Minnesota native Cole Randall and partner Shpresa Lleshaj perform together as Flora Cash, an indie pop duo who released their hit “You’re Somebody Else” last winter, from their 2019 EP Press. Forbes described the song as “arguably the most intriguing song on radio this past year.” They return to Minneapolis April 28, to perform at the Varsity Theater with lovelytheband and Jagwar Twin.
The two met on Soundcloud when Lleshaj complimented Randall’s music. Their relationship progressed from messages to Skype and eventually prompted Lleshaj to fly from Stockholm to Minneapolis. Now, they travel together, touring as Flora Cash and developing fresh music.
I got to call and chat with Randall and Lleshaj the day after their first show on tour with lovelytheband. Here’s how it went:
What is it like touring with lovelytheband?
SL: It’s fun!
CR: They’re great guys, very talented. The important thing is that, behind the scenes, they’re genuinely good people. It’s a lot of fun.
What makes this show different?
CR: We brought on a new musician, a really cool multi-instrumentalist. He’s doing a bunch of stuff on stage musically.
We brought on more production and lighting.There’s some cool surprises that are going to be on stage. It’s going to be fun. It’s different than what we’ve ever done before, and we hope people dig it.
Is it hard to adjust to performing and being under lights?
CR: As long as you’ve done your prep work and your head is in the right place, it’s like any other job in that sense. As long as you come prepared, it’s like any other job. It’s work, but it’s fun.
I’m impressed. I wouldn’t be able to do that without shaking!
CR: We still get nervous. Some nights are more nerve-racking than others. Sometimes there’s something in the air. You’re just like, ‘Dude, let’s do this. It’ll be fun!’ Other times, it’s like, ‘Oh god, what are we doing with our lives?’
SL: Every time we step on stage, like five seconds in, we get up there and never want to leave. I think it’s important to be a little bit nervous, ’cause maybe otherwise you don’t care.
How does coming back to Minneapolis impact your performance?
CR: My favorite part of being down is seeing my family and good friends. Every time I come, I get a whole bunch of family members to show up. I get to see them, which happens all too rarely nowadays. It’s really like a homecoming every time we come down there. Shpresa is really close with my family and some of my friends there, so it really makes us feel at home for a quick minute on the tour, which can be kind of spiritually refreshing.
Luckily we have each other, so home is where one another is. But it can take a toll when you’re always in a different place on tour. So coming back home, there’s a coziness to that. It’s always a welcoming audience as well.
How does being a couple impact your music?
SL: It impacts it a lot. How? In every way!
CR: Maybe we’re a little more honest with each other than if we were just good friends or musical collaborators. It’s allowed us to express ourselves more openly. It pushes us to better places musically. It forces us to be our best. We call each other out if we’re being lazy.
There’s other aspects of it, as well. We live together, so we don’t have to schedule things. We’re always together, so it gives us a lot more time to be spontaneous with the writing.
Your lyrics are very vulnerable. Do you get a lot of reactions from listeners?
CR: If people do see the honesty, it helps explain their reactions. If you go to the comments section below the “You’re Somebody Else” video, it’s like a big group therapy session. People talk about everything…The atmosphere there is so supportive and positive.
SL: Sometimes we take time to read them through and look at messages.
CR: It even brings us to tears. Some nights, I’ll read them out to Shpresa, and it’s so heart wrenching, it can be hard to get through them. People react so honestly.
How has your sound changed, from working as individuals to finding each other and making music together?
CR: As we’ve evolved and matured and gotten closer in our relationship, it’s pushed us to try different things. We’ve gotten a lot pickier about what actually ends up on paper. I think you know when you’ve written above-good and find something you feel is great. Sometimes, as people, we settle for something less. But in the last few years, when we see something we don’t like, we’ll sit down and fix it, even if it takes hours.
SL: We try to express our emotions with song. That alone is a process. It’s a lot of figuring out what we’re feeling. A lot has changed since we met.
What do you see in the future of Flora Cash?
CR: What hit us is how much the music can help people and get people to see a different perspective. So we’re trying to reach people, apart from the vanity of it, to help those who might need it.
SL: Self-expression is good but, in the last year, we’ve realized we have a responsibility. Things have changed, and it’s hit how we impact people.
CR: We’re hoping to reach more people and get rid of anything that might stop us from writing less honestly. Hopefully we can keep doing what we know is the right thing.
Anything else listeners should know about Flora Cash?
SL: We’re excited to come to Minneapolis and see everybody.
CL: We’re going to put out a full-length album late summer to early August. So, hopefully people enjoy it!