Maybe I’m just so starved of football these days that I’m seeing it everywhere, but something about Olympic Sweat, the debut single from Ultraflex, really did remind me of sport, and capture that sense of epic scale and sweeping grandeur that you’ll usually find inside a stadium.
Ultraflex is a band shared by two artists probably quite familiar to you already – Norway’s Farao and Iceland’s Special K. Now both based in Berlin, they’ve spun together Ultraflex, a band inspired by vintage synths sounds, disco shine and exercise aesthetics, and on their debut single Olympic Sweat they deliver on all those fronts. It sounds big, it sounds ambitious, and it sounds effortlessly cinematic – put it on, and the pictures start to roll inside your head without you even trying. Check it, along with a Q’n’A with the duo, out below.
So how did you guys start working together, and how did the band get started?
We actually matched on Tinder.
What are some of the influences that play into Ultraflex’s music?
We listened to a lot of 80s American, European, Soviet and Japanese disco, boogie and future jazz to get inspiration for beats, and stole quite a few cheesy chord progressions from British new age music. A huge part of our concept is the visual aspect and doing aerobics on stage along with Soviet exercise videos. We wanna get fit but exercising on the tour bus is hard, so we decided to maximise our time and exercise on stage.
Tell us about the debut single, Olympic Sweat.
We wanted to make an inspirational boost for your jog, our own anthem in the spirit of Chariots of Fire to express the exhilaration of athletic victories. While making it, Kari [Jahnsen, Farao] was channelling Bjørn Dæhlie the moment(s) he crossed the finish line at Lillehammer ‘94. Our debut album will be an ode to exercise, loaded with sex metaphors badly disguised as sports descriptions. Things are about to get real steamy.
You’ve said you’re inspired by Soviet Aerobic soundtracks, and I’ve always found those to be really interesting, because it’s music created for such a practical purpose, but it’s still of such high musical quality and craftsmanship. How did you guys get interested in that world?
Kari brought 100 GB of Soviet exercise videos with her to our very first studio session. We knew instantly that we were born to make something with these aesthetics – we were one with the women in those videos. The Soviet disco music is mostly made by jazz musicians commissioned by the Soviet state because they didn’t want people exercising to Western music, but we are not jazz musicians, hence we have borrowed some ideas from them hoping they will sue us one day and then we can become friends.
Outside of the music, the aesthetic world of Ultraflex seems an important part of the band. How do you expand the world-building you’re trying to do into live shows, videos and so on?
We’ve realised and come to terms with the fact that image is everything. If we want our music to be heard, then our faces and our toned, well exercised bodies will have to be seen as well. So we throw on some glittery leotards and get our flex on.
Finally, what should we expect from Ultraflex going forward?
The best music you have ever heard.
Olympic Sweat is out on Street Pulse on May 22