INTERVIEW 60. the arctic flow

Making music is - among other things - an act of honesty. And while the concept is highly subjective, sometimes we run into artists that exude this concept by creating utterly personal universes. For some people (I include myself in this group) that's where they find truly musical gems.
That's the case of The Arctic Flow, a project created by Brian Hancheck from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Brian's music is his way of express his melancholy through dreamy pop hooks and shoegaze, ethereal landscapes. A place of his own that we are fortunate enough to be able to experience.
The Arctic Flow has several releases since its beginning in 2008 in labels like Holiday Records, Bubbletone Discos, Beko DSL and more recently Dufflecoat Records. You can check and get them all at his bandcamp page.
Long live the sensitive ones.

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Here's our interview.

01. What is your first musical memory?
My first musical memory is probably when I was 4 or 5. My brother and I shared a bedroom and he would put on Beatles records and play along on the side of the bed with a pair of drum sticks. I always though that was cool. But there has always been music in my family. I first learned to play drums when I was 10. Soon after that my brother, Mom, Dad and me would spend evenings playing music together in our living room. At 13 I started learning guitar and from that moment on I had no life. I spent all my social time outside of school learning chords and writing songs. I didn't hang out with friends in high school, or go to games or dances. I just stayed at home and played.

02. When did The Arctic Flow started as a project? And where does the name come from?
I started The Arctic Flow in 2008. I had quit playing in my last proper band in 2004/2005 and decided I would never again play in anybody's band. Quite frankly, I had grown tired of playing clubs and playing songs that I didn't like. 
I bought an 8 track recorder from my friend and started using it. At first I was experimenting with sounds like feedback and just multitracking guitar parts and ambient drones. I thought it would be cool to have an ambient project and I put some of those early songs on myspace. After those first ambient experiments, I started writing songs and over most of 2008 and early 2009, I recorded a six song EP called I Saw The Silver Sun. 
In the Spring of 2009 I received an email from Jacob Graham from Holiday Records and The Drums. He had stumbled across the EP on the internet and asked if he could release some songs on his label as a free download. I agreed and he just re-released the EP as it was. After that everything happened very quickly.
The name, The Arctic Flow, comes from a line in a song called "Crawl" by The Prayer Chain. I thought they actually sang the line "the arctic flow" in that song and I later found out it was a different line all together.

03. What is The Arctic Flow's aesthetic?
My aesthetic is just to make pop songs, whether in a dreamy, ethereal state, or with a shoegaze feel. I like innocence and unrequited love. I never really had a conceived image. The labels that have released my music come up with the art work. It usually fits the music. I always wanted my covers to look like something The Smiths would have put out.

04. About creative process: how do you create music? What inspires you? And how do you record your stuff?
I am inspired by what I listen to. I can always tell which band I was listening to when I record something because there are always elements of those bands that come through. I always seem to come up with a melody or chorus in my head while on the beach or driving or even at work. I'll write it down or sing it into my phone. The chorus of the song always comes first and then the verses are just thrown on at the end. 
As far as recording, I don't have this massive studio or anything like that. I just have a very simple digital recorder and some effects. I have one guitar, one bass, one keyboard and an old microphone and some odds and ends. That's it!
The actual recording process usually begins with me programming drums and then putting down the bass track. I'll then start adding guitars and keybords and then vocals. I really wish at times I had an engineer or even a producer.

05. You're from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. How's the music scene there? Any bands or artists we should be listening?
I've said this before, but Myrtle Beach is a dismal and hopeless place for any musician with any vision or substance to play or have a chance to be heard. We do have a House of Blues here that gets a few good bands. Dinosaur Jr. and Morrissey are two that have come through here, which for this town is very cool. Sadly, the music scene here is mostly bars with cover bands playing classic rock and country. I can't say I know enough about the music scene here anymore to recommend any bands. I've been out of the scene for nearly 10 years.

06. You have plenty of releases in different labels: Holiday Records,Beko DSl, Bubbletone, Dufflecoat... when did you decided to make your music public and how the opportunity of releasing your material happened?
Well, you know the story about how I got hooked up with Holiday Records. After that first EP, I put out another one and then a single. I also release the LP, All The Way Until December, on Holiday Records as well and was a part of several compilations. After being with Holiday Records I did the digital singles series with Beko. That came about through being contacted by Reno, who is in charge of Beko. I just started introducing myself and emailing labels and little by little I started getting request for songs from Bubbletone and Little Treasure and Dufflecoat. 
I was finally able to put out actual CDs with the last two EPs, which is really exciting. I have been so very blessed by all these people who think enough of my music to want to put it out.

07. Dreams You'll Never Find is your latest release. On the Bandcamp page of this release there's a small intro text, giving some context on how the ep was made. It says you spent some time during 2011 and 2012 dealing with depression and "the blues". Being your music so melancholic, did that helped you to make music?
Yeah, the story behind Dreams You'll Never Find is a difficult one. I don't mind sharing it, though. In January of 2012 I started recording the EP. I had just released As Close To A Kiss As We Will Ever Be and was ready to start again. After the first few songs I just started thinking that nobody wanted to hear what I was doing and began to really doubt myself. I began to compare myself to other bands and was thinking that all my work would go unnoticed. I actually felt like destroying The Arctic Flow. I was really close. I pressed on knowing that I had made a commitment to Gary from Dufflecoat Records to deliver an EP. Through the coarse of 2012 I recorded and erased the EP 3 or 4 times. As 2012 started to draw to a close I just tried one last time and decided that I would let it fly and see what happened. 
What happened is that Dreams You'll Never Find became The Arctic Flow's most successful release to date. Hearing the overwhelming support from people is what I needed and little by little, even now, I am starting to believe in myself again. I feel very excited about the direction I'm taking.

08. Place and time to listen to The Arctic Flow. 
I used to think The Arctic Flow was a good soundtrack for dreary , winter days. But, I would suggest listening while traveling. A friend of mine, Christian, said he listened to The Arctic Flow on his trip to China. Others have said they prefer to listen with the lights out. I guess there is no right or wrong answer.

09. What can we expect next?
Well, I am currently recording a mini LP for Shiny Happy Records that I hope will be out in the Spring. After that will be an EP for Susy Records most likely at the end of Summer or early Fall. By the end of the year I hope to have another EP in progress for Friendly Otter Records. I will be very busy and need to get started. I've recorded all the bass and drums for the new album. Time is just an issue right now. Sometimes I over commit myself.

10. Top 3 best songs ever made and today's top 3 best songs.
Top three songs ever made? I'm just going to throw something at you from the top of my head. 

"Just Like Heaven"-The Cure
"This Charming Man"-The Smiths
"Sometimes"-My Bloody Valentine

And today's top 3 songs:

"Dream Waters"- By The Sea

"Funerals"- Airel
"She'll Come Back For Indian Summer"- Alpaca Sports
and one more
"Dreams"- I Do Not Love.

11. Anything else you feel like saying?
I'd like to thank you for taking time to interview me. Happy wishes for my friends in South America.

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