South London-based artist FLOHIO has been making waves in the UK for a few years now, and over the past year has been progressively turning heads overseas. Flohio first broke out in 2016 with a feature on London producer's God Colony’s ‘SE16,’ a tantalizing piece of jangling production with Flohio displaying an already well-developed flow and lyricism, and a style of delivery and presence that instantly identified her as a singular talent. Such talent, of course, was the result of many years spent working away, refining her abilities at youth centres in South London, where the community was tight and the recording sessions were accessible. Flohio is part of a new wave of artists with their feet firmly planted in community, with a humility that grounds their work.
Over the next two years, Flohio built on the initial promise of ‘SE16’ with smashing singles ‘Bands,' ‘Watchout,’ and ’10 More Rounds,’ before releasing her debut EP Wild Yout in late 2018. Not content to sit within the confines of terms such as “grime” or “rapper,” Flohio’s work is characterised by her blistering delivery, sharp lyricism, and her choices in genre-blending production.
Channeling elements of grime, more traditional hip-hop, and techno into a tantalising, hybrid UK sound, her tracks are instantly energising, with a compelling sense of urgency. Ahead of her debut Australian performances at the Civic Underground on the 8th March and the Brunswick Music Festival on the 10th of March, I got the chance to speak with Flo about her work, her history and her future plans.
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Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Flo, I know you’ve got a heaps busy schedule (and you’re performing in Sydney tomorrow night!) How are you going?
I’m all good! Just trying not to overthink things and enjoy the moment as it all comes.
2018 was a big year for you—a few smashing singles, then your Wild Yout EP, a collab with techno heavyweights Modeselektor, a collab with Clams Casino, touring and playing your biggest shows yet. In your own words, what do you reckon the highlights of 2018 were?
I’d say the highlight was introducing myself more to my listeners, and people giving me the space to be me, allowing me to try things out. I really appreciate that. Letting me try to be the artist I choose to be, not just some grime artist. Being able to not worry about what people are going to think, if it’s hip hop or grime or whatever.
What were some of the challenges?
Dropping an EP was crazy—trying to get that project together, just wanting to make good music and focus on that. Again, trying not to overthink it, you know? Focus on working for the community, with the resources around you. It’s not easy and straight forward.
You’re a south London MC, and that area has such an incredible history, particularly with regards to underground music—what parts of south London do you bring with you, no matter where you’re going?
It’s hard to say—I love South London, it’s where I found myself. They fuck with me! They’re forward, and certain of themselves.
I read that you started off writing and recording in youth centres. How do you think that your work in youth centres influenced your sound and you as an artist?
It’s about the journey—I was able to transform into myself step by step, explore things. Work through different versions of myself and hold onto my passions.
In past interviews you’ve been resistant to people labelling your music as one thing, particularly just grime, and even though your discography is still growing you’ve got such a great hybrid sound. Where does that hybridity come from do you think?
I just like different genres! I’ve always wanted to rap, but not necessarily be a rapper. I want to see how far I can go—an artist who can do the most and the best. I can’t just do one path or style. You know I’m still rapping, but it’s moving into the whole spectrum of rapping. I’m just trying to make good music, whether it’s a hip-hop beat, or electronic, or whatever. I keep going.
You’re playing tomorrow night at the Civic Underground with Slim Set—such a great support act repping Western Sydney. What can Australian audiences expect at your shows?
It’s different every night—I don’t even think too hard about it. I just want people to feel touched. Drop a message on the IG if you feeling it! I just want people to feel like kids again, you know. Go apeshit.
After such a big 2018, what’s on the plate for 2019?
When I get back home there’s so much shit to work on. I just want to try and make interesting stuff, but step it up at the same time.
Flohio performs tonight at the Civic Underground with support from Slim Set—doors at 8pm, tickets available at Eventbrite. Flohio will also be performing at Brunswick Music Festival in Melbourne on Sunday the 10th of March, tickets and details here.
Words by MICHAEL STRATFORD HUTCH