Flamingo Pier

Agent: Jonathan Mattson
Territory: North America
Label: Razor-N-Tape

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PRESS: Rolling Stone AU | KEXP | HHVMAG
Promoter Assets: HERE

Born and raised in New Zealand but schooled in London, Flamingo Pier may well be the southern hemisphere’s best kept secret. But with one album and some serious live playing under their tightly-worn belts, that may about to end, as they plot a course back towards Europe and beyond for summer 2024.

Flamingo Pier are Luke Walker (the DJ), Dom Jones and Brad Craig (the musical chops), a rather perfect combo that you can hear in their music, with its electronic heft weighted lightly with tropical sounds atop, influences pouring in from all directions: Masters At Work, Khruangbin, Prince, Ron Trent.

Shot through with sunshine and festival-friendly joy, their roots are in the somewhat more gritty environs of Hackney Wick, formerly a somewhat desolate spot in the East End of London that has been revived by a new generation of creatives (with a soupçon of aid from the London Olympics in 2012), among them Luke, Brad and Dom. “We were all living in this warehouse in Hackney Wick and started DJing with each other at home and playing music together,” says Luke. “Originally, Brad was over as part of another band who’d been brought over by a record label. But we had Counter Café as this incredible little spot on the canal there.”

They started throwing monthly Friday parties at the café. All the parties sold out. Suitably encouraged, they decided to throw a festival on the beautiful island of Waiheke, a 30minute scoot from Auckland, as you do. It was only one day, in an olive grove, but they attracted 700 optimistic souls with a line-up that included Marcus Marr, Late Night Tuff Guy and, naturally, Flamingo Pier, which also happened to be the name of the festival. It was so much fun, they’re still doing it (these days it’s three days and a tad larger).

Musically, the combination of DJ plus two worldly musicians also worked well. Luke, who’d originally moved to London on the back of a release on Darren Emerson’s Underwater label, was developing some serious engineering skills, while his oppo’s had the other side on lock. “I brought the dance music into it,” explains Luke, “while Dom and Brad were from a more rock’n’roll background, but were into LCD Soundsystem and Soulwax, so they were certainly interested in it.” This confluence of musical ideas is really evident on what you hear on their recordings, anchored by a propulsive kick-drum but with a deft musicality you don’t always encounter in a world of bedroom producers.

Their excellent self-titled debut album on Soundway fell foul of ill-starred timing, coming out during a brutal Covid-driven clusterfuck. “I remember the main single, ‘Eternal’, which is a big uplifting house track,” says Luke, “came out when London went into a major lockdown. No one was really interested in euphoria that week…” However, silver linings and all that. Since then, they’ve had a few synch licenses on Netflix shows like Good Girls, Partner Track and The One and their numbers on Spotify are equally impressive, with both ‘Hold It’ and ‘Tripping Up’ gliding past the 3 million streams mark.

Out of adversity comes joy, though, and their live performing has scaled new heights thanks to New Zealand’s lockdown-averse approach and a season of heavy live touring. At one stage, they’d grown to a nine-piece behemoth, coming on like a Kiwi Earth, Wind & Fire – it’s now scaled back to five. “We’ve definitely stepped up the live element,” observes Luke, “and because Brad and Dom are both from a live background, this is their natural environment. It means we can do something that’s more interesting than just playing the usual DJ set.” The end result was a season of headline tours in their native country, with battle-hardened performances that have brought the album alive in a new setting.

Not ones to sit around waiting for someone to discover them, they’ve also been throwing parties in Auckland, with a Sunday series called Afternoon Delight with buddy Frank Booker, who also collaborated with the boys on Pleasure, another successful weekly party held in the country’s oldest strip club (now nightclub). Both sellouts.

You can almost hear New Zealand in their music, the sound of Kiwi tropicalia. “Our environment influences our attitude. We’re more relaxed here. There’s a lot more just being by the ocean, in native bush, in nature. I think that translates into more joyful, fun, percussive music.” Rooted in the underground, but with a commercial nous that suggests they are capable of progressing much further up the greasy pole that is the music industry, they are ambitious to move forward, to improve, to get better, and with a new studio setup, they’re determined to make it happen, with a series of worldwide live shows in Bali, London, New York, Mexico and Berlin showing an increasingly sharpened unit. This was neatly topped off by a sold-out homecoming tour in New Zealand in support of their excellent Beneath The Neon EP on Razor-N-Tape (a bonus track, ‘Wrapped In Nothing’ also featured on RNT compilation Family Affair Vol 2).

The boys are currently holed up in the southern hemisphere plotting a course for 2024,that includes new studio offerings, backed up yet another worldwide live adventure.“We’re trying to get to the point where we’re releasing consistently incredible music.” Amen to that. Words by Bill Brewster