“I think, therefore I am…but, who am I?” This is the question that Ottawa musician LeFLOFRANCO, or simply, FLO, tried to answer in detail on his first full length album, Force inhérente,meaning inherent strength, released Sept. 27, 2019.
It’s also the question FLO will continue to answer during his two shows on Mar. 7 and 8, 2020 at the Festival du Bois in Coquitlam.
A musical search for meaning
FLO – the letters stand for pride, loyalty and originality in French – is an artist seeking to transform his life experience into sounds that accurately reflect his inner world and his experience as a human being.
“[Force inhérente] is a kind of answer to a question I asked myself. I was inspired by the quote from Descartes, only I allowed myself to add to this question… ‘in fact, what am I?’” FLO says. “So, the album is a kind of detailed answer to this question of ‘Who am I?’ and my answer through the [album’s] 12 songs is, I see myself as a force, and when I speak of force I speak of energy, of spirit, of the essence which animates my heart.”
The result is what FLO deems a multi-coloured album where a range of human experiences and emotions are expressed through a diversity of sound and genre that is key for him.
“I don’t like to say that I am a rapper… I am an artist, period. But my musical strength is really rap, rhythm and poetry,” says FLO.
FLO explains there have been many genres of music that have influenced his life, so he wanted to show this musical diversity. He feels all these colours are a part of him and coexist harmoniously in the album.
“Bal exotique is really true to my Haitian origins. It’s a compas, a traditional Haitian genre, and it’s my sister who sings in the chorus with Tha Incradouble Pack, a duo of Haitian rappers,” says FLO. “And then we have the title track, Force inhérente, which is kind of electro, dance, EDM. Then we have a song like Haute vibrations which is a celebratory soca tune, or On en a assez!, which is a bit of a grungy rap.”
Challenging expectations and stereotypes, FLO, who released three EPs before releasing his latest album, also hopes his music broadens the spectrum.
“Sometimes someone will say, ah yes, he is a rapper, but as soon as they say rapper, for some people, that blocks them. But if you allow the music to be colourful, more people will be able to find themselves in the album. [This diversity] also reflects my identity, which is complex,” he laughs. “Haitian and Franco-Ontarian.”
An ambassador for the Francophonie
Born in France of Haitian parents, FLO grew up in Ottawa, deeply immersed in both the Haitian and Francophone communities of the city.
“When I arrived in Ottawa, I was eight years old. That’s why I really feel like a proud Franco-Ontarian – that’s where I grew up. I studied in Ottawa, and [have been here my entire] adult life, and I launched my career in Ottawa as well. Ottawa is my home.”
Though a rising name in his Franco-Ontarian community, this is the first time FLO will be bringing his music to the West Coast, with three stops in Victoria and two shows at the Festival du Bois. On stage, FLO says audiences can expect a traditional hip-hop set up consisting of him and his DJ, but also a representation of the multi-genre album.
“I hope to make the audience dance and to make them think too and then to share some emotions together. We will dance together, dip into some emotions and it will be a good time.”
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