Q&A: Montreal’s Fluxus

LOOKOUT caught up with Mark Sandford of the Montreal dance group, Fluxus. Fluxus' five members (Mark Sandford, Chris Ploss, Scott Nelson, Phil Gordon, Matthew Kolaitis) all play their own instruments and bring about a thrash-filled dance rock blowout. Mark is also involved with the netlabel and music community, Sixteen Sixteen. Oh, and he’s got a side project, Master Tone. Oh, and a blog. When we chatted, Mark had just made a bisque for the first time and was, to say the least, uber-impressed with himself. And I was, to say the least, uber-impressed with his engaging interview.

To download Fluxus' latest release, Navy Blue (free), click here.

LOOKOUT: For those who don’t know, can you tell us a little bit about your record collective Sixteen Sixteen?

Mark Sandford: Basically, when we started Fluxus, we needed a place to put our music. You know how every single person and every single band has a MySpace? Typically, it’s like “Oh, go check out my MySpace.” That doesn’t carry any weight anymore. So, we thought why not build our own little website and put all our music and our friends' music up there. Myself, Chris Ploss, and Scott Nelson started the website. Scott, who’s a computer science major, built the most insane website and application to stream music. It ended up being a warehouse for our music. So we could record something and then send it out on the internet. We were recording other bands here at our apartment, and it was like, “Hey, why don’t you put this stuff on the website?”

I noticed a distinct change in sound from Cargoes of Empire to Navy Blue. How did that musical change in Fluxus end up happening?

When we recorded Cargoes of Empire, we had a different group of people than we do now. Fluxus itself was a project between Chris and I and so it was whatever we were working on at the time. When we recorded Cargoes of Empire, there were six of us. When you have six people in a band, it seems like the biggest group of people ever…  Just so many people in a band. We have five people in the band now and it seems so much lighter. I don’t know what one person changes, but it made a big difference in sound. The sound that you hear on Cargoes of Empire came out of the people that were working in the band and these people moved away and moved to different projects. Chris and I wanted to make what we really liked: dance groove, dance music. We got two new members and they were totally down with that and it started taking shape from there. We’ve taken some of our Cargoes of Empire songs and made some of our own remixes, kind of in the vain of Duran Duran or Soulwax. So, it's like a weird evolution and it seems like a right fit.

What do you think is special about Montreal in terms of making music and playing shows?

Montreal is such a creative place and people who are creative here are very serious about their creativity and that’s a really excellent environment to be in. Montreal’s not a big city and that’s what makes it good because we hang out with people that are in so many incredible bands and they’re just our friends. It’s such a rich network of people. I can’t speak for other people in other cities, but the creative network is so big within a small city and that’s really powerful because you can go to a show and chances are, a lot of people in the crowd are friends of the people up there, which is really encouraging and special.

Have you ever been playing a show and everyone’s standing around no one’s really dancing? What do you do? How do you keep the energy up?

That’s one of the reasons I wanted to make dance music. In Montreal, we did a show at this really weird venue, it was packed but everyone was sitting at tables. So we played forty-five minutes of nonstop dance music, and people really enjoyed it, but in a weird way, in a “I’m-gonna-sit-here-with-my-beer-way.” That’s a challenge for me, like how will I make people start feeling what life is?

We’ve talked about this as a band. If we’re going to play dance music, music that is somewhat repetitive and upbeat, it’s our job to look enthused or at least pretend that we’re into it. That’s what you have to do. Montreal’s kind of a weird city for that, maybe it’s part of the European thing. I lived in Detroit for a while and people go crazy. It could be a folk song and it’s like a rave.

What’s next for Fluxus?

We’re taking a little break right now. The next thing that’s up for us is that we’re possibly shooting a music video. We’re trying to secure money for that, which is, you know, kind of difficult. Les Appendices, a franco-comedy show, were at one of our shows and dug what we were doing and we’ve been in a conversation with them about shooting a music video. We’re all waiting on government funding.