Much more than just a simple loop
Krisna Floop is a 26 year old, talented singer/songwriter, born and raised in Bali. He went solo after being in popular local band, Mangrooves, last year, and now plays guitar, flute and loops – that’s loop machine recordings he creates live and are replayed throughout his songs. FLOOP, as you can imagine, is an amalgamation of the words flute and loop – which are principal parts of his act. Going solo he has found his own space and is playing a special strain of folk world music. There is a lot to know about this young man, but the first thing the beat wanted to know was how he got into music.
Krisna Floop: Music has always been a big part of my life. Initially my mother introduced me to it by giving me my first guitar when I was about six. And the rest is history!
TB: Your mother is a musician right? What’s she play?
Yep, she’s actually a midwife/nurse practitioner by profession, but she’s a keen musician as well. She sings, plays the guitar and blues harp.
Not many people can claim to have a blues harp playing mum. What other musical influences did you have growing up?
As a kid, school was the biggest musical influence for me. Joining choirs and music projects. We also had gamelan classes early in the piece, which was really fun. And then, growing up, listening to my mother’s cassette tapes in the car, like Sting, Norah Jones, and some old school soul and RnB mixes as well. She also took me to a lot of live shows to see the local acts. Back in the day in Sanur, there was a reggae band that played at a place called Kalpataru, she took me to see them quite often. And the Moko Blues Band at Blue Ocean 66. Also Tropical Transit was a real Latin band that played at a Padang restaurant called La Pau. Those live bands were all a huge part of my influence as well.
And on your father’s side?
I never lived with my father so, not much. He is a Hare Krisna now so I suppose he is a musician as well in his own rights.
Did you learn music at school?
Initially, I learnt at home, with my mum and just experimenting on my own. Eventually I had a classical guitar teacher for six months and then went on to study contemporary jazz guitar for about a year. Later I moved to Australia to further my studies in music, particularly performing arts and popular music. That was at JMC Academy, Melbourne.
Was there a moment you recall when you thought, I have enough talent to be a musician and you’re out on the road, or was it just rolling with it until you got in the right band?
No, I’ve never felt that I have enough talent, I feel I’m on a constant learning curve. I think that’s what makes it interesting as an artist is that there is always something new to learn. I got really lucky with performing, initially being able to host open mic nights when I was studying in Uni. I also learnt a lot from busking on the streets. I then continued hosting open mics here in Sanur. At the same time I was performing with my band the Mangrooves, which formed when I moved back to Bali after studying in Australia.
How did Mangrooves come about?
Actually they were already running under a different name and different lead singer. They were called the Average Citizens, and a real good friend of mine, Jacob Koopman, was the lead singer. He went to Ireland to pursue his solo career and asked me if I wanted to take his position. So I said yes, only if we change the concept and the band’s name.
No use in being average I guess. How long were the Mangrooves around and what were the highlights?
Mangrooves were from late 2013 to the beginning of 2017. And the highlights? Wow, there were too many to mention and we had a great time together. But I suppose as achievements go, we were nominated at the AMIs for best reggae single and best album cover. We didn’t win, but the trip there was really fun.
So why did it finish?
We just agreed in the end that we all were wanting different things. Maybe one day we could get together again, but for now I believe we’re all happy with where we are.
What were you wanting at that point?
I was wanting a democracy within the band, I suppose I was being too idealistic.
What do you mean?
I had it in my mind that there were no leaders in the band, that we all had an equal part and say within the band. I really wished for an equal democracy and harmonious community within the band. Applying it into our songwriting and assigning jobs, but it just didn’t really happen like that in the end. Also in the end, I felt we all had different musical paths to walk. The Mangrooves was a specific concept, playing reggae roots funk and ska, and that was a lot of fun, but personally for me, I felt it was time to define myself as a solo musician. I was asking myself, if I was alone, who would I be, musically? What music would I play? And what was my identity? And so, Floop was born.
So there was a bit of struggle to get your music played in the band?
No, quite the opposite. It was only my music being played in the band. I was pushing for the other members to contribute to the song writing, but so far, the songs that we have released I composed.
But now you are playing all your own music anyway right? So what’s the difference in the end with Floop?
Well, I guess that’s my point. If I was in a band I would love to collaborate with other creatives as opposed to have musicians play my songs with me. In that case I could just do it solo with a loop station!
Which you did. Tell me about your loops. I suppose everyone is into those machines nowadays, but tell me how you go about doing it.
Ya, well when I first learnt the flute, I thought it’s a bit hard to play guitar and flute at the same time so the loop station fitted into that equation perfectly. I was always experimenting with loops but once I came up with Floop, I began to really take it seriously. I love making beats and playing the bass as well, so that was a good way to incorporate all that into my sound and identity too. I guess it’s just my way of simultaneously compiling what I know to become what you hear. The way I see it, music can be divided into three ways of creating sound…
And if I can achieve those three types of sounds, then I would have a full sounding mix. So I divide my sound into three sections: Beatbox or percussively hitting the body of the guitar and shakers. Rhythm guitar, bass and synth sounds come from my strings (guitar). Wind from my flute and voice. That’s my formula. Essentially, it’s just orchestrating a composition.
I would say the flute helps to make your performance unique. It sneaks into your tune from out of nowhere and creates a haunting, folksie and Asian moment in your tracks. When did you pick up the flute for the first time?
Actually my brother Ben gave me a bamboo flute as a gift three years ago on my 23rd birthday. I really loved it. I had never played a wind instrument before, (besides the saxophone very vaguely) but I felt really natural about it. It just makes sense to my mind. Some instruments I just can’t get my head around playing them, but the flute works well with my brain. Especially the bamboo flute, I love the simplicity of the fact that it’s just a hollow piece of wood with holes in it. Yet if we add our breath to it, it creates a beautiful sound my brain. Especially the bamboo flute, I love the simplicity of the fact that it’s just a hollow piece of wood with holes in it. Yet if we add our breath to it, it creates a beautiful sound.
It mixes well with your Asian bamboo rice field hat, too. (Floop hangs a bamboo hat off his mic stand with his name on it while playing). Is it an Asia meets Western style of music you are trying to produce?
Haha, ya. I suppose so, it’s not something that I really thought of, definitely trying to audio – visualize my ideas and that’s just what came up. From knowing what I know and going through my path. I’m half Western and half Eastern by heritage so I suppose that’s reflected through my music. And had my brother not introduced me to the flute three years ago I probably wouldn’t be playing it.
Yes, life is funny like that. So what is happening with Floop nowadays?
I just released my first album late last month, and next step is a physical release and a Bali – Java tour
Is it easy in Indonesia to make a name for yourself as a solo performer?
Hmm. I wouldn’t say it’s easy because definite work has to be put in to achieve that.
Is it a case of getting hits and followers on Youtube for example or touring is still king?
Social media definitely makes it more practical and hands on. And Indonesia being a country with a really high number of social media users, I guess that makes it easier. And well, I think by touring you can get more followers for your pages, but I’m not too sure because I haven’t toured solo before.
And how about the album? What reactions have you got so far and what are you expecting from that?
The album is going well, it’s like a first introductory album, so it’s just to put Floop on the map. It gives people an idea of what Floop is about and sounds like. Like a ‘resume’ or a portfolio.
And has it been picked up by anyone, is it on the map?
It’s on all digital platforms, Spotify, iTunes, Google Music etc. So it’s available for listening, and it’s good to have under my belt if I’m aiming for bigger events and festivals I have the reference to show off my music.
FLOOP is planning to launch his physical album early next year. There’s also a Bali – Java tour on the cards and some collaborative projects with artists, projection mappers and dancers. Meanwhile, you can catch Floop play live regularly, twice a week at Rumah Sanur and Parachute markets in Canggu. He’s also been seen at The Beat Café playing his tunes recently. Keep an eye on his instagram account @krisna.floop and website Krisnafloop.com for his next events.