Premiere: Florencia & the Feeling Share New Single “What Can I Do?”

Feb 08, 2023

By Caleb Campbell

Photography by Donnie Barnett

Since their 2021 inception, Tennessee-based band Florencia & the Feeling have been quietly conjuring a unique convergence of influences, fusing together funk, vintage pop harmonies, colorful soaring melodies, hints of jazz arrangements, and Latin rhythms. With roots all across the musical spectrum, the quintet blur and blend genres with effortless ease, honing in on a shared electric energy and joyous charm.

Those sun-lit vibes run all across the band’s forthcoming debut record, Birthday, due out March 24th. Last month, the band debuted “Meant to Be,” the record’s lead single, and today they’re back with another new track, “What Can I Do?,” premiering with Under the Radar.

“What Can I Do?” is full of the playful energy the band does best. Lead singer ​Florencia Rusiñol’s vocals are colorful and vivacious, fitting perfectly with the danceable syncopated rhythms, breezy guitar lines, and striking bursts of horns. The track is sunny and summery at its core, laden with easy grooves and bubbly harmonies. Meanwhile, the lyrics find Rusiñol reflecting on her love affair with music, a life-long adoration that’s stuck with the band even when circumstances have pulled them away from their calling. The video, directed by Sean Statzer, mirrors this same theme, following as the band trades between various odd jobs before they finally end up onstage together.

Check out the song and video early below. You can also read our introductory Q&A with the band here. Florencia & the Feeling’s debut album, Birthday, is out everywhere on March 24th.

What is the story behind this song? What is it about and how did you come to write it? What inspired it?

My whole life, since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to be a singer. I have evidence – pictures of me at 3 and 4 years old with a microphone in my hand. But let’s just say I took a few detours. Understandably, my parents encouraged me to find a more “sustainable” career in music, so after I graduated high school, I got my degree in music therapy. After graduation, I tried my hand in music teaching for a while as well, and in a true “pandemic thoughts” moment, I even considered dropping music altogether and took the nursing school entrance exam before realizing that all of this has just been me avoiding my true desires all along – to be a full-time musician. I don’t regret any of these twists and turns, of course, but this song was born of the realization that pursuing music has always been in my mind, and my one true love, but in many ways I was scared to admit it. In 2021, when I started this band, it felt like finally surrendering to music, and it was a great first year for us. We added incredible band members and played 55 shows, so at the end of the year, I decided to put this sentiment into song, and wrote “What Can I Do?

Tell us about the songwriting process—how did this song come together?

It started like most of the songs on our album did. Me in my room with a guitar, needing to get this feeling onto paper. This song actually started with the first verse – “Here we go again, faced with an old friend, my first love, she is the only thing I’ve ever known.” Some people may think that I’m talking about a person here, which was kind of the intention, but, of course, “she” is music. Some songs I have to work really hard to get the lyrics or the chords out and I spend a lot of time on it, but this was not one of those songs. I think I sat down to write it and it was done in two hours. It just flowed out of me because this feeling of music calling to me had been building up for 26 years!

Your bio says that songs changed as band members joined the group. How has this song changed over time in that way, and what do you think makes the album version really shine and stand out?

Yes, absolutely. When I wrote this one, we had all of our band members already, so I brought it to the guys at the first rehearsal after our Christmas break, and they loved it. Each band member created their part to it, and together we added the beautiful solo section and bossa instrumental sections because we wanted this song to be upbeat, fun, and danceable. I remember that Noah, Isaac, and I sat in the rehearsal room singing melodies back and forth to each other until we finished that solo together, and it was so fun. The bossa section really came together at the studio when Austin added all the percussion. We also do a really fun bit live where we all play different percussion instruments during that section and dance a little.

What do you think the message of this song is for listeners and/or what message did you most hope to convey with this song?

This is a song for all the creators and dreamers. The message is that it’s never too late to pursue your passion. If you feel like you’ve been ignoring that gnawing feeling that this is not all you want to do or be in this life, that feeling isn’t going to go away – trust me. It’s not too late to go after it today.

Tell us a bit about the video.

We wanted to express the ideas within the fabric of the song – being uncertain of whether music is a sustainable career, working other jobs to make ends meet, hearing music always calling you back, and ultimately following your dream of playing music because you know there’s nothing else that can fulfill you like music does. These themes are ones that musicians everywhere struggle with, and we wanted to share our struggle so that other fellow musicians can identify with us as well. We’re so thankful to videographer Sean Statzer for bringing the crazy ideas and dances that we came up with – at 11 p.m. in an apartment – to life.

What is coming up next for Florencia & the Feeling?

We’ll be releasing our debut album, Birthday, on March 24th along with our album release tour that kicks off March 10th. We’ll be going through eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, and all over North Carolina. We are so thrilled to get our music out to our friends and fans after about two years of being a band!

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