Mar 23, 2021
By Caleb Campbell
Photography by Ash Dye
Chicago-based band Floatie have been quickly making a name for themselves with a joyously idiosyncratic approach to the indie sound. As longtime friends, Floatie have been playing together for nearly a decade before the band coalesced in 2018. That close collaboration results in a one-of-a-kind sound for the band, one they honed during shows in the close-knit Chicago scene before recording their debut album with Seth Engel at Chicago’s Pallet Sound.
The band announced their debut album Voyage Out with lead single “Catch A Worm,” one of our Honorable Mentions for Song of The Week. Since then they’ve shared “Shiny,” another nervy track of tanged riffs and gnarled melodies. Floatie’s debut is due out Friday and they’ve now returned with the last single from the record, “Castleman.”
Much like most Floatie songs, “Castleman” circles around hypnotic riffs, offbeat rhythmic structures, and dreamy vocals. The track initially starts in melancholy territory, pulling the listener into a vortex of circular melodies and repeating riffs. In true Floatie style though, the song writhes and morphs, running through mesmerizing shifts in structure and tempo, at times lurching and weighty, at others feather-light and dreamy.
Founder Sam Bern says the track was directly inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo. As they explain, “I read it and I loved it and I wanted to honor it through song. It’s an interesting challenge trying to fit a 1200 page novel into a three minute song, and I hope that what you get from the song is at least enough to make you want to read the book.”
Listen to the track below and watch for Voyage Out, coming March 26th via Exploding In Sound. Under the Radar also caught up with Floatie over email to ask about Voyage Out and “Castleman.” Read our exclusive Q&A below.
Under the Radar: You’ve all been playing together for a long time but Floatie is a pretty new development. How did the band come together?
Floatie is about three or four years old, and before that we all lived together. Sam had some questions so they went out searching. The question was “where are my friends?” I think we just missed each other and all liked each other’s spices a whole lot so we started cooking up these tasty riffs.
Does having that history as a band help your creative process?
In our case, it is a hard Yes. We tell each other our secrets, so it’s no issue saying “please end that noise.” Being in bands with other people sounds rough, whereas this is smooth.
Floatie has a unique sound that often seems to defy genre. How did you land on the sound of Voyage Out and what does writing look like for the band?
Voyage out is really a representation of what the band sounds like live, but kind of like the face-tuned version of it. Most of the time, we’re all just playing together, and we keep doing that until each person is playing something that sounds good with what everyone else is playing.
How do you balance that creative approach with keeping the band’s sound accessible?
We mostly just try and find the place where our different musical tastes can overlap and come together to make something new that we all like. We honestly didn’t know how accessible it was until other people told us. But who knows, our next album could be only good to the greys if you know what I mean.
What was recording with Seth Engel at Pallet Sound like?
Imagine waking up every day for five days straight, and each time you wake up with the excitement of getting to hang out with your best friends all day, and your only goal is to make excellent music, and everyone is really excited to do it. While not every moment was pure bliss, every memory is. There were a ton of weird sodas involved, some good pizza, and some exploration into the deepest wrinkles in our mind.
I saw that “Castleman” was inspired by the Count of Monte Cristo. What about the book inspired the track?
Every day I wake up and I think about Castleman. I look in the mirror and I see Castleman. I look at the clouds and Castleman. The book really holds a tight grip on you when you read it. Dumas has created a timeless adventure story that anyone can escape to. We want to do that with music.
What are you all hoping to do next with Floatie following Voyage Out?
Traditionally albums would be promoted with the use of live performances in public spaces with audiences present. We would like to do something like that probably.