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Flight Facilities on the Secret Samples in Their Debut Album, 'Down to Earth'

Everything from philosophers talking about LSD to Conan O'Brian clips are buried in here.

Four years go, Flight Facilities released "Crave You," the song that propelled the retro-house wave we've been riding ever since. From the moment Giselle sang that mournful opening line—"Why can't you want me like the other boys do?"—"Crave You" became the beloved soundtrack for broken hearts on the dance floor.

I was living in Paris when the track was catching fire, and I remember hearing it in every gilded nightclub along the Seine. Even now, "Crave You" is still getting traction; just last week, Kylie Minogue released an a cappella version, her signature baby voice breathing new life into the hit.


Next week, on October 27, Flight Facilities—a pair of amiable Australians named Hugo Gruzman and Jimmy Lyell—will release their first full-length, Down to Earth. (Listen to a full stream of the album via iTunes.)

Calling this album "anticipated" doesn't fully do justice to the painfully drawn-out courtship that has led up to this point. Because until now, Hugo and Jimmy have stuck to a simple plan: release one or two singles per year, and make damn sure each one goes big. That's it. "People are too overwhelmed with choice on albums these days so we'd rather put our… focus onto just one song at a time," they declared in a 2012 interview. "We also put a huge amount of time and effort into each single so the prospect of an album would put us into a very lengthy hibernation."

Now, everything changes. Down to Earth is the biggest release Flight Facilities has ever had. I won't call it their "debut," but this really is the first time we've been given a chance to digest an entire body of work—rather than just a taste.

"We always called ourselves a singles group. Now we have to eat our own words a bit," Hugo tells me with a laugh when he and Jimmy come by the VICE headquarters in New York. We're sitting in the office's mini theater, listening to the album while gorging ourselves from overflowing bowls of snacks. "We're three sleeping bags away from a slumber party!" Hugo quips—and he's right. There's even YouTube video of NASA satellite footage up on the projection screen, which Hugo keeps swiveling around to gawk at. Flight Facilities may be named after his grandfather's charter plane company (the boys like to wear the same ties that the pilots once donned), but it's clear that their interest in flight extends into outer space.


I ask what everyone is wondering: What took them so long to come out with a full-length album? "We would toil over songs for so long. But with this record, we were like… we think it's done?" says Jimmy. "Actually, our motto has always been, if it sounds good, fuck it!" Hugo laughs, in between mouthfuls of chips.

After a short introduction—a goofy airline announcement thanking listeners for "choosing to fly with Flight Facilities"—the album kicks off with "Two Bodies," a mellow house track that features fellow Australian Emma Louise. Jimmy credits Louise for suggesting that "take advantage of me" should be both the tagline and emotional heart of the song. "It's about hurting after a relationship and wanting a one-night stand," he explains. "Emma made it so that being taken advantage of became more like, use this opportunity I'm giving."

Next up is "Sunshine," starring the comedian and musician Reggie Watts. It begins with a sample of Watts doing his musical stand-up routine on Conan O'Brian—you can hear the crowd murmuring in the background—before launching into fun, summery funk. "Waking Bliss," the album's fourth track, turns meditative. Layered over swelling orchestral strings is the voice of 50s philosopher Gerald Heard, describing in poetic terms his experience taking LSD. "We're part of a single continent. It meets underneath the water. And with that comes such delight—the sober certainty of waking bliss…"


A highlight of the album is "Clair De Lune," inspired by the Debussy classic. The nearly eight-minute song is an elegant lullaby composed on a continuous loop, bookended with the crackling of a vinyl record—which makes it easier to fall asleep to, they note. According to Jimmy, this track was written self-indulgently, without caring who heard it. Funny enough, this ended up becoming their highest-charting song in Australia. "It's when people write songs for other people that it doesn't work out," adds Hugo.

"Hold Me Down," the eighth offering on the album, returns to their go-to aviation theme via clips of ground control radio. With the soulful croons of Amsterdam-based vocalist Stee Downes, the funky track sounds straight out of the 80s. "We didn't want to overdo it, but it has a very Top Gun feel," Jimmy explains.

From there, it's a hop and skip away to another album standout, "Why Do You Feel." The sample-heavy track features Bishop Nehru, the 18-year-old rapper whose been co-signed by Kendrick Lamar and produced by Disclosure. "We really like 90s hip-hop, and were just thinking, how cool would it be to have our own hip-hop track?" says Hugo.

Finally, the album circles back to where it all began: "Crave You." "We put this at the end because this was the start of our journey," says Jimmy. "We try to make music that will stand the test of time. We're happy to be wrong. But hopefully, we'll have something to show our kids. Not something people will be like, 'Oh yeah, I remember this was fun back then.'"

Down to Earth is out October 27 on Glassnote Records