True City Boys: Q + A with Signal Flow

By NICOLE FREDERICK
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Michael Tello and Ray Zuniga, aka Signal Flow, recently released an EP rightfully entitled City Livin and these SoCal bread, now Brooklynite boys, are making a splash with this funk inspired, five song EP that screams old school house with a mix of new school soul. Wanting to get the low down on how Signal Flow came to be via the infamous DTLA Standard rooftop, where their unique sound came from and when we’ll be getting a full album from the dynamic duo, we caught up with Ray on his down time between shows to get all the deets:

LA CANVAS: So, How did Michael Tello and Ray Zuniga become Signal Flow?

RAY ZUNIGA: Michael and I met in 2008 at a party at The Standard rooftop In LA. We both had mutual friends and ended up hanging out and then went back to Michael’s huge house in Sherman Oaks hills that had a professional recording studio in the basement. We bonded super quick on the fact that we both went to Audio Engineering school and instantly started working on music. A little while after Michael moved back to San Francisco and I stayed in LA for work reasons. PillowTalk came about while Michael went back to San Francisco but we had been working together a while before that. I eventually moved back to San Francisco as well, then we all moved to Berlin together for a Summer, and I ended up staying there for about two years. Now we are finally in Brooklyn together living on the same street, and a proper studio which makes things so much easier and productive. It’s been a long time in the making, and we have so much more to share.

LAC: Why the name Signal Flow?

RZ: Signal Flow was initially a concept for an event but then we realized it fit both of us because we both take pride in being audio engineers and our passion to create and make things right in the studio. Hence, Signal Flow.

Signal Flow press pic 2Photo By: Brian Park

LAC: City Living is very Funk Driven lyrically with some future tech tones—we love “Livin Off The Wall ft. Gustaph”—how did this sound manifest itself?

RZ: What happened was “What U Gonna Do” was one of the very first handful of tracks that we finished together and at the time it didn’t really sound like anything else we were doing so we kept it in the vault. Then Culprit heard it and asked us to do a full EP. So when we got in the studio we have to marry that vibe for our EP.  The 707, 808 & 909 drum work on both tracks gives it that old house sound and the bass lines makes it more current, that’s how it ultimately came together. Michael and I wrote the lyrics and Michael sung the vocals. It took some layering and tweaking to sound right. But even then there was something missing, Mikey suggested Gustaph from Hercules & Love Affair to re-sing the vocals. After Gustaph heard the original vocal he said he loved it and wanted to lay down another part to it. We had no idea what to expect, but when we got the parts from him we were absolutely blown away. Unique in it’s style this EP is a culmination of where we both are now. The way everything came together and found a home with our Culprit boys, we couldn’t be more thankful.

LAC: You both are city boys, did this inspire City Living?

RZ: Yes it definitely did having lived in San Francisco, Berlin, Los Angeles, and now New York. “What U Gonna Do” encompasses vibes as individuals being fresh in a new city, and “Livin’ Off the Wall” is about being in the city and kinda deciding what you’re gonna do for the night. This is a summertime EP about living, staying fresh, getting your back off the wall and keepin’ it movin’!

LAC: You guys have collaborated with some great artists on this EP. Anyone you guys have your eyes on for future endeavors?

RZ: We would love to do a remix, have them remix us or collab with Murk. The sound of this EP especially the drums of “Livin’ Off the Wall” are highly inspired a lot by the Murk sound. A Murk collab would be dope. They are classic housemasters. Also see ourselves working with No Regular Play as we have already collabed with Greg Paulus on couple projects being our first Touch Of Class Records VA Indian Summer compilation called Summer Maddness, and then our Culprit remix “Somewhere Else” from last year.

LAC: Describe this EP in one word.

RZ: One word….I would say RIGOROUS 🙂

LAC: Favorite Los Angeles place to spin would be…

RZ: Attending wise our favorite is The Standard rooftop just cause the outdoor rooftop vibes up there with the right people, and right music is always a good time. Playing wise The LA underground when there was one. Warehouse parties in Los Angeles were always on point. We also had a dope show at No Filter this year. I know it’s not around anymore but the party we had there with Tone of Arc, Navid Izadi, & Jeniluv was super vibey.

LAC: Top 5 DJ’s everyone should be listening to right now…

RZ: DJ’s…. Craig Richards, Dj Three, Robag, Dj Koze, and Dj Harvey are all amazing selectors across a wide spectrum of music

LAC: Recording session traditions?

RZ: We have this thing we started doing every time we go the studio. We go in and for the first 20 – 30 minutes we don’t turn on our laptops. We just jam for 20-30 minutes on our drum machines, synths, no computer, no programming  and it is very therapeutic. A, we always get something really cool we can build off of or B, its practice. We’re doing this process while working on our album and it’s something that we do on our own as well. LEAVE THE LAPTOP ALONE, … for a minute.

LAC: What’s next? When’s the album dropping?

RZ: For our next release we drop another jam on Matt Tolfrey’s Leftroom, again featuring the vocals of Kevin Knapp. The release includes a peak summertime remix by Miguel Campbell and a cinematic techno laced version by Locked Groove scheduled for late July release. We also just finished a brand new collab EP with our boys Ominous. As for our album, we are trying to finish that by late fall but with summer touring and our busy schedules it’s a bit tough. We definitely want our album to be something special and musical. We are working across all genres and inspired by a lot of them as well but hopefully the album will drop early next year.

Can’t wait to see what these boys have in store for us. Make sure to take a listen to Signal Flow’s full EP & follow them on Facebook for up dates on upcoming shows.

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