Corey Flood | photo by Marcus Maddox | courtesy of the artist
The interdependence of Corey Flood and their road to Heaven Or
Corey Flood’s first EP was self-described as “basement goth”: a dark, brooding rock record that nestled itself in the corners of the listener’s mind. Their debut full-length, out today on Fire Talks, follows along a similar path, but given the extra room to move around, the Philly-based trio (Ivy Gray-Klein on vocals and bass; Em Boltz on vocals and guitar; Juliette Rando on drums) take the time to explore a wider range of sounds and lend a depth to their lyrics.
With simple melodies repeated in each song, Hanging Garden can put the listener in a dream-like state and flow seamlessly from one song into another, but listen closer and you can hear ideas running throughout the album: an atmosphere of distrust, strained relationships, and recklessness versus caution. We discussed the long journey to putting together this album, and how they feel listening back to it now, via a video call. This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
The Key: Congratulations on your debut record. Can you tell me a little bit about how much of this was written, recorded or produced under quarantine?
Ivy Gray-Klein: None of it. It was recorded February of 2019. And then we hit a bunch of roadblocks with the production and PR side of stuff. So it got shelved for a little while. And then it was actually supposed to come out earlier in the spring [but] because of COVID, Fire Talk’s schedule got bumped. So it was just like a series, or like a snowball of delays. I’m just glad that it’s finally out because I feel like at least, like me personally, I was, getting so disheartened by the delays and just feeling like, I don’t even care, but now that it’s happening, I’m like, “Okay, actually, I do care about this thing that we all worked really hard on and collaborated on.” And I am proud of the final product. So I guess it’s good that it’s happening.
Juliette Rando: Yeah, just gonna say it’s really interesting to be like, revisiting this thing that we recorded in such a different time period and when we all had really different…relationships to the world, it’s weird to listen back and be like, “Wow, it was like such a relatively carefree time then.”
TK: So I was just watching the video for “Heaven Or” and I’m guessing that it was filmed under quarantine? Either that or it’s incredibly prescient. I counted two dogs I think in the video, whose dogs were they?
IGK: To confirm, yes, it was filmed under quarantine. We actually were going to film a video, like, the first week of March, and then COVID happened and then we were like, “Okay, well we’ll shelve that. And then we had to kind of think about like, “Now what are we going to do?” The small black dog is my dog Zelda.
Em Boltz: And then Roy, I think. Is Roy also in it? I already forget. I took some footage of Roy for it. But is Jasper in it?
JR: Jasper’s in it for like a split second. Like an oversized poodle. He’s featured eating popcorn.But Em also has a great dog in their house.
TK: So could you tell me a little bit about the chorus for that song that goes, “I know what I saw?”
IGK: Yeah, so, that song in particular… Oh, it feels weird to talk about because it’s like, so long ago now but, I just was dealing with a lot of feelings in personal relationships in my life. I felt like I was having a lot of instances where someone’s perception was completely different than my own. And so I often felt like I was constantly second guessing my own intuition, but I had to kind of come to a reckoning that like, no, I should trust my intuition, and it exists for a reason. And, you know, I am a capable person of interpreting situations. So just like that, a repetitive mantra of affirmation that my perception is accurate, and I can trust my memories.
TK: I think one of you mentioned earlier that there was an original idea for the video that got scrapped. Can you tell me what the original video was going to be before Coronavirus?
IGK: I don’t think we got that far. We were just going to meet up and, like, we were in the early planning stages, basically. And then this happened, so then we were like, “Okay, let’s put this on the back burner for a while.” So we hit up our friend, Casper, who’s a photographer and sort of jack-of-all-trades, and they were really great about collaborating with us.
We spend a lot of time as a band talking about what would be the most safe and ethical way to do this, because I think we’ve all been really hyper-conscious of being respectful of other people’s safety and also we didn’t want to shoot a video that would make it seem like we were being reckless or in turn, promoting recklessness you know? Because it was still really early on in COVID. So it took a lot, we just spent a lot of time talking about it as a band and then with Casper, about finding ways to do it that still felt fun and creative, but also wasn’t making anyone feel uncomfortable. Casper is really great to work with. Their, like, creative vision was definitely like a driving force in all of it
TK: I want to ask about a lyric on “Park Deli 7,” that goes, “Sometimes we make bad decisions just because we can.” Is there a specific instance that inspired this, or a time where this was something that you did? Make a bad decision just for the sake of it?
IGK: When I wrote that song, I was reflecting on a time where I had just had like a lot of big milestone shifts in my life and I was feeling very lost, and these things that had sort of informed my identity were no longer there. And so I was just feeling kind of numb and shut down from my connection with other people. And so, I would just make kind of out of character reckless choices just to try and you know, connect to something or feel something, and that’s kind of the headspace I was in at the time.
TK: I saw somewhere you were talking about the themes for this album, and you know, like ideas coming up like imposter syndrome, gaslighting, cyclical thoughts, or what are sometimes known as thought spirals, and I thought that that was dovetailing really well with the musicality of this album and that a lot of the songs have this kind of melody that cycles through several times throughout a single song. So maybe you guys could tell me about, and I know that this is reaching far back into the songwriting process, but how much of that did you guys discuss beforehand, these themes, and how much you kind of arose naturally while you guys were recording?
IGK: Well, I feel like we write the musical components first, generally, and then Em and I will sit with different rough recordings at practice and then come up with lyrics and phrasing. And so, I often don’t hear Em’s lyrics, for example, until it’s already part of the song. So it’s cool for me to, I feel like, it’s very organic in that way and it’s cool to see how certain concepts can come up like organically that we came up with individually but ultimately, like compliment one another.
EB: I guess it’s the type of thing where you kind of, for me anyway, I don’t want to speak for Ivy, but a lot of the lyrics that I have, come from poems, and maybe I’ll add a little bit as I create the song. But it almost feels like I subconsciously write these things and then as I’m looking back at them, I’m like “Oh yeah whoa, how didn’t I see that this is so clearly this situation in my life?” So there was a lot of that for me, I mean, I guess I have three songs and they very clearly represent a period of my life.
TK: What’s a “Slow Bleeder?”
IGK: Oh, it’s me. I have chronic anemia. I have for a really long time. The most recent time I went to donate blood, which was a few years ago now because I’m not really supposed to, but it took a long time for me to fill the bag and the nurse was like, “Oh, you’re a slow bleeder.” And I was like, that is such a bizarre thing to call someone. And it always stuck in my head as like, “slow bleeder?” I knew I wanted to incorporate that into something just for my own recollection.
TK: Ivy, I saw that your band Littler released a couple tracks from 2016, back in May of this year. Why was now a good time to release those tracks?
IGK: So, at the end of the summer in 2016, half of Littler, Madeleine and Dan, moved to LA. So we recorded these four, well, it was four songs total, right before they left. And two of them were released prior, and then we still had these two that we were sitting on for a really long time. And we were thinking about putting them out as, like, a split with a few different bands, but then it just kept getting delayed or postponed or whatever. And then I think Madeleine just reached a point where she was like, “You know, we should just put these out there and not just keep sitting on them.” So, I haven’t listened to them in a long time. So it was cool to to hear them again. I’m really happy with how everything worked out. Like, I think it all came together really well. But yeah, there were just some, I guess, post-production delays, you could say, that just sort of compounded on each other.
TK: Normally towards the end of an interview I would ask about plans for tours, which obviously isn’t a possibility right now. Do you guys have plans for virtual concerts?
IGK: Yeah, we’ve been asked to do a few virtual concerts, which is awesome. But we’re all quarantined separately, and we just haven’t been able to coordinate that in a way that felt comfortable or effective. So, we’re still kind of brainstorming if that’s something that we want to do. And if so, how we would do it? But we haven’t played together since, like, February.
JR: I was super sad because we had a date with like Palehound. I think that was supposed to be in March?
IGK: Yeah, in March.
JR: And they tried to reschedule it for September I think, but I feel like that’s like… [laughs]
IGK: Yeah, I don’t know. I hope it’ll happen at some point. But yeah, that was a bummer for sure. I mean, yeah, it’s very weird to release a record and then not play any shows. So, I don’t know. I feel like it’s something a lot of bands are dealing with, though. So it’s interesting to see how other artists are navigating that, because I think with our video, it was one of the first videos that was made during COVID. So we didn’t really have like, a blueprint of how other people were interpreting the challenge. And now I feel like there’s been so many more live things that it’s given us some more food for thought on like, A) if we want to do that and B) how we would do that. Because again, it circles back to that conversation of, we all want to feel comfortable, but then it’s also like, we want to be promoting something that is, you know, we don’t want to seem like we’re promoting reckless behavior or something.
JR: I haven’t even heard of any like, secret concerts happening or anything. I feel like some people have been doing, like didn’t Lauren [of Eleanor Two] do a live recording at the Magic Gardens? I feel like people are finding solutions.
IGK: Sometimes when people ask us to do these things, it’s like, well, all of our songs are really intricate and sort of equally dependent upon each of us. So you can’t really extract one, like, strain of it. It really works best as an ensemble. So I feel like that’s been the hardest part.
Corey Flood’s debut album Hanging Garden is out now on Fire Talk.