Overnight success isn't something that comes to many, but when Dutch duo Feng Suave released the heady brilliance of "Sing Into the Floor" last year, things quickly started to take off.
Feng Suave are Daniel De Jong and Daniel Elvis Schoemaker and together they create expansive and intoxicating soundscapes that borrow snippets of '70s soul and psych but give it a sumptuously smooth 2018 makeover. At the end of last year, they caught people's attention with their infectious brand of absorbing soul and quickly racked up a ridiculous amount of streams, going from relative unknowns to exciting new prospect faster than they could have ever dreamed.
Their self-titled EP, which has just been re-released, sees the pair hopscotch across a dynamic range of intrepid genres, stomping with funky basslines whilst De Jong's vocals float heavenly above the old school production. There's an infectious quality to the EP that feels refreshingly genuine and basks in its simmering chilled-out vibes and it comes as absolutely no surprise that their first UK headline show in June has already sold out.
We caught up with the duo to talk about how touring gets romanticised, how they go about writing songs and how a bottle of Portuguese shampoo ended up inspiring their band name.
BEST FIT: How did Feng Suave first come into being - how did you meet and when did you start making music together?
Daniel Elvis Schoemaker: "We both (Daniel and Daniel) participated in a talent show, and we were stoked about each other's performance so we decided to hang out and jam. The first few times we jammed were absolutely fruitless, but we eventually became very close friends and started making and listening to music together heaps."
Feng Suave means ‘Smooth Wind’ - why did you think this was an appropriate name for your project?
"Well, we had this bottle of Portuguese shampoo in the shower called 'Ultra Suave'. The name 'Feng Suave' was inspired by this shampoo and thought up by our synth-guy and art-director Joris, as a pun to 'Feng Shui'. He actually first used this as his instagram name but before long we realised that it was the best band name available to us at the moment, so we went with it. No regrets. We only found out later that it was not only a funny name, but that it actually meant something that suits the music. Serendipity."
There are a whole load of influences floating through the music that you create, whether that be the psychedelic guitars, funk or the lo-fi undertones. What were you listening to when you were writing the EP?
"We were mostly listening to reggae music, 70's soul and more recent psych music. Classics like the Abyssinians, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, your good old Beatles, Black Uhuru or Nina Simone but also amazing contemporary artists like Mild High Club, King Gizzard or Timber Timbre. We weren't necessarily listening to one genre, but if there's one genre that dominated our playlists, it's reggae."
"Honey, There's No Time" is a super funky lo-fi tune. Can you tell me more about how that song first came about?
"Elvis wrote the main riff when he was 15 or something, so at least 6 years ago. The riff never progressed into an actual song until we started playing it together and added bass lines, vocal melodies, a bridge and keys. It's about being infatuated with somebody who's not your true lover, but that someone loves you anyways. Eventually you'll go insane because love can't be faked so you're going to have to walk away from that person - or make them run from you."
What does the songwriting process involve for you? What comes first - the lyrics or the music?
"There's no fixed order. Sometimes we start with a bass line and add chords, sometimes it's the other way around. Lyrics usually come last but not necessarily. We jot down anything that comes to mind when we're inspired, so we've got a tonne of potential lyrics that can be fitted to a melody. Sometimes a good chord progression results from messing around on a guitar or piano, and sometimes all you have to do is follow the voices in your head. That's usually where the best stuff comes from - spontaneous inspirations."
The end of 2017 was pretty crazy for you both, how did you feel about it?
"Well, comparatively it wasn't too crazy because we only played a handful of shows. But the fact that our EP got picked up online and that our audience is still growing organically is amazing. We released the songs with very little expectation and were just happy that we didn't have to work on the songs anymore. We would been happy with a few hundred streams. But then, a few days after 'Sink Into The Floor' dropped, we got 30,000 streams overnight when it was playlisted. It was unreal."
Did you feel any pressure after the initial success of the EP?
"Yeah, to some extent. It's something that you wish wasn't there but it creeps up on you anyways. You always want to outperform yourself, but it's entirely natural. We're still making music at the same pace, still taking our time, slow and steady wins the race. We also don't have to make that EP anymore - it's done for us. We're writing different songs now, we're creating different sounds and we're exploring new territory. I guess the only way to escape the pressure is to distance yourself from your previous work and try not to pay attention to what people are saying - only then you get to look ahead and find new inspirations - but that's easier said than done. We personally feel the new music we're working on is going to be better and more exciting than what we've done before, so we'll just have to rely on our own instincts for now."
What does success look like to you and what do you really want to achieve with your music?
"That's a difficult question. We've always romanticised the whole touring aspect of being a band. It always seemed like the ultimate freedom; to be able to play in front of different audiences in different cities in a foreign country every night. Touring, in reality, is actually pretty hectic. The dream is still there though, to go to every continent with our mates to perform. But primarily, we would like to just make a couple of albums, enjoy as many sunshine hours as possible and be able to sustain ourselves in the process. In the end, as an 'artist' (whatever that means), you just want to leave something behind and share your happiness and hardship with other people. Not unlike a caveman drawing a mammoth on the wall, really."
What comes next - what can we expect from you guys this year and will you be coming to the UK at any point?
"This year we're planning on releasing another EP at some point. We'll be playing our first ever UK headline show on 18 June in London at a sold-out Servants Jazz Quarters! We're beyond thrilled about it. When the next EP is done, we'll definitely be back, and perhaps even beforehand."