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In praise of bleeps, bloops
Source: inform.com
Posted on: April 8, 2008 09:16 MST
Filed under: Electronic

Flora

For electronic musician Rob Ross, also known as Flora, a solo life was the only way to go.

"I've actually thought many times, 'I wish I could clone myself,' " Ross says. "Have three or four of me that I can just completely agree with and make music with -- that'd be great."

As we sit in a south-side coffee shop, the Rolling Stones rocking quietly in the background, the 30-year-old Toronto native explains what drove him to abandon his former punk band for a life of bleeps and bloops.

"It's a sacrifice working with other people, especially when it comes to music," he adds, explaining that he started tinkering with old synthesizers and electronic toys six years ago after he fell in love with the signature sounds of Warp Records artists such as Boards of Canada.

"When there's a group of three or four people in a band that can actually put an album out that everyone likes and tour together, stuck in a van -- I mean, that's awesome, but I can't do that."

For Ross, who moved to Edmonton from Three Hills a year ago, playing electronic music on his own gave him a sense of control over his creative impulses, and those Warp influences have played an integral role in shaping his music.

Meshing the cold, ambient sprawl of glitchy electronica with organic touches of acoustic guitar and half-whispered vocals, Ross released his first EP, We All Lose, in 2006.

The mini-album was inspired by the death of his aunt, and We All Lose expressed Ross's concerns about life and the process of aging, as well as the nature of death and evolution.

It's a theme that still resonates with Ross today. Now that he's the father of an eight-month-old daughter, Sophie, the basic need to understand and express himself about the changes in his life remains the catalyst for some of his newer recordings, which should find their way onto a followup album to be released later this year.

One would think the introspective nature of Flora's electronic music

wouldn't lend itself well to live performances, but if Ross hasn't been as busy recording lately due to his daughter's arrival, he has still managed to find his way onto a number of concert billings over the past few months.

Ross admits performing his style of music live can be a bit of a challenge, but it's all about how you present yourself onstage.

"I can see their faces when you bring out your laptop and they're like, 'Oh, another guy behind a laptop pressing buttons,' " Ross laughs. " 'He could be bidding on a sweater on eBay for all I know.'

"I think it's condescending to sit there behind a laptop and force people to come to you. Musicians should be taking steps towards the audience so they can understand what they're doing. Musicians need to be giving, and so that's what I'm thinking about when I'm playing live."

Ross contends Flora's live sound tends to be a little grittier in order to be more involving for the crowd, a direction his new album will possibly follow. His live presentation has also benefited from collaborations with local visual artists, something he hopes to eventually repeat once he heads out on tour.

With Flora being a bit of a crossover between electronic and acoustic music, Ross admits finding himself wedged between a pop-rock act and banjo-based folk outfit at a concert isn't too uncommon or jarring.

"I think it does have something to do with Edmonton," Ross says, confessing his love for this city's unique musical diversity.

"When it comes to this type of electronic music, people seem to enjoy it, but they don't really know where to place it, especially on a bill."

fmarchand@thejournal.canwest.com

CONCERT PREVIEW

Flora

With: Tim Gilbertson and Joe Nolan

When: Saturday night at 8 (doors at 7:30)

Where: Jekyll and Hyde Pub & Restaurant, 10610 100th Ave.

Tickets: $10 at the door, all ages

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