10 minutes with...Primary 1

You may not have heard of Primary 1 – aka 24-year-old Joe Flory, but it's our absolute pleasure to introduce him

Interview, Music feature

You may not have heard of Primary 1 – aka 24-year-old Joe Flory. In which case, it’s our pleasure to introduce him. Flory’s debut single, ‘Hold Me Down’, released way back in the wilds of 2007, saw him being breathlessly fêted as the natural successor to Calvin Harris and Xenomania. Since then, however, Flory has released a slew of bewilderingly eclectic tracks, from a breathy duet with former Cardigan Nina Persson (‘The Blues’) to the freeform experimental overdrive of his ‘Mess Detective’ download, to a YouTube-only live rework of Magnetic Man’s current single ‘I Need Air’ for cello and acoustic guitar, which shapes the dancefloor dubstep leviathan into a summery pop masterpiece.

The reaction to your debut release was rabid excitement – did you recognise the person the press were talking about?
That was a bit of a shock to me to be honest, because that wasn’t really what I thought I was doing. But I don’t really think I realise when I’m doing things, they just kind of make their own way on their own. But with a first release, if you’re an artist who’s got everything planned from the look to the story, I guess you know what you’re gonna get. But I didn’t know. A lot of the reasons I made these songs were just because I wanted to make these songs – I wasn’t worried about how they were going to be received.

You’ve been lumped in with the synthpop crowd, but your music is significantly weirder than that of your contemporaries.
I think the thing is that I grew up mainly in Singapore, so I didn’t go to any live gigs or anything until I was 18 and I went back to the UK. So it was literally just going to CD stores and buying CDs. I wasn’t looking at the NME or anything, there wasn’t any of that. I think that probably had quite a big influence, because everything I was into I had to go and find. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this is the new thing and this sound is really big,’ because there wasn’t a scene in the same way that there is in London, where you’ve got every single type of music you could possibly imagine, and it’s happening every weekend.

So each release is a further stage in your musical development…
Yeah, and that’s the thing. One of the biggest things I did was this free download album, Mess Detective. That was all 100 per cent made by me, down to the mixing, and that, in its purest form, was a sense of: ‘Yeah, this is what I can do.’ But when I listen to it, it’s all over the place! It’s funny because when I realised that I was like, “Well, that’s my thing then.” There are things you want to be and then there are things you realise you are without even trying.

Your instrument of choice is the trumpet. That’s unusual, how did you two end up together?
Well, I just thought it was kind of cool. I had lessons when I was nine and I thought it was great because it was really loud! And I’m really glad I did, because it’s a fun instrument to play live. In school, we had a concert band which I really enjoyed. I love brass bands and all that kind of stuff. I got into playing drums after that.

You must have very understanding parents... ‘
Yeah, I do! Ha ha!

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