By Hallie Switzer
FLOSS (F.K.A. House Rules) are the recent winners of the TIFF Next Wave Battle of the Scores competition where six high school age bands score a portion of a silent short film to an audience filling the TIFF Bell Lightbox's cinema 2 as well as a group of judges. This challenge is more daunting than your average battle of the bands, as being a great band does not necessary mean you have what it takes to create a live film score. It requires bands to musically respond to a narrative and action on screen, and to play with the story arcs and dramatic shifts. FLOSS rose to the challenge and ultimately took home the prize – Battle of the Scores winner! As an audience member, the satisfaction of observing a band with incredible potential in their most early stages is thrilling, and that was my experience watching FLOSS on stage. I remember thinking: "I don't know who these kids are, but I have seen them play for all of 3 minutes and an hooked!" They have amazing taste in music and self describe as "psych garage rock with bubbles". So yeah, you're going to want to keep an eye on them!
The band is comprised of three friends, Sadie (guitar and vocals), Elysse (Bass, guitar and vocals) and Callahan (Drums). I had the chance to interview them and talk about the youth music scene, dream shows and the female musicians that inspire them!
1. How did the 3 of you meet?
Sadie: Cal and I met in middle school (Runnymede PS) and it was awful. We both hated that school and neither of us knew the other played music. We only figured that out beginning of high school.
Elysse: Sadie and I first met end of grade 10, at a bonfire. I met Callahan beginning of grade 9 but we didn’t talk.
Callahan: I met Sadie in middle school but I met Elysse at ESA (Etobicoke School of the Arts) suffering through an art elective together.
2. How did each of you start playing music?
Elysse: My mom signed me up for piano lessons when I was in first grade, then I got my first guitar at 13. I started trumpet in middle school.
Callahan : When I was little I was like “I wanna play drums” and then I started.
Sadie: I started really getting into it at some point when I was younger, but music’s just always been around me. My parents are also musicians so some inspiration from them got me going too.
3. What other bands inspire you?
Sadie: The Garden, I think is great because I like learning or trying to figure out how to make sure things sound full with limited people in the band. For a while it was just callahan and I, so trying to make that work was interesting. I think the garden does that really well.
Callahan: Patti Smith, Black Lips, Shannon and the Clams. I like all those. I wanna give those vibes to other people.
Elysse: Cherry Glazerr, and Cage the Elephant for sure. Listening to their stuff just really inspires the type of music I love to play.
4. What was it like being part of the Battle of the Scores?
Elysse: It was really interesting; it was nice having to score a film. It was interesting learning to write a score as a band and then switching back to regular songs.
Sadie: I kept getting caught up in trying to write a song, it felt different to remind myself it was a score. I don’t know if that makes sense but we just knew it didn’t have to be a full song but a piece to fit the scene. Also, because it was a score we ended up making something that sounded pretty different from what we normally do, which was cool.
5. Is scoring something that interests you specially?
Sadie: Not really, we did it because it would be a fun thing to try but I prefer writing without all the boundaries that come with making something for someone else’s piece of work, but it did get me out of my own head a bit.
Elysse: Not me specifically either. But I’ve always appreciated and admired a good movie score when I notice it.
6. What is your impression of the music scene in Toronto as underage artists?
Sadie: We’ve all played separately, but playing all together is relatively new. I think Toronto is pretty welcoming for underage artists. Going to shows underage around the city also has a welcoming and safe vibe. Toronto’s pretty great.
7. Is being a female fronted band something that you consider an important part of Floss's identity?
Elysse: I think it's an important part for me because looking back on it now, a lot of my favourite bands were either completely male or at least male-fronted. I didn't notice that as too much of an issue back then but now that I'm older and making music of my own, I think that being able to create that music as a female-fronted band is something that we can use to empower other girls who are also trying to make it in the music scene.
Sadie: Yea I don’t love how sometimes it’s weirdly intimidating playing in a male-dominated scene, or just going to see a show. It’s not even that I’m worried or that I feel less-than, it’s just some dudes give off a weird vibe that they think they’re above. Especially being underage, too. I love playing with women! And Callahan: Also women still need to be taking up more space whether it’s in the arts or anywhere else.
Elysse: We find that there isn't a lot of exposure or opportunities given to women to support themselves. By being a female-fronted band we're able to kind of defy that restriction a little bit.
8. What would be your dream show to play?
Sadie: oh man, maybe playing with No Parents or something. I met the guy from that band once and he’s my favourite guy ever. But maybe just something really fun.
Callahan : On a roof!
Elysse: I think a dream show would be any show where'd we'd get to just be ourselves and feel our music and allow everyone in the crowd to feel our music too. Having that support of people listening to you is one that can't be duplicated. Any show where that happens is a dream show, by my standards.
9. Whats next for the band?
Sadie: We’ve got some things lined up in March, and following up from TIFF we’ll have a song featured in Riot Girls. We’re gonna be recording something soon and I’m not sure what comes after that yet.
Callahan: We’re also looking for a permanent bass player, so we don’t have to switch instruments all the time.
Elysse: Experimenting and new vibes and playing shows and having fun!
Thanks FLOSS!! Can't wait to see what you get up to next.