Unlikely combinations are the name of the game when it comes to folk-pop band Florist. From their origins to their songs, a variety of sources inspire the collective, made up of Emily Sprague, Rick Spataro, Jonnie Baker and Felix Walworth.
Sprague cites a traumatic event as the source of inspiration for their 2016 album, The Birds Outside Sang, which explores themes of both pain and happiness. The band is currently on tour for this release, and will stop at Culture Clash Records in Toledo for an intimate, in-store performance.
Country life, city life
Growing up in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, Sprague began making music in her early teens. There, she says natural surroundings, “Woodstock and folk music” inspired her. After meeting Spataro, Baker, and Walworth, the group eventually found themselves situated in Brooklyn, where Florist came together as a band and began putting out music.
“Moving to Brooklyn changed my influences… I kept that nature inspiration and a lot of the laid-back, mellow folk stuff [from home], but I took on a lot of new inspiration… from culture and fashion… city stuff,” said Sprague. “I think it’s starting to meld together a bit.”
The classic folk elements that Sprague cites are heard in Florist’s music through combination with more experimental, modern sounds.
Ups and downs
Balancing an otherwise dreamy pop sound, Sprague, the band’s songwriter, creates intensely emotional lyrics often rooted in feelings that the band wants to recreate through music. The songs on the newly-released The Birds Outside Sang are no exception: the emotional theme of the album came from Sprague’s February 2014 near death experience, where she was involved in a hit-and-run accident while bicycling that left her seriously injured.
It was inspired by…realizing all of the complicated things you think about when something like that happens to you and you’re faced with sort of valuing your life,” said Sprague.
She wrote most of the album during her convalescence from her accident. The emotional range of the album matches what she felt during those months of healing: anger, depression, confusion, reconciliation, joy.
“The album is about being like, this is really great, I’m happy,” explained Sprague. “There’s a lot of sadness, but you’re still okay.”
From solitude to synergy
When the four started Florist, the group spent time creating and playing music together, without much of a focus on performing. Before this, music started was a relatively solitary process for Sprague, who began creating and recording music by herself while in her teens.
“I always just wrote songs and few people would hear them. I knew that what I was doing with music was emotional, and that was really the core of it, but I never had a big enough audience to really see how that affected people,” said Sprague.
Since the band has gained more recognition and expanded its audience, Sprague has received emails from fans telling her that her music changed their lives. The idea that Florist’s music could touch on emotions that the audience relates to and interacts with is a big part of making music for Sprague.
“I’m starting to realize that for me, that’s the most important thing. That makes me so happy,” said Sprague, “That’s the only thing that I want.”
Local favorites, Good Personalities, will open for Florist.
Donations encouraged. BYOB.
8pm, Friday, May 27.
Culture Clash Records, 4020 Secor Rd. | 419-536-5683 | Thecultureclash.com