Band To Watch

Band To Watch: Florry

In 2003, Chloë Sevigny would endure the biggest controversy of her career, the Riot Grrrl group Bratmobile would officially break up, and Sheridan Frances “Francie” Medosch would still be in diapers. When I call the 17-year-old via video chat, she is sitting on the floor of her bedroom in Berwyn, PA with her cat named Simba (one of three, the others are named Bill and RoboCop), detailing her love of these iconic women, who embody a cool and fearless persona that seems to have rubbed off on and inspired Medosch herself.

Medosch is the mastermind behind Florry, a garage rock project with bluegrass subtleties. She’s been playing music since she was a child, and is knowledgeable and passionate about a wide range of genres. We roam around the massive field of her inspirations, from the complex chord structures of Bossa Nova, to Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall, to her slide guitar inspirations John Fahey, George Harrison, and a Grateful Dead side project called Old And In The Way. She’s a fingerpicking wunderkind whose affecting songwriting is deeply vulnerable and earnest. A line from their recent single, “Please,” captures the gutting quality of her lyrics perfectly: “Please don’t tell me I’m pretty/ I can decide that when I’m ready.” Just like her music, Medosch is honest, open, and forthright, bringing nuance and vulnerability to her project Florry and their forthcoming debut album Brown Bunny, out in November on the Priests-affiliated label Sister Polygon.

The “band” of Florry is a bit of a hedge maze; its origin story blurry. Medosch first met her current drummer Theo Woodward and collaborator RL Srinivasan in high school. She recorded a self-titled album with RL under the moniker Francie Cool, which disbanded nearly a year ago. Medosch named her new project Florry, whose current lineup is Woodward and bassist Peter Gil, but she talks in circles about adjacent musicians who have helped in the past or might contribute in the future. Each person involved is connected to someone else like a magician’s rainbow scarf that seems infinite with each pull—they’re all involved in multiple projects, including Medosch’s work with Old Table.

Brown Bunny traverses various shades of melancholy and isolation, exploring the expectations of femininity, acting and wrestling with societal expectations in order to create a new definition for it. The songs were written over the course of the past few years, the oldest song was penned when Medosch was 14. “Looking back now they’re a lot different songs to me, looking back they’re a lot darker than I had realized. “Period” is probably the saddest one that I had ever written. I kind of describe it as a sadder version of Bratmobile’s “Stab.” The song is about me sort of trying to obtain happiness and femininity while under a cloud of depression and mental instability,” she says.

As an avid fan of Riot Grrrl and literature, Medosch is a punk-academic hybrid. She’s a self-taught, eager musician and she aspires to be an English teacher. She speaks eagerly about her Riot Grrrl 7″ collection, which is a dominant influence on her songwriting. “I love 7″s from the Riot Grrrl era because a lot of them use images of girlhood innocence to imply infantilization of women and they do it so subtly. I think it’s so fucking badass. It’s something I talk about a lot. I talk about the infantilization of women in so many of my songs. When I found out that these 7″s were using the idea I thought it was so cool, this is was what I want to do,” she says.

Check out Florry’s new single, “Kanagawa,” and read our Q&A with Medosch below.

STEREOGUM: Where did the name Florry come from?

FRANCIE MEDOSCH: It’s from this book called A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith, from one of the character’s names. This was a really important book for me growing up. My past band was named after another character from the book. Everyone thought that I just named the band Francie Cool after me. It was actually after another character in [A Tree Grows In Brooklyn]. It got really confusing at times. After Francie Cool ended, I took another name from the book and I also like the name Florry.

STEREOGUM: Why does that book mean so much to you?

MEDOSCH: My mom read it to me when I was little. I remembered enjoying it. I re-read it in eighth grade. I was so depressed that year. It was a bad year. I got bullied a lot for no reason and then I ended up trying to kill myself. It was really bad. But then I re-read it and I connected to it so much. It sort of reminded of the reasons for living and just the community you can find. I was just in a really bad place where nothing was positive in that moment.

STEREOGUM: I’m interested in how you want people to interpret the songs on this album, how you’d like people to listen to them, because they were written in so many different periods and there definitely is that undercurrent of darkness.

MEDOSCH: I used to pretty much write all my songs like that actually — light happy overtones and then really depressing undertones. The song “Extracurricular Activities” is probably the weirdest song and the most happy-seeming but that song is actually about prostitution — actually, the second half of the song isn’t about prostitution. I take lines from A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. It’s this part of the book where the girl and her brother are talking to their mom and they’re asking, “What’s the difference between girls and boys?” The mother says, “Girls sit down when they pee and guys stand up.” The boy says sometimes when it’s really cold outside he likes to sit down because it’s warm and the girl says, “Sometimes when it’s thundering I am too scared to sit down so I stand up and just do it really quick.” I just thought it was funny. So it’s about that. That’s the oldest song on the album.

STEREOGUM: I noticed the idea of the “normal girl” coming up a lot. I wonder if you could speak to that?

MEDOSCH: Yeah! I think the two songs that I really touch on that are “Please” and “Someone Please Ask Me Out.” The first time I ever felt bad about being trans was actually initially when I came out ’cause this friend who was my best friend for freshman and sophomore year, and he ended up completely ghosting me. I don’t know, it was really unreal, I was like, “Wow, this must be a TV show or something. This is so shitty.” After awhile I got really hung up on it and just wished that I wanted to be whatever he thinks is normal, while maintaining my femininity. I wasn’t going to hide my gender identity for him.

At the same time I felt crazy. I told him I was gay. I think that’s actually what freaked him out the most. I think it’s crazy when people can still be so rude for the dumbest fucking reason. “Please” is about that: about me hating society as a whole — not society as a whole — but about the pressure of trying to conform. Then “Someone Please Ask Me Out” was about me wishing I was normal — well not really, it’s sort of mocking the wish to be normal because I clearly condone whatever people want to be, whatever they want to do. Oh! I also mentioned [my cat] Simba in that song. I talk about him because he was the man in my life at that point.

STEREOGUM: Would it be accurate to say that there is sincerity, but then also a rebellion against wanting normality?

MEDOSCH: Yeah, because as much as I am against people hating me for my gender identity or being gay and shit, at the same time my life would be so much easier if I was cisgender. I think at different points throughout the album it’s like frustration, and then me being okay with myself. The whole album is about me learning to love myself, or me coming to terms with the fact that I need to love myself. I think a lot of the album feels like self-deprecation but it was sort of my way to move on from trauma.

STEREOGUM: Why’d you name the album after the movie Brown Bunny?

MEDOSCH: Me and [collaborator] Abbie [Jones Hornburg] are — I think I am a bigger fan — but we’re diehard fans of Chloë Sevigny. Diehard fans. She is my queen. She is my goddess. I have so many photos of her on my phone. My background is her. I love her so much. I rotate different photos of her every month. I almost wrote my college essay about her.

I named the album Brown Bunny because, well you know that she gave head to Vincent Gallo, and was slut-shamed for it. She was called all these shitty things, and I feel so bad that she had to go through that at all. Coming back from that must have been so weird. People were calling her a slut ’cause of some dumbass movie. It wasn’t a dumb movie, it was a fine movie, a kind of weird movie. I guess I related to it because the album is about coming back from a place of having hated yourself based on other people’s opinions and judgments of you. I just really connected to that and I also love bunnies. Emily Yacina did the album cover art.

STEREOGUM: Also Chloë chose to do that. I assume that Gallo didn’t get any shit for it.

MEDOSCH: No! Absolutely not. People were probably like, “High five bro, good job!”

TOUR DATES:
10/08 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie w/ Hypoluxo & Mavis The Dog
11/16 Boston, MA @ The Farm
11/17 Washington, DC @ The Black Cat
11/18 Philadelphia, PA @ Tundra Dome w/ Emily Yacina & Corey Flood
11/19 New York, NY @ The Glove w/ The Cradle, Privacy Issues, & No One and the Somebodies

Brown Bunny is out 11/23 via Sister Polygon. Pre-order it here.