The opportunity to interview the frontwoman of Brisbane’s Flynn Effect, Tomina Vincent, comes as a very pleasant surprise to me, having discovered them playing alongside Figures, Acolyte and Enlight at Melbourne’s Workers’ Club last year. Flynn Effect will soon be releasing their second album, Obsidian.
“The album is a mix of quite a few different things, I think,” Vincent reveals. “We have a few tracks that are sort of sister tracks to each other, but I think throughout the record there’s quite a variety. There’s heavier tracks, there’s lighter tracks, there’s also a cover on there. So it’s really quite a variety.”
The second track on the album, “Fade”, is quite varied in itself, with heavier sections as well as sweeping, epic melodies. Vincent explains some of how the song came together.
“I think we initially thought of the intro, our guitarist brought it up to us and I think it was one of the ones we ended up rejecting initially for the record. But I came in and wrote some vocals for it and we thought it was really interesting. In terms of how we chose it to be the first single, I’m not sure,” she admits with a laugh. “It was one of our favourites, it actually seemed to go down well live with people, and we thought maybe this is a good first taste.”
Looking back on “Skin” as a point of comparison, Vincent reflects, “With Skin we were really inspired by Rammstein. It was more about riffs and groove and stuff like that. With this one I think there’s a little more variety in terms of, we wanted to make the songs a little bit broader. It wasn’t the verse, chorus, verse, chorus, chorus kind of thing we did with Skin. So we wanted to make something a bit more interesting. I think we had more inspiration from progressive rock, for example. I’m a big fan of HIM and Lacuna Coil and artists like that, so for me they’re always going to be there as a Gothic influence.
“Usually our guitarist is the chief songwriter, and a lot of it will start with him basically bringing the song to us for us to work on. In terms of that process, it was pretty much the same. But we did have a bit more input in terms of editing some parts, adding things, removing things. With ‘Fade’ in particular, I think it was one of the easiest ones to come together. We basically had the draft, I did the vocals on it and we wrote the drums and the bass. Then it was pretty much an ‘Okay, go,’ from everybody. It was one of the easier ones to put together.”
The recording, mixing and mastering of Obsidian was undertaken at guitarist Jesse Higginson’s home studio, and Vincent tells me about some of the ups and downs of that.
“I think the advantage has always been the cost. I mean, we basically spent nothing on recording and mastering. We didn’t have to use a professional studio or anything like that. We’re very lucky in the fact that [Higginson] is actually an audio engineer for his day job. He’s experienced and qualified and very, very good. So I think the advantage was we had a lot of time, we had no pressure from anywhere, we didn’t have a deadline for when it had to be finished. We could go in and out any time of the day. We had the perfect situation where we had the freedom to work on stuff whenever we wanted. With a studio, it’s a little bit more challenging than that. So that was definitely the advantage. The difficult thing though is that we didn’t have that second ear. We’re all very emotionally invested in the music, and not having that objective, outsider opinion is always something that can be detrimental. But I think in the end we did achieve what we wanted to achieve with the record, so it was a happy ending,” she says with a clearly audible smile.
“We started writing the album in late 2015. We had about half of it done, then we had a lot of personal issues in the band, and that delayed things for a few months. I think we initially wanted to be releasing the album last year. So all in all it took one and a half, two years to complete. In terms of the recording, that was fairly quick. I think we ended up recording in about three months. It was a little bit of a shorter time spent on this album than with Skin.”
In 2016 Flynn Effect supported Italy’s Lacuna Coil in Brisbane, and Vincent looks back on that night fondly. “It was incredible. I nearly fainted when we got the e-mail, I couldn’t believe it. It was fantastic. It was just something we really didn’t expect, because they’re a huge influence for us. They’re one of our favourite bands. When they announced the tour I was like, ‘Oh, I need to apply for this, I need to contact somebody,’ and we got extremely lucky I think, because there’s a lot of amazing bands in Australia and to be picked from all of them was really an honour. It was fantastic.”
Speaking of Australian bands, with the great talent coming out of Brisbane at the moment – Flynn Effect, Caligula’s Horse and Valhalore to name a few – I ask Vincent what’s going on up north to bring about this Metal Renaissance.
“I think what I’m seeing is, especially in the heavy scene, it’s always been very alive in Brisbane. I’m not sure if other cities are aware of that, you know you always hear about how fantastic Melbourne was and things like that, but the Brisbane Metal community is really huge and very, very supportive from what I’ve seen. There’s always a bunch of people at shows. I think that’s what’s happening. The bands do really support each other, which I think is also a big part of it. We really are a community, and I encourage anybody to be a part of that community. The more we are, the stronger we are. It’s really exciting to be around it, that’s for sure.”
Despite the strength of the Metal scene in general, the Australian female-fronted Metal scene in particular is smaller, particularly compared to Europe.
“I’m personally from Europe actually,” Vincent points out, “so to me the difference is just enormous. The kind of music we do is very, very huge in Europe, it’s radio material. Here it tends to be a little more underground, especially if you’re talking about melodic Metal and stuff like that. We tend to be pushed into the progressive scene. I’m not sure why it happens. I think it’s a case of, maybe people don’t know where to put us, and we end up alongside progressive bands quite a lot of the time. I don’t think there is a scene for melodic Metal per se, but definitely the female-fronted bands we have in Brisbane for example, we do tend to team up a lot. When you see those events where they’re themed around that genre, there’s always a good turnout, there’s always a bunch of people that will come for that. We just do what we do, it’s never been a case of trying to fit into a mould, or we should make this heavier so we can fit in with the Metal scene. It’s never been an issue for us where we go, we’re basically happy to play anywhere.”
And where will Flynn Effect be playing next?
“There is a national tour that will be announced. Unfortunately I can’t say when at this point. But we are going on tour, and it will be around the release of the album. Just keep an eye out online, and we’ll have those dates up soon. We absolutely love playing in Melbourne actually,” Vincent goes on warmly, “it was an absolute highlight. We’re always welcomed with open arms in Melbourne, so we can’t wait to come back.” Looking further ahead, she tells me, “I think we’d love to tour Europe, that is the long-term goal. It’s just we’ve always wanted to go there and play, and we think we’d be a good fit for the European scene. So that’s a long-term goal. I think in the short-term, we’re planning to do a much larger tour of Australia and go more regional, stuff like that.”
So what brought Vincent to Australia, and how did she start her musical career?
“I always sang in choirs and stuff like that when I lived in Europe. I’m from Bulgaria, which is in Eastern Europe. I was born there and came to Australia when I was 18. It was quite a culture shock, but I think the first thing that really kick-started me was seeing Karnivool. I saw them at this small venue on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It was the first thing that I really connected to in this country. I think from there, I just decided this is what I want to do, and for whatever reason I was convinced that I could do this. I started pursuing it from there. In the beginning I always wanted to make progressive rock or Metal, that’s something I listen to and I love. Flynn Effect came about by chance, really. I got asked to audition for them, by the previous drummer who used to drum for Caligula’s Horse. I said yes, and they sent the music, and I said, “Okay, I don’t listen to this kind of stuff, I don’t know what to do with this.” But in the long run, it turned out to be a very easy partnership for us. We just really gelled as musicians and as writers, and we really made it into something I love. I just don’t really listen to the kind of stuff we do, but I’m very much invested, and it’s just been a lot of fun. It’s been ten years in the works really, for us to come to this point. We formed in 2012, and we waited two years before we played our first show, and that was on purpose. We wanted to make sure we were ready and had something good to show.”
As for what Vincent is listening to at the moment, Fleshgod Apocalypse tops the list.
“At the moment I’m quite obsessed with Fleshgod Apocalypse. I went to see them a few weeks back in Brisbane, and I think it was just one of the most amazing Metal shows I’ve ever seen. I left there so inspired, with a smile on my face. I’m really digging a few Australian bands at the moment as well. Drown this City are one, and Figures who we actually played with in Melbourne. It’s just so exciting to see what Australian music is doing, especially in the heavy scene. I think the heavy scene is really healthy, and there’s some world-class stuff coming out, so I’m always keeping my ear out for new Australian releases. But in terms of what I’m obsessed with at the moment, it’s certainly Fleshgod Apocalypse.”
Vincent wraps up with a focus on the positivity of the Australian Metal scene.
“The attitude is great as well. You end up working with very down to earth people that have a very strong work ethic, and I think people internationally are beginning to recognise that in Australian bands, which is also very cool. That’s pretty much it. We’re excited to release the album. I hope that everyone loves it, and we really can’t wait to see everyone on tour.”