Nick Flessa is an artist and musician based in Los Angeles. He is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. His debut solo exhibition, Death Production: The Archive of Janna Flessa (Executed by Nick Flessa), was on view at Los Angeles Contemporary Archive from February 10th – March 24th of 2018. Nick was the central creative force behind Wash (LA), a conceptual alt-country project developed at CalArts, where he graduated with an MFA from the school of Film/Video.
Flyover States is Nick Flessa’s first solo LP. Departing from his more experimental and instrumental releases,Flyover States develops a precise and playful variation on country-rock and lo-fi sounds, with a wry focus on songwriting that is equal parts performative and sincere. The result is a cinematic collage of seemingly plain- spoken, bare-bones, country-inflected set pieces that are elevated by lush, expressive arrangements that include pedal steel by J.D. Carerra and Piano by Richard Valitutto (Wild Up, LA Philharmonic), as well as the bubblegum operatics of backing vocalist Lucy LaForge. Michael Abitz, Susanna Battin, Seth Blake and Adam Snider (Berkeley Guitar), all former members of Wash (LA), sporadically serve as the backing band.
While working on the record, Flessa and producer Neil Wogensen (Valley Queen) called their aesthetic “Bedroom Nashville”, and made the majority of the recordings in Wogensen’s garage in Frogtown, Los Angeles. The principle was to create a different space for each song, using refined arrangements to contrast their more intimate, rickity cores.
“I called the record Flyover States because someone from LA told me they thought it was interesting that I was from a ‘Flyover State,’ and that I had knowledge of ‘Flyover Country’ as some kind of lived experience,” Flessa explains, continuing: “This record is sort of a vision of a Midwesterner moved to Los Angeles trying to depict some literary sensibility of the Midwest with Los Angeles as the template and subject. Sonically, my voice is centered, but the arrangements are sprawling and indicate a more expansive environment.”
Susanna Battin created the album art by distorting an anonymous Los Angeles postcard image with an ominous view looking West toward Hollywood. On the back of the record we see Flessa, back to camera, in rural Indiana, stretching and looking out toward a swampy, Middle-American landscape. This contrast highlights the cryptically personal, yet impersonal qualities of Flyover States. The songs on the record and the stories they tell seem to alternate between the West Coast and Midwest, or simultaneously exist in both places. In its totality, the record tells a suggestive, fragmented story. Flessa cites writer William H. Gass, Guided by Voices, Smog, Silver Jews, Gram Parsons, Andy Kauffman, Jonathan Richman and Neil Hamburger as influences.
4. Let Her Go
7. Henry Green
8. The Highwayman
9. There is Mercy
“Flyover States” is scheduled for a July 27th release through German label Eliterecords.