, but it was what they thought I’d be good at, like commercial music, a different style of music that I wanted to apply. As I was writing lyrics for it, I decided to make this random melody of “I'm Just A Lover” it stuck with me. It was just really ironic that I was in a place writing a song where I was expanding my creative sense, but deep down it felt like, “This isn’t really rad.” I didn't like it and I felt pushed into a direction for a song I didn't like and where I didn't like my vocals. So through it, I did my own thing and it cultivated to Connor and I finishing the song “I’m Just A Lover” we’ve also got more songs in the making, just these freestyles that we’re making into a more solidified jam; Really excited to share that. Sooner or later, we’ll hopefully be able to tour America or do something like that. We’ve been talking about that for a little while; we’ll see how that goes ‘cause I’m going to be a dad in December! It’s that balance, like you gotta make that music work but you also gotta be home helping out, so that’s a new chapter for me. Connor has lots to look forward to as well as we’re looking down the same vision and our own roads, so yeah, it’s pretty exciting.

Connor: We have these three songs that we’re releasing this month and we have another song coming in a couple of weeks on October 25th, I believe. That’ll be the last of these three songs and then I think we’re going to do some music videos that we’ll release next month for these songs. Then we’ll get on the same island and finish all the ideas that Lou was talking about and we hope to release an album sometime soon and go do some touring when of course, it’s safe in the world.

Rapid Fire Questions

Favorite spot to surf (in Hawaii and in the world)?

Connor: In Hawaii it’s Sunset Beach and in the world, it’s Keramas.

Louis: In Hawaii, Queen’s and in the world, Bingin.

Whats a song you wish you wrote?

Louis: I think “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queens.

Connor: “Laps Around The Sun” by Ziggy Alberts.

Louis: Actually, I feel like with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” nobody else could’ve written that, so I think “One Day” or “Let It Be.”

What’s one thing that makes you happy?

Connor: The ocean, surfing.

Louis: I would say just being content with myself and trusting the process of life.

"I'm Just A Lover" Lyric video