The Floozies are an electro-funk duo from Lawrence, Kansas, comprised of brothers Matt and Mark Hill. When I met up with the siblings for an interview, they were shooting hoops behind the Funk N’ Jam late-night venue at the 2018 High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California.
They’ve been playing shows as The Floozies for 10 years. Mark always looked up to his older brother Matt, who started playing music at fairs as a 12 year old.
“He played guitar, so I started playing drums in fourth grade,” Mark said. “It was only natural that we’d jam.”
Mark used to watch Matt play in front of the movie theater where he was paid in movie tickets.
“He was a little kid who shredded and people went nuts for it,” Mark said.
Matt continues to facilitate his shredding abilities. The use of a talk box elevates their live shows and sets them apart from other EDM acts such as Griz and Big Gigantic that incorporate the saxophone. His main influence was Roger Troutman.
“I heard Roger Troutman and I wanted to do it,” Matt said after throwing down a two-handed dunk on an estimated 8-foot rim. “That’s pretty much it. I got one when I was 19. I had to practice it, but it felt natural.”
Matt makes it look easy. When Mark tried on a backup box, it didn’t click in the same way. He said it’s a whole other instrument to learn and it adds a lot of style to their music. It’s pretty, funky and gritty.
“It’s an additional dimension,” Matt said. “I can do vocals and fun effects with it live.”[pullquote]I love reaching for something new we haven’t done, then nailing it.”[/pullquote]
Performing, juggling tracks and instruments is second nature for Matt. He usually works with five guitar tracks to loop and play with, but four weren’t working during their High Sierra set. Where most would panic (like myself when I have a tight window with an artist and multiple lights won’t fire), Matt viewed it as a new challenge and puzzle to solve.
“I only had the one track,” Matt said. “I had to think differently. It was actually kind of fun.”
The first two years of the band, they only used a guitar and loop pedal. They spent a lot of time “making it work.” The tracks weren’t quantized with audio software and Mark didn’t even wear headphones, using only one monitor speaker off in the distance.
“Matt got really good at it,” Mark said. “I’ll watch old videos of him working and he’ll loop stuff and bring it in silently without hearing it. I take it for granted some times.”
On Day 2 of the festival, the crowd at their dusk set on the Big Meadow stage was brimming with energy. Pumped fans filled the entire area allotted for the stage, some so far over to the side that the brothers weren’t visible. They were dancing just the same.
Mark finds himself cracking up mid-set after being impressed by his brother, and even sometimes himself. His ideal set is when they play something new or take a different path to bridge songs.
“Doing the same thing every night is still fun, but it’s great when I get a surprise in there,” he said. “I always try to approach a drum solo with an open mind. If I had a plan, I’d play the same thing every night.”
Matt also favors the pursuit of something new.
“I love reaching for something new we haven’t done, then nailing it,” he said.
The Floozies are also forward-thinking about their marketing and music dispersal. All of their albums are downloadable on their website (www.flooziesduo.com) with the “name your price” option. They’d prefer reaching people and convincing them to come out to shows, rather than getting the quick buck.
They started touring with a horn-section and will be incorporating them on their new EP called “Crown of Horns.”
The brothers in The Floozies spend a lot of time together and have extremely functional work and personal relationships. They never fight as they tour and throw down dunks and electro-funk slammers together.
— Tony Contini
Brews, Jazz & Funk Pre-PartyThe FlooziesWith Big Sam’s Funky NationWhen: 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Tickets: $25 in advance or $30 on the day of the show
ABOUT Tony Contini
Photographer and journalist Tony Contini graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in art photography. He loves working with bands and telling stories. Photography portfolio: https://www.TonyContini.com