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Flora Ocean Parkin Flora Ocean Parkin shares new music exploring identity and interdependence

On debut solo EP Electric Dreams Golden Sea, the former Blood Sport drummer puts her voice front and centre for the first time.

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Photography: Martha Conlon. Creative Director: Kip Ives

Singer, composer and drummer Flora Ocean Parkin will be best known to many in Sheffield as one-third of Blood Sport, the much-missed sonic juggernaut that blended driving motorik rhythms with a distinctly industrial take on techno. A move to London then saw Parkin continue working with fellow bandmember Alex Keegan as HYPERSTITION DUO, which added more complex rhythms and intricate electronic assemblage to the palette.

Electric Dreams Golden Sea, released last week on Manchester label Mutualism, is their first solo release. It sees Parkin move further into song forms, using them as launch pads to explore ideas around gender, identity, and our interdependence with the living world. With hypnotic lead single 'Petals On My Chest' named best new music of the week by the Guardian, we spoke to Parkin about her ever-evolving practice and the rich web of ideas that characterise the new EP.

The sound of this EP is a long way from your previous projects. How would you say your music has evolved in the lead-up to making it?

This EP provided the opportunity to explore tenderness, vulnerability, and vocal harmony for the first time in music for me. I wanted to go back to first principles, and develop an expressive, rich compositional approach that flipped the drumming style I'd previously been known for on its head.

What are some of the conceptual ideas you wanted to explore with the project?

This music was written over three tumultuous years. Relationships, gender, health, location, jobs, friendships, maternal desires and pronouns all shifted for me as the music unfurled. Songwriting became a catalyst for the emotional fallout as my life changed, and a way to reach for the outer limits of who I could be. And singing became a generative practice through which I became Flora Ocean Parkin.

In the same period, I was inspired by the philosophy of new materialism(s), the work of Karan Barad, and the reality of our interdependent relationships with nature's infinite mesh. While implicit, this surrounding worldview comes through in the lyrics, sounds and harmonies of Electric Dreams Golden Sea, and is explicitly recognised in the accompanying portraits.

Electric dreams golden sea

The cover of Electric Dreams Golden Sea.


Your voice, sometimes overdubbed several times, sometimes spoken and sometimes sung, is prominent across all five tracks. What made you want to put your own vocals front and centre?

The aim was to strip away as many of the filters, proxies and distortions deployed in my previous bands to reveal something more naked, pure, and personal. During my early transition I saw my inhibitions about singing as symbolic of repression, and an increasing dishonesty about my identity. Starting to sing awakened an emotional, expressive world in me that I'd shied away from my whole life – largely due to insecure masculinity. Singing emerged as a vehicle for my transition, helping unravel my toxic masculine inhibitions, and reveal a more honest me.

Some of the songs do have rhythm tracks and vocal effects – which hark back to HYPERSTITION DUO and Blood Sport – but musically, this EP was about centring my voice, and writing in a more choral tradition. Choral singing has an awe, a transcendent quality, and singing has a universal power that I wanted to explore. The voice has a unique capacity to tell stories and engage imaginations, and inhabiting mine opened up a pathway to my soul.

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