The Flavr Blue, featuring Hollis Wong-Wear, who sang the hook on Macklemore’s “White Walls,” moves away from the four-on-floor boom bap of rap on its new EP, “Love Notes.”
Editor’s note: The headline on this story was changed to eliminate the word “sidekick,” which can be considered offensive in this context. We apologize for any misunderstanding the original headline may have caused.
“Seasons change, mad things rearrange,” sang Lauryn Hill on The Fugees’ “How Many Mics.”
That message is appropriate for another trio born out of hip-hop, Seattle’s The Flavr Blue — Hollis Wong-Wear (lately with Macklemore), Lace Cadence and Parker Joe — who celebrate the release of their romantic EP, “Love Notes,” Thursday (Dec. 17) at Chop Suey.
The Flavr Blue album release show
With DJ Sossupersam, DJ100 Proof, hosted by Geo (Blue Scholars). 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at Chop Suey 1325 E. Madison St., Seattle; $12-$14 (206-538-0556 or chopsuey.com).
Though the three musicians came from hip-hop, on the new album they are rebelling from the four-on-the-floor, boom-bap of rap and embracing a more spacious sound, with reverb guitars and big synthesizer swells.
Wong-Wear says the new sound is coming from a more “honest and genuine” place, as she and the band sit in their Sodo studio on a rainy Saturday afternoon, cellphones abuzz with emails and texts about dates, equipment drop-offs and whatever else bands juggle as they’re about to release a new album.
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Decked out in a stitched Seahawks poncho, looking relaxed but also confidently in control of the moment, Wong-Wear says, “More than anything, I am fueled by the collaborations and the people I work with.”
Wong-Wear met her bandmates at rap shows. They started working together in 2012, the year they released their first album, “Pisces,” a dance-inspired LP that bounced from the club hit “F x F” to “Blame You,” a ballad that recalled Kanye West’s “808s & Heartbreak.” In 2013 the band dropped its icy EP, “Bright Vices.”
How does a group whose name sounds like the literal tasting of an ice cube produce a warm celebration of intimacy like “No Other Lover,” in which Wong-Wear declares “No other lover, no other man, brings out the best in me in all the ways you can.”
For starters, even though Wong-Wear sang the hook on Macklemore’s hit song, “White Walls,” and gained recognition on the “The Heist” album tour, writing hooks and chasing fame was never her game. Neither was it for Joe or Cadence.
All three agree that while millions of YouTube plays overnight would be nice, that’s not the goal.
“I wouldn’t want a career like that,” says Cadence. “I want to put work in.”
The band members put in the hours and also take chances. They aren’t afraid to shift musical moods, progressing from the percussive to the remorseful, like on “Bittersweet,” the standout track from “Love Notes,” which sounds like a 1970s Michael Jackson soul song.
The Flavr Blue worked two years on “Love Notes,” methodically writing and experimenting with warmer instrumentations. They take the long view of their career.
“We have a deeper commitment,” says Wong-Wear. “A stable trajectory. We’re giving ourselves time and I think that’s tight.”