Floco Torres: Childhood Summers, Celebrity Dreams
The kid watched me as he walked by, me at the front door waiting in vain for someone to open the door. I say kid because, though he’s taller than me, his peach fuzz has peach fuzz. I’m hot and sweaty from my walk up Orange Street, the dogs inside are barking their fool heads off, and I hope that the kid carrying a guitar is heading to where I was asked to be.
“Are you here to meet Floco?” I ask. He’s sizing me up maybe wondering if he could take me. He nods and inclines his head towards the back of the house where Star Motel Studios is housed. Even though I’m wondering who he is and what I’m in for, I follow him gratefully towards the back because I know I’ll find a cold drink inside.
I’m sipping on a Coors Light and wondering how Rob Evans could possibly consider himself a downtown Maconite and not have whiskey on tap. But as he explains it, the summer is for clear liquids. Since I’ve been incorporating more gin and tonics into my repertoire, I ain’t mad at it. It is, after all, a nice way to begin a behind the scenes recording session that I was invited to earlier that day. My Macon contemporaries Y.O. Latimore and Molly McWilliams Wilkins are invited as well and it’s nice to watch the other writers in action.
Floco makes introductions all around since he is the only one in the room that knows everyone. Floco found Thomas Young at the Big O Camp. As he coaches Thomas through his part, encouraging him to be himself because that is what will most fit Floco’s song, he laughs about convincing Thomas to work with him. “When I heard him, I was like ‘holy shit. Cool! I want to do something with you. I have this song…’” Except Floco didn’t have a song. “I was like, ‘If I tell him I had a song that would make me work faster to get something to him so we could start working on it.’” And that’s how “Circles and Spaces” was born.
Young Mr. Young has a voice that reminds me of Arrested Development, not specifically the singers, but something about the tone of his voice takes me to another place. He has a voice that’s a few years older than the face he sports and it’s not to his detriment. Check out more of his music here.
The track I heard that night had a serious laid back vibe. The music itself is akin to something Roger Riddle might have in a mix. There were familiar Floco Torres themes: looking back at the past, ladies he has loved, etc. but there was also a little bit of hope, a lot more fun, and a few less tears.
There’s something about the recording process that should be boring. Take after take of the same words, sang so often that eventually you can’t do the take without messing up and the person listening can’t hear the take without singing along. The mistakes, however, turn out to be one of the most fun things, hearing the musicians laugh at their own inability to say simple words, watching the sound engineer adding effects, watching as the musicians and engineers, together, hit on the sound that sounds perfect to them.
As Floco listens to Thomas crooning his old man warble, his smile grows bigger. “I get excited when I think I’m going to make old people proud, then it turns out they don’t even hear it.” It’s true, if they heard Thomas, they would feel a small sense of pride that not all young people have forsaken the past.
“What did you do different in this album,” I asked. Floco laughs and said, “I didn’t make any weird ‘ha ha, you know it’s about you even though I didn’t say it’s about you’ jokes.” He definitely didn’t in “Circles and Spaces,” a song that chronicles, to a biographer’s envy, how precisely Macon came to have Floco Torres in our lives.
The song I heard that night is a song that is on repeat now. Some things are different from what I heard that night, but the integrity of the song remains. It’s almost a return to the Floco Torres I first met. In his mind, Floco has a goal he’s trying to reach, a sound that reminds him of coming up as a musician in Willingboro, New Jersey, hence the throwback to the late 90s/early 2000s that you hear in Childhood Summers, Celebrity Dreams. The songs remind me of the resurgence of hip hop, the first baby steps after gangsta rap started going too far, before we became lost in beats over substance. The first time you listened to The College Dropout and realized what hip hop could be again. Childhood Summers, Celebrity Dreams isn’t about renewing hopes so much as it is about reminiscing. Not the kind that looks at the past with sadness and longing but that uses the past to rebuild. I imagine he is looking back at his start and using it to show himself how far he has come, but also, dwelling in that hemisphere of the past helps him plant himself firmly in his musical future. Reaching with this LP into that first optimism, that first show of support, that first feeling of accomplishment that he achieved in Willingboro means that he can celebrate each new step toward his dreams.
Listen to Childhood Summers, Celebrity Dreams and let me know what you think.