Scandinavian duo Flora Cash talk us through their upcoming debut album Nothing Lasts Forever (And It's Fine), out tomorrow.
The pair met on SoundCloud in 2012, and their relationship - both literal and musical - sprang from there. This track by track interpretation of their debut full-length record was written by Cole Randall, with discussion from partner and bandmate Shpresa Lleshaj-Randall. It comes accompanied by an exclusive video from the duo, in which they share unreleased lyrics, alongside additional insight into the album and world of Flora Cash.
We started on the track that would become "California" after we got back from a trip we took to LA in early 2016. This one actually started more as a vibe than a song. It had this longing, empty feeling that, at that time, we associated with the way we felt coming back from the sun and vibrancy of California to the still, dark, and cold Stockholm days. For us it felt like a juxtaposition of California and Stockholm. Eventually the lyrics and message took on a life of their own and the entire thing evolved into something a bit different – but we knew from the beginning that this track had to be "California".
"You’re Somebody Else" came to us one night while we were staying at Shpresa’s sister’s apartment in Stockholm. She and her fiancé had gone on a trip to New York, and asked if we would like to stay at their place for a change of scenery. One thing that runs throughout this album (from one perspective) is a theme of modern anxiety (whatever that means for each of us). This track really touches on that.
“You look like yourself but you’re somebody else / Only it ain’t on the surface. / You talk like yourself… No. I hear someone else though / Now you’re making me nervous.” When that lyric actually came out of the ether, it was more a matter of one speaking to oneself rather than to another person. Sometimes when we’re dealing with psychological issues, we literally feel displaced internally; alien to ourselves. This song ended up taking on multiple meanings and perspectives but the root of it at the beginning was as a sort of self-talk, self-therapy.
This track is one of the last tracks to be added to the album; it’s the song we wrote most recently. Initially we had a different song that we wanted to place on the album but we weren’t 100% happy with it. There was just something missing. We were up late one night, listening to that original track and trying to come up with some ideas to finish it. All of a sudden, Shpresa came up with an idea, which became the chorus for "We Will Never Be This Young". We thought, "wow, that’s a great idea, but it’s basically a different song." So then we just took the chord progression and this new chorus-thing and started approaching this new song. We wrote the verses that same night and ended up writing the pre-chorus while we were recording the track a few days later.
We wrote this song early this past summer. It started with a chord progression on an electric piano and a simple beat. I was working on the instrumental when Shpresa overheard it. She was in the kitchen making herself a snack and began free-styling over the track. I think within about 2 minutes she had spontaneously come up with the chorus. It described how she was feeling that day.
Later on, when we sat down and wrote the verses together, we wanted the song to be an honest reflection of moments in our own relationship. For instance, in verse two, when we’re singing, “Look at all the memories we share / All the fights here and there / Running barefoot through the street you’re chasing me / I chase you back and then we’re free,” we’re actually reflecting on a fight we had where one of us stormed out of the apartment without shoes on and the other quickly followed, trying to catch up and continue the argument. In all though, the message of the song and the album is one of optimism and an enthusiastic acceptance of the changing nature of things.
This track came at a dark time for us both and acted as therapy for us. I was going through a pretty severe stage of just generalized anxiety and it was putting a lot stress and burden on Shpresa. She was the greatest support system in the world but obviously that took a toll on her as well. It’s hard not to develop some kind of anxiety yourself when you’re spending so much time with someone who is dealing with that. This song ended up becoming a conversation between the two of us.
This was one of the first songs that we wrote for this album, and it really set the tone for the whole release. We wanted the album, like this song – to be both intimate and spacious, fragile and epic. There are other threads and different ideas running throughout the album, but this track is something of a keynote. It touches on individuality, struggling to make a distinctive mark upon the world and the ways in which that struggle affects each of us.
This is one of the songs on the album that we’re most emotionally invested in. My grandma Peggy, to whom Shpresa was also very close, passed away unexpectedly this past December. The core of this song had already been developed, but her passing gave us a new and more heart-wrenching perspective on it. I think of it as a song for her even if it’s also a song for anyone. It’s a work very much concerned with the human condition. It touches on truth, living for the moment, and not taking anyone or anything for granted.
For Shpresa, "When Pleasure Fails," is really about relationships that teeter and totter and ultimately become too much of a burden. At some point, you’ve had enough and just give up. It’s about coming out of that relationship that failed with a lot more knowledge, and learning from it.
For me, I see the song as a more general statement about decadence and the way in which our contemporary, materialist culture drives us to seek fulfillment exclusively in external pleasures. When we seek fulfillment entirely by those means, there are often grave consequences for living that way. Then we learn that there is more to life than what is immediately satisfying. There are spiritual values that we need to cultivate.
This was probably the second song that made it to the album after "Roses On Your Dress". Once again it touches on contemporary society as we see it. One of the big themes is the need that seems to pop up again and again in the collective human experience for a strong leader to come and save the day; that seeking for a hero or a saviour to relieve us of the burden to fix anything ourselves either as individuals or through compromise with others - “There’s no white horse coming, with his guns drawn and his, with his leaves on.” It also goes into the contradictory needs and desires we feel as human beings living in the modern world and the tension that creates for us. “All I’ve ever wanted… was a simple life full of complications. / All I’ve ever wanted… was an easy love full of tough relations.” We want to have our cake and eat it too; we want to be lazy but we also want success and power. We’re driven in so many directions at once.
This is the closer to and arguably the most lo-fi track on the album. We wanted this song to be very simple, very straightforward and quite raw; that vibe is a big part of why it was given the title "Mother To Child". The middle eight in this track is an idea that Shpresa came up with; something even less than a demo that we decided to keep. Most of the parts are one-take recordings and the structure is kept very down-to-earth. It’s about getting back to the basics and realising that one is never really struck or alone; there is always a potential for change; for rebirth.