The Flavr Blue defines itself by not being definitive.
Moving between the realms of electronic dance music and pop-leaning rap, between Seattle and L.A., between producing other artists and creating its own music—whatever it does, the group is a lesson in refusing to be boxed in.
"Exploration has always been at the forefront of everything we do," says singer Hollis Wong-Wear. "We never walked in being like, 'We want to be like this band.' We don't quite know where we fit in the grand scheme, but we know what's brought us all together is our desire to experiment and learn about ourselves through the music."
Although associated with Seattle's hip-hop scene—Wong-Wear was nominated for a Grammy for her songwriting and vocals on Macklemore's "White Walls," while singer-producers Lace Cadence and Parker Joe were members of Clockwork and State of the Artist, respectively—the sound of the Flavr Blue is closer to ethereal, danceable soul, with driving '80s synths underscoring Wong-Wear's broad, seemingly effortless vocal range.
One of the rising groups in the Emerald City music scene, the Flavr Blue suddenly went national last December, albeit for reasons largely unrelated to its music. After an article in The Seattle Times referred to her as a former "sidekick" of Macklemore's, Wong-Wear wrote a response about how the headline reinforced the marginalization of Asian-Americans, whose role in media is often "to bolster the white male hero."
"There's a difference between being thoughtful about how you frame someone, and casting them in a way that shows they're only important because they're connected to someone famous," she says.
Wong-Wear's response to the article wasn't her first political action. She has contributed essays to Jezebel, is on the board of the Seattle Arts Commission, comes from a spoken-word background and has given talks at Planned Parenthood and the YMCA and shared stages with Gloria Steinem. But the Flavr Blue isn't a political band, and Wong-Wear doesn't want it to be.
"I am so politically active, the Flavr Blue is a really rad place to let my emotions bleed and that humanity breathe," she says. "To me, it always feels a lot more authentic if those opportunities are more organic than strategic. So for me, with this project, I'm not thinking, 'How are we going to politicize our musical content?'"
Whether it happens organically or strategically, the decision is entirely up to the band. Although a manager may soon become essential, Wong-Wear emphasizes that the band is in no hurry to give the reins to someone else. After all, she's proved more than capable of handling anything that comes the band's way.
"We'll never not be DIY in a certain sense," she says. "We've all been doing this for several years, so we're not just going to jump on the first label deal or management opportunity that comes our way. We still want to be in the driver's seat."
SEE IT: The Flavr Blue plays Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., with Heartwatch and Blossom, on Thursday, March 10. 8 pm. $10 in advance, $12 day of show. 21+.