First off, who are you and what genre of music do you make?
My name is Mitch Welling. I’ve been making music under the name Flatsound since… Ah, way too long. Ten years now. I started in high school when I was about 16 or 17 years old. I’m 26 now. Genre… God, lo-fi, singer-songwriter originally, now I do anything from spoken word to sound art, instrumentals, so yeah. If I had to pinpoint it, singer-songwriter, some ambient, some spoken word.
If you had to describe your music with a color, what would it be?
Yikes. Can I be lame and say like, earth tones?
Okay, then earth tones. Natural colors. Very smokey greens, browns, blues. When I think of Flatsound I think of a very particular blue that I use for a lot of my stuff and it’s a very muted, dull blue.
What’s the biggest struggle you have when it comes to creating?
I guess today currently would be finding time. I always want to create, I always want to work on something. But I do everything myself. I don’t work with any labels, I don’t do anything like that, so now that Flatsound is like my full-time job, I don’t have time to just create, I have to work on merchandise and I have to do customer service and I have to reply to so many emails a day. For me it’s not so much that I get writer’s block, I just get very antsy thinking “Wow, I really want to work on something but I have at least four more hours of this to do”. And then at the end of the day, I’m too tired and it’s like “Sheesh. I don’t want to start writing something, I don’t wanna start recording something right now”. So definitely finding the time right now. For sure.
If you could play any show in the world, and I know you don’t really play live much, but if you could, what show would it be?
Yikes, let’s see. I guess… I guess, I guess, I guess. Are you looking for a specific answer, like I would play this music festival or something?
It could be anything. If you’re like, “Oh, I wanna bring Kurt Cobain back from the dead and play a Nirvana acoustic show.”
Ohhh, alright. Cool. I guess, and this is so stupid because my answer is attainable, I could completely do it if I wanted, I would just like to play very intimate, small… And maybe not one show, so my answer is kinda full of shit, but I get the happiest playing shows with smaller artists, my friends, traveling around and playing extremely intimate shows. No venues. I don’t like venues at all. I really like house shows, I really like cramped little basements, I really like shows that we don’t talk about until the day that they’re happening.
What do you consider your biggest musical success?
Reaching a point in this ridiculous little project that I started in high school where I can take care of people. I’m financially stable. I started this in high school and thought it would be really cool if some people listened to it. It would be really cool if some people understood what I was trying to say. And then that eventually grew to people getting Flatsound tattoos and writing me every day, and that all feels very very surreal, like it’s not actually happening, but what does feel like it’s very much happening to me is that I can take care of my dad. I can give him money. I can give my brother and my family money when I need it. And I do it often. And it makes me haps. It makes me happier than anything that this little depressing music project that I love has somehow reached a point, without working with labels or signing to anything or anyone else owning the rights to what I do, that I can use the money from iTunes and Spotify and merchandise to take care of my family and to give them money. To make sure that not only I’m financially stable but they don’t have to worry as well. You know?
What inspired you to start making music?
I guess I just sort of… I always knew songwriting or being creative was something that I wanted to do, even before I was doing it. But I think that’s how most people are. They look at art and they say “I want to do that one day”. But they don’t start doing it. And I guess I just reached a point where I was like, “I have to start now” when I was like 16 years old and it’s not something profound or like I knew I needed to say this one thing. I just knew that I wanted to document all of the things that I was saying. And I love that about art. That’s the one thing that I can’t get over, even now. The idea of taking a thought and saying “I’m gonna make something real out of this”. It’s not just a thought anymore, it’s a melody or it’s a song or it’s a poem or it’s this. And you can take that and you can press it on vinyl or make a cassette and share it with other people or make a file that you upload to your computer and other people can hear those sounds. You took your thoughts and you made it into something substantial and into something physical and into something cathartic. So I always just felt like I needed to.
If you could hear any person living or dead sing to you, who would it be?
Oh, gosh. Living or dead… And I have to just pick one?
You can pick multiple.
Let’s see, dead. Let me think. Lots of good dead people. Lots of them have died and they’re good. I really like Tiny Tim. A lot. It’s a shame he’s not here anymore. Living, I can’t believe, I cannot believe, that I’ve never been to an Insane Clown Posse concert. Just to say that I’ve gone to one. They’re still doing it to this day! That blows my mind. I want to be just sprayed with Faygo. I want to be there and experience the Insane Clown Posse live. And I can! I can do that, they’re touring all the time. I should do that.
I’m gonna go to the gathering of the Juggalos. This year or next year. I’m promising myself.
We can check in next year and do an interview about that.
That sounds perfect.
Who, aside from any band or musician, is your biggest influence?
To create art?
Yeah, your biggest influence to create art, to create music, in life, anything.
Um… Let’s see. That’s hard to say because whenever a person says, you know, “What influences you to do what you’re doing?” or “What inspires you?”, the first thought in my head is a weird mix between I have to- it’s habitual at this point, I create art because I don’t know how not to create art all of the time- but then what makes me want to do those things is people in my life. Not famous people, but the people that I meet and grow attached to or our lives intersect and I feel that it’s very personal, very beautiful, worth remembering. Or it’s worth acknowledging in an artistic way. I can meet a person and have a relationship with them in a completely platonic way and just want to write many poems about knowing them. It feels very special to me. You know, not to inject the Insane Clown Posse in this interview one more time… No, I’m not gonna say the Insane Clown Posse twice. I could! I could, by the way.
Well not technically, because it’s aside from any band or musician.
Oh, right, I couldn’t! Well, I think that Violent J transcends music, personally, I think that he sees everything. He’s around us now. But yeah, people. Normal people in my life. My friends growing up, our experiences together, I still write about things that happened when I was 16 years old with my best friend in his bedroom. You know? That’s all very special to me, it’s all very personal to me, and it’s worth writing about. It makes me want to write about it all the time.
What’s your favorite book?
I was afraid you were going to ask this one. I was very, very afraid because I knew going into this interview that my answer was going to be Insane Clown Posse-related.
Oh my god.
Just call this interview “Mitch with Insane Clown Posse”. Because this is my honest answer, okay? This is no longer me being funny. My favorite book is- and this is the only reason that I want to go to an insane clown posse concert- my favorite book is an autobiography written by Violent J. 600 pages long, it’s dense. This thing is huge. This thing is poorly written, too. But very interesting. It is as problematic as you would assume an autobiography written in the early 2000s by a 90s rapper in that genre would be. But looking aside from all that, it is extremely inspiring because it specifically talks about being the most hated band in the world and how you deal with all that, how you choose the route that’s not like, MTV and promotion and major labels and how you break away from that while continuing to be the most hated band in the world and make your own universe independently and work every day to achieve this ridiculous dream of being a creative person for a living. And yeah, aside from all the jokes, I do genuinely feel like their work ethic- it’s funny, they seem like really funny people to me- but their work ethic is genuinely inspiring to me. Like, I wanna laugh, but I also feel really inspired. Like, think of being the fucking Insane Clown Posse and having to sell that to people. Being like, “Hey, do you want to be a part of this?” and lots of people for some fucking reason, they do. And they love it. Lots of people can’t get enough of it and it’s completely independent and there’s a lot of really, really good qualities and there’s a good work ethic there. And how I set up my merchandise, how I don’t work with labels, how I do everything myself from the illustration to the album covers, everything. It’s stupid of me to joke about it online all the time, but that is directly inspired by what I read in that book.
What do you like to do other than music and talking about Insane Clown Posse?
It’s funny you should mention the Insane Clown Posse- just kidding. Other than music… You know this is my whole life. Music is my hobby. So it’s most of what I do when I’m not working on music-related stuff. But aside from that, if I’m not doing anything art-related in general, if I’m not working on poetry or artwork or filling merch orders or designing something new, all of that blends into my hobby and work and stuff but with all that aside, shit, I watch a lot of rap battles on youtube, I play a lot of video games. Those are like, the two things that I know a decent amount about. I cannot change a tire on a car but if you asked me who was in the 2004 finals of Scribble Jam I’d be like “Oh, you know that was an interesting battle”. I could tell you all about that. So, video games and battle rap. Other than that I don’t really have time for anything else.
Who is your favorite musician?
Um, right off the top of my head favorite musician would be- and this would tie into a direct influence when I first wanted to start making music for real- would be Jamie Stewart from the band Xiu Xiu. Love Jamie’s work. Still love his work. Still listen to Xiu Xiu to this day, not as much as I should probably, but I still revisit those old albums for sure. So, yeah, Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu is one of my all time favorites. Also, I’m a really really big fan of Owen Ashworth, he had a project called Casiotone for the Painfully Alone when I was in high school that I really liked, I really connected with. And yikes, he’s got a project now called Advance Base that’s in that same genre, it’s very good, and I specifically remember looking at projects like Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and being 14 years old and thinking “I could do music. I could do this. I could be expressive and it doesn’t have to be super well-recorded. It could just be with cheap instruments and cheap recording equipment and I could do this.” And that’s what I tried to do. So he’s a fave, for sure.
What’s one piece of advice you have for young musicians?
Young musicians who wanna make it in music and make a living off it?
Start now. Start yesterday, you know? Start currently. Because when people ask “How did you do this,” I only started making music a few years ago. I did it for no money for a very very very long time because I knew that I wanted to do this. I was putting out full-length albums and not getting very much if any money off it. If you want to do it and it to be your career- If you want it to be your career now you should have started 5 or 10 years ago- If you want it to be your career start now, give it at least 5 years. Half a decade. And do it in a way where you don’t expect to get paid at the end of the day. Just do it because you love doing it. When you find time, make that the only thing that you want to do. That should be the only thing that you want to do. But do it a LOT. And maybe you’ll be so lucky. If you do it for long enough, you’ll get good enough, and you’ll build a name for yourself eventually. The internet is this expansive, huge, huge thing. Work toward it and make music every single day and in maybe 10 years you can put a down payment on a house. And it’ll feel really, really good. I would also give the advice to consider, especially now, doing it all on your own. No labels, no anything. If you’re recording your music yourself, a label doesn’t deserve 50% of your Spotify. Do it all yourself, your promotion, your everything, don’t worry about reviews and Pitchfork and a Wikipedia page and that blue checkmark. That’s all just a fake illusion of what success looks like. Create art because you want to create art and give it lots and lots and lots of time. And that is how I do it. So that’s all I know.
Lastly, what’s your lucky number?
Let’s see. I have many. I feel very good about certain numbers- If I have to pick a really good one… I’m really feeling the number 17. I don’t know. Anything 0-20 I have a really specific feeling toward. Like, 5 feels really friendly. But 9, ugh, there’s no way.
How does 13 feel?
13 feels very… I don’t consider it unlucky, that’s for sure. It feels like there’s something to it. There’s something to it for sure. It feels good. It doesn’t feel as good as 12, but 13 feels more important than 12 but a little more negative. Maybe there’s a dark power to it. That’s a good way to put it.
That’s pretty much why 13 is my lucky number. Dark but powerful.
Is 13 the number why it feels so unlucky that people will skip the floor entirely and it travels between 12 and 14?
Ah, that’s beautiful. I love that a lot.
That’s what I based the blog around is the number 13.
I want to live on that nonexistent level.
It would be a wonderful level to live on. Any last words for the readers?
Uh… No. I’ve already talked so much. There’s no way that I’ll make you transcribe any more about the Insane Clown Posse.
You can follow Flatsound on Instagram at @flatsound, and be sure to check him out on iTunes and Spotify.