The first few seconds of The Flavr Blue’s second full length record, Blue Dream, opens with a vocal sample that rises with every second. The reason for this is to bring each listener into The Flavr Blue’s own West Coast hip-hop-inspired fever dream.
The last time I spoke to The Flavr Blue, just over a year ago, I asked what was next for them. The electronic trio of Hollis Wong-Wear, Lace Cadence, and Parker Joe said that beyond their upcoming tour with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, they weren’t entirely sure.
In the year since, The Flavr Blue has created, recorded, and finished the summery soundscape that is Blue Dream. On the phone, the band explained that after the tour, they stopped playing shows and hunkered down in studios up and down the West Coast, but mainly in Los Angeles.
“We spent a lot of the winter and the spring months writing new music and recentering ourselves,” Wong-Wear said. “We [were] thinking about how our next album could both be a full circle towards the music that we love and is our foundation, which is hip hop, but also look ahead and create some music that we want to bump and listen to.”
The band explained that they had struggled in the past finding the exact genre they wanted to pursue, and instead of just choosing one, they’ve explored whatever was giving them inspiration at the time.
“We've always been on our own journey through things that inspired us and creating with that lens,” Joe said. “I think that kind of defines our planet a little bit, and explains why our music has meandered, from our perspective in a positive way, through different genres like through each of our EPs.”
Parker Joe said their first record, Pisces, was mainly dance inspired, their Bright Vices EP was more urban/electronic, and the Love Notes EP was the most R&B, before coming full circle to Blue Dream's hip-hop sound. They all agreed that Blue Dream is the most consistent statement they’ve made as a band due to its intense focus on West Coast hip-hop.
Blue Dream opens with “Top Down (feat. The Last Artful, Dodgr),” an airy and catchy ode to hanging out with their crew on a sweltering day. Wong-Wear’s pristine soprano vocals shine throughout the album, but especially on tracks like “Pocket” and “Picture Perfect.” Cadence and Joe’s production also shimmers, perfectly encapsulating the feeling of summer in the fourteen tracks.
They also tackle some of the past year’s defining themes on tracks like “Fetti and Spaghetti,” which formed in about 30 minutes after an all day recording session. It’s deep synth track that stays in line with their tropical theme, but Wong-Wear spits bars: “It’s 2017 and there’s Nazis in the White House/People wouldn’t listen now they’re quiet as a church mouse.”
“My Vice (feat. ymtk)” and “365 (feat. Jay Park and Cha Cha Malone),” are two of the record’s biggest bangers, two power pop tracks with a sweet R&B edge. The Flavr Blue said working with collaborators were some of their favorite moments of creating the record, adding that they were stoked to work with Seattle native Jay Park, a former member of the K-pop group 2PM.
The album’s list of collaborators was just one of the ways the group paid homage to the West Coast: it includes exclusively West Coast artists like Park, Cha Cha Malone from Seattle, The Last Artful, Dodgr from Portland, Sweater Beatz from LA, YMTK from LA by way of the Bay Area.
However, to get to the final tracks, The Flavr Blue started with over 80 production demos, which they managed to get to around 20. The band said that getting from 20 to 14 was the hardest part, but they decided to let the best songs present themselves, and then pick the ones that told their story the best.
"We really synced up on the same page in a way that we haven't done in the past," Joe said. "We took time to sit down, and we all vocalized what we were trying to do very clearly before we started this project, and I think it shines through in that way."
“The idea of Blue Dream is that it was a departure from your everyday,” Wong-Wear said at the end of the call, signifying the record’s ability to take the listener on a journey through their idea of a perfect West Coast day, dotted with slivers of sun with a slew of friends.