This post was updated July 31 at 10:00 p.m.
Flamango Bay is nobody’s fool.
The band, composed of Ikaika Gunderson, Georgia Manou and rising third-year global jazz studies student Dash Goss-Post, released their debut EP “The Fool” in May. With Gunderson and Manou on guitar and vocals and Goss-Post playing the drums, their indie pop rock discography explores themes such as gender identity, loneliness and growing up. After originally naming the band “Something and Maybe Everything,” Goss-Post said they decided they needed a simpler, more concise name and came up with Flamango Bay.
“I liked it (the name) because it has a lot of imagery,” Goss-Post said. “You can have a flaming mango, like (a) mango on fire, or a flamingo that has a body of a mango.”
In their songs, Gunderson said, the band loves to experiment with complex musical concepts and combine these elements with a traditional pop sound. Desmond O’shea, a friend and musical collaborator, said the band members draw from a jazz background, adding an unconventional layer to Flamango Bay’s signature indie pop rock aesthetic. For instance, O’shea said the band will use common jazz time signatures – which indicate the number of beats in each measure of a musical piece – and then shift into more traditional pop time signatures reminiscent of a One Direction song.
Gunderson, the lead songwriter of the group, said many of their songs encapsulate their most recent and potent personal experiences, treating each track as a time capsule that captures the group’s evolution. However, Goss-Post said their lyrics often lean toward being cryptic and purposefully vague in his opinion, allowing the band to rediscover the meaning later when they look back at the songs.
With “The Fool,” Gunderson said the five songs on the EP broadly follow the story arc of “The Fool” in tarot card reading, which represents the optimism of new beginnings. Gunderson said “The Fool” can also be about the downsides of being young and the ugly ramifications of brushing aside one’s problems. However, the overall energy of the EP is supposed to be youthful and energetic, Gunderson said.
“We wrote all the songs in our teenage years,” Gunderson said. “The EP definitely reflects that. It’s very young and youthful and fun.”
The five-track EP begins with “Emeralds In The Sky,” which Gunderson said is the most optimistic song on the EP since it addresses the hope of achieving the American Dream through the literary lens of “The Great Gatsby.” The middle three tracks delve into questioning that hope, as “LA” is about knowing in the back of your mind that something is off, while “Lucky Star” and “Bate Kush” break out into a frenzied denial of a grievance. The record concludes with “Fishing For The Sun,” where Gunderson said they accept any hardships and mistakes made in the past.
Despite the EP’s concrete narrative arc, Goss-Post said the band did not develop its storyline until after they chose which of their songs to be on it. They said the band determined the order of the tracks first and then decided on the narrative. This reverse-engineered approach turned out to apply in more than one way on “The Fool,” such as the messages and lyrics reflecting the era of the pandemic despite the fact they were written beforehand.
Goss-Post said collaborating with other musical groups is very important to Flamango Bay, and they have found a lot of support within both the student band and live music community. Although Goss-Post is the only member that is a UCLA student, Gunderson said they feel the music scene at UCLA has been welcoming toward both themself and the band. In the past, Flamango Bay has produced their own shows with other UCLA bands and hopes to perform at more live events.
In the meantime, Goss-Post said Flamango Bay has already recorded some demos and is looking forward to potentially releasing a second EP. Regardless of what they choose to do in the future with the band, Gunderson said they have always meant for their music to be accessible to everyone. Whether it be through personal, reflective tracks about Gunderson’s nonbinary identity or the general idea of finding one’s identity, Goss-Post said Flamango Bay aims to support more female-fronted and queer bands for a more diverse music industry, striving to be as inclusive as possible themselves.
“A big part of our goal as a band is to make a safe space for everyone to enjoy music that usually gets excluded,” Goss-Post said.