There’s something indescribable, yet epic, about Moccasin Blade and Flung (The Cerulean Trade). Somehow, these two manage to balance lyrical, ameliorate rhetoric with a certain untamed, revolutionary spirit. The newly formed duo sat down with me to discuss their genesis as well as their expansive vision for the group.
We decided to meet at Friends and Neighbors, a homey bungalow right off of Cesar Chavez, which doubles as a vintage boutique as well a cafe and bar. We sat outside, under the twinkling lights strung from the pecan trees — it was easy going and vaguely familiar. On top of being extremely kind hearted individuals, I soon discover Moccasin Blade and Flung are both riveting storytellers. Their music, which champions the downtrodden, the marginalized and the working class hero, is reflective of that. Their debut song, “Handheld Darwin,” is an ingenious blend of profoundly clever lyricism and hard beats to create an intentional discordance which is spellbinding for listeners.
Katie: How did you come up with the name for your group?
Moccasin Blade: We came up with the Cerulean Trade name in order to insinuate perception in the listener… I like the organization of the phrases so that’s what it is. That’s who I am for this.
K: How did you guys come together?
M: This has everything to do with TV on the Radio, Kevin’s [Flung’s] group that he was doing at the time he was on tour with TV on the Radio.
Flung: Yeah, we toured with them. They’re one of my favorite bands, and the next thing you know we were touring with them and hanging out with them day and night.
M: I didn’t know Kevin personally at the time. But I threw a surprise after party for all the guys after one of their shows in Florida. So we were all talking together at this after party and Kevin and I seemed to have this symbiotic levity. We had a kindred love of music. We talked about Star Trek, we talked about Björk.
F: I remember that!
M: And I’m a tremendous fan of Björk.
F: After that initial meet, I went on tour for three years, but we always stayed in touch. And about four or five months ago, Moccasin Blade hit me up and said he wanted to move to Austin.
M: And that’s the purpose of why I came here, for Cerulean Trade.
F: And so over the phone we started talking about what we wanted conceptually, sonically. And I was like I need you — Austin needs you.
K: You had your first live premier at The Empire Control Room earlier this month. How did it go?
F: It was good to get one under our belt. It was a good venue, good energy, good space.
M: Good, continental audience. It was great.
K: So what roles do each of you play in the creative process?
M: We both are involved in the whole creative process. I primarily make the tracks. He writes the lyrics, but we both contribute to each other. There is diplomacy in the architecture of it all. And I strive to be congruent to the introspective aspect of what Flume is doing.
K: Who do you think your music speaks to the loudest?
F: The disenfranchised.
M: It’s a gargantuan task to make an anticipation on who the recipient is. In the existential nucleus of the Cerulean Trade, we strive to vocalize the sentiments of the brutalized and the marginalized who are unable to articulate their sentiments because they are so suppressed and so buried sociologically that they become mute. Or they don’t have access to the words to be able to authentically express the complex feelings that comes from being enslaved. And I don’t think slavery is a harsh definition of what we live in. Of course there is tangible slavery, but now we’re wage slaves. It’s all the extensions of capitalism. We have a brutal vendetta against totalitarianism. That is not the entirety of our concept, but that is the endoskeleton and the visceral capacity of what the Cerulean Trade is.
K: Thematically then, what you tend to gravitate towards in your lyrics? I know you talk a lot of systematic oppression, patriarchal normalization, and the notion of Justice.
M: The artistry is a byproduct of your consciousness and your exposure and your experience. Of course, justice and alternatively injustice is going to be some very powerful variables in what I write because of how I internalize my peripheral environment. Escapism is a primary component of survival, so naturally at times I expose my sentiments in that way.
F: As far as what we stand for and our beliefs, I mean we butt heads at time, but as far as our principle, we never disagree. Creatively of course, we get to go back and forth. But that’s all part of the process.
K: Someone that is hearing your music for the first time could consider it it’s own form of activism. Do you consider yourself to be an activist?
M: I’ll let the unadulterated annals of history respond for that by my actions now. We adopt all types of roles. But from the way I’m built, and the way that I think, I have an aversion for titles, because if you step under the umbrella of titles, you tend to be enveloped in the normative function of what that title is. Say you play a sport. You’re automatically grouped into that category. Although we both have a great appreciation for sports. I played basketball.
F: I played baseball. And honestly with sports, I can appreciate heart and tenacity.
M: What’s insightful about sports isn’t the topical function, it’s the subtext. If I do anything, I have to commit myself fully to a function.
F: Throughout history, sports has evolved into an outlet for aggression. How to get along with other men, in terms of race relations also. In many ways, sports enlightened mankind, because it’s a form of entertainment.
K: It’s also a level playing field.
F: It’s one of the few things that exists where there’s not much nepotism.
M: It’s primordial. There’s an equability about being on the field. When you’re playing, you see people in their truest forms. The way people play is reflective of how they are in true life.
F: In “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, he talks about the 10,000 hour rule. Masters of a craft have put in their time, usually before the time they turn 13-years-old. There’s a science to how people master their shit, you have to sacrifice in order to achieve something monumental.
M: And your reservoir does run out, physically.
K:That’s why that connection between mind and body is crucial. Which you can liken to your music, I’m sure.
F: Spiritually, too.
M: Emotional development is crucial in our process. In life, principles are consistent. The circumstances are the only thing that needs to transition. You can’t skip chapters in this world. You’re going to fail if you skip chapters. On the same note, if you’re given skills, you’ve got to nurture it. You can’t let it sit and rust.
K: Would you say that you’ve honed your talents as a musician?
M: It’s an evolutionary process. Which is why instead of being specialists, we don’t contain our music.
F: If your bag is indie rock, you buy the uniform, learn the cords, emulate a certain esthetic. If you’re in hip-hop, you look a certain way, go in debt a few hundred grand to look fresh…”
M: That indoctrination is a superlative point. Our goal is to create and mold something new. And that’s what the context of what the Cerulean Trade is — being defiant to those labels.