Down-to-earth elec­tronic duo are hit­ting the heights with a show in the Do­main, writes Cameron Adams

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - PLANNER -

When Syd­ney elec­tronic duo Flight Fa­cil­i­ties promptly sold out their one-off out­door show with Mel­bourne Sym­phony Or­ches­tra last year, there was one tiny catch.

“The tick­ets sold out in two hours and we re­alised we hadn’t hired any­one to ac­tu­ally score the mu­sic for the or­ches­tra,” Flight Fa­cil­i­ties’ Jimmy Lyell ad­mits.

En­ter Ital­ian Da­vide Rossi — who was in Gold­frapp and has worked with The Verve and Cold­play — to cre­ate the score for Flight Fa­cil­i­ties’ award-win­ning de­but al­bum Down To Earth.

The duo usu­ally work be­hind DJ decks with live vo­cal­ists; these shows fea­tured a 60-piece or­ches­tra plus their own live band. Vo­cal­ists who worked on the al­bum — in­clud­ing US per­former Reg­gie Watts and lo­cal he­roes Owl Eyes, Katie Noo­nan and Emma Louise — all flew in for the event, help­ing rein­vent the orig­i­nal songs.

The show was such a tri­umph (cap­tured on a live vinyl and dig­i­tal al­bum), they’re ready to re­work the con­cept with the Syd­ney Sym­phony Or­ches­tra in the Do­main on Septem­ber 10 as part of this year’s Red Bull Mu­sic Academy Week­ender.

“We’d been look­ing to do it again; we didn’t think it’d be that soon,” Lyell says.

“There’s been a bit of in­ter­est from over­seas, so this might be the last show with an or­ches­tra we do in Aus­tralia for a lit­tle while.

“We love do­ing these kinds of things. It doesn’t make us that much money, and it doesn’t re­ally help us find new fans — it caters to our ex­ist­ing fans. But I be­lieve re­ward­ing them is the best thing we can be do­ing. And for us, per­son­ally, who wouldn’t want to play with an or­ches­tra? It had been a dream of ours for for­ever.”

The pair bonded with Rossi to the point they now Skype him “just to chat” and have started fly­ing new ma­te­rial past him for his in­put.

“The last record was writ­ten pretty much solely with us; we’re think­ing about putting more heads into this one, branch­ing out,” Hugo Gruz­man says.

“We’re go­ing to Amer­ica to do some writ­ing with other peo­ple in June. We wanted the first record to be just us, but it’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see what other flavours we can get in from peo­ple we ad­mire and would love to work with.”

That in­cludes a wish­list of guest vo­cal­ists — they roped in Kylie Minogue on Down To Earth for a new ver­sion of their break­through hit Crave You.

“We’d been work­ing on that list of vo­cal­ists for six months and our man­ager lost it,” Gruz­man laughs.

“There’s a few we want from the past and a few from the present. It’s a mat­ter of who says yes and who we con­nect with.”

Tour­ing with a full or­ches­tra isn’t the most busi­ness-savvy move but, even with their hu­man-en­hanced DJ set, the pair fore­saw the burst­ing of the elec­tronic dance ma­chine bubble, dur­ing which su­per­star DJs and their lap­tops were sell­ing out are­nas while keep­ing costs low and ef­fort of­ten even lower.

“It was of­ten just a dude with an LED screen point­ing his fin­ger,” Gruz­man says.

“You can’t strip it back to al­most noth­ing and ex­pect to be paid top­dol­lar and still get the most amount of crowd.”

“It’s like ev­ery­one woke up and re­alised there’s noth­ing hap­pen­ing at the shows,” Lyell adds.

“The same way peo­ple got into ’80s clothes and Vanilla Ice and then woke up and thought, ‘What were we think­ing?’ I love that there’s got to be more con­tent now. I love that peo­ple ex­pect more. It’s a good thing for mu­sic.” Flight Fa­cil­i­ties’s Down To Earth al­bum gets the full or­ches­tral treat­ment.

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