Chaotic, inventive and pulling together a carnival of influences, Middle East band Flamingods have been attracting fans from across the world for their unique take on global music. Vision caught up with the five piece as they work on their third studio album
A true millennial band, Flamingods were raised in the Middle East, work across continents and create a true East-meets-West musical hybrid. They’ve played Glastonbury, have been called The Guardian’s favourite new band, and have released several very well received albums across the years. Or as they put it, they’re ‘cultural enthusiasts raised in Bahrain, formed in the UK and now living all over the place, including two of us in Dubai. We make noise with instruments collected from around the world.’
And that noise is quite something. Using instruments collected from their travels across Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia, Turkey, Japan and Tanzania, the five piece have a hedonistic, free-form take on world music. Comprised of Dubai dwellers Kamal Rasool and Charles Prest, who meet up when they can with the rest of the band Karthik Poduval, Sam Rowe and Craig Doporto, the group marries African rhythms with a flourishing Middle Eastern melody and Shamanic chants with a mish mash of time-warped pop influences.
'Our vision has always been focused on exploration and experimentation. We take influence from the East and apply it to what we know from the West to try and create some new vibrations'
“Our vision has always been focused on exploration and experimentation. We take influence from the East and apply it to what we know from the West to try and create some new vibrations,” says Rasool. “We’re constantly seeking out influence from wherever we can find it!”
That desire to adapt and update lost sounds has taken them to the heart of Bur Dubai in the emirate. “We spend a lot of time rummaging cassette tape shops for some hidden gems, and have picked up some pretty inspiring stuff. You’ve got to check out ‘Al Meher Recording’ in Bur Dubai; a shop run by a dude who is obsessed with Jim Reeves, it’s pretty amazing in there, you’d be surprised what you find if you dig hard enough,” adds Prest.
It’s when the band is playing live that their many influences come together. With the band in matching robes, and with a trippy, psychedelic air hanging over them, they play free and loose with normal gig conventions, creating a wall of technicolor sound. They took their charity shop chic sound to Glastonbury for three shows this year, while their best gig to date took place in Barcelona last summer.
Coming up, the band has a big gig planned later this year in Dubai, and is working on its third studio album, which will be another blast of exotic noise that blends the old with the new and the East with the West.