Q&A: Flint Eastwood Crosses Into The Pop World With New EP & High-Energy Live Show


Photo: Nicole Shackelford

One thing is clear. Flint Eastwood, a.k.a. Jax Anderson, demands your attention–and deserves it. From building a music community in her hometown of Detroit,  to developing a barrier-breaking live show, to releasing a meticulously crafted new EP, she is 100% in it–writing, producing and creating everything herself.

Having already wowed audiences at South by Southwest, drawing comparisons to Bishop Briggs with her genre-bending sound, Eastwood will continue to make a big impact this year, as she prepares to play the Lollapalooza after party with Phantogram and more.

Prior to making her Los Angeles debut at the Echo, Los Angeles, Flint Eastwood spoke with us about the high acclaim of her new Broke Royalty EP, crossover single, "Queen," and collaborations with fellow Detroit musicians Griz and Tunde Olaniran. 

OTW: Tell me the story behind the name Flint Eastwood, where you're from, and how long you've been creating music!

FE: I'm from Detroit, born and raised, and it's a great city. It's such a city of passion and authenticity. It's the birth place to a lot of different genres, which is great. The name Flint Eastwood is a homage to all the Spaghetti Western films I would watch as a kid with my dad. Every Sunday, he'd throw on a Spaghetti Western film and we'd watch it as a family. Eventually, I really got into all the soundtracks, and that was basically my childhood. We've had the name for about five years, but I've been doing music, like actually doing music, for about two years. Like full blown.

OTW: Detroit is a hot bed for music and the arts in Michigan. Tell me about the sense of community you've established and spearheaded in the Detroit music scene and your purpose for making music.

FE: Well I'll start with the reason why I create music. The reason I create music is because I feel like pop music specifically can be such a positive thing in people's lives. I feel like it's such an accessible thing for so many people and for me–I just want to spread a message of positivity. I just want to spread a message of connecting people and my main message is just, "Hey, you can do whatever the fuck you want to do. Whatever that hardship is, you can overcome it and you can make it happen." For me personally, I grew up in Detroit and the community there is tight knit. A couple years back, some artist friends and I pulled all our money together and purchased a church from the 1870s and we created a collaboration space for Detroit artists. It's where I create all my music. It's called Assemble Sound. It's about a mile from downtown, and there's about 25 residents that work out there and help create all our records, and we all write and record together. It's an awesome community. It's very inspiring to be creating in Detroit.

OTW: Tell me about your collaboration with Detroit vocalist, Tunde Olaniran, on "Push." Have you had a chance to perform it live?  

FE: Tunde, first of all, is such an amazing artist. He's got like a three-octave vocal range, a crazy activist, and is such an intentional artist. He's a huge inspiration for me. He works out of Assemble Sound as well. I have an open door policy for all my sessions, where any of the residents that work out of the space can come through. So that day we were working on "Push," we were kind of stuck on a bridge melody, and Tunde came through and started humming along some lines. Our rule is that anytime anybody has an idea, we're like "get on the mic." Even if it's garbage, even if it's trash, just get on. You never know. So he ended up going on there and messing around, singing a few melodies, and we liked it so much that it ended up being on the final track. He's such an easy person to work with and performing it live with him is incredible because Tunde is an amazing live performer. So whenever he enters the scene, it's madness, it's chaos.

OTW: Good job for bringing a fellow Detroit musician on board for the EP! You also featured Detroit producer, GRiZ, on "Rewind." How did you collaborate with GRiZ as a producer and what is the track about?

FE: The back story behind "Rewind" is GRiZ was creating his record, and he had an instrumental that he really loved. So he sent me over the track, and I was like, "Fuck, I have two hours between tour that I will actually be able to be in the studio and write." So I jumped into the studio, and we wrote it in a two hour time frame. It ended up not fitting the vibe of his record, but he liked the song so much that he wanted us to release it. So that was very kind of him. It's basically about the innocence of youth and how easily we fuck things up when we lose that innocence. You get older, and you lose sight of what's important, and I feel like whenever you're young you have this idea of empathy and you have this idea of understanding that you can easily lose as an adult. It's the idea of, "Let's go back to that innocence."

OTW: "Queen" is a massive intro to your sound and the new EP. When I hear it, I think Western movies. I think Clint Eastwood. Tell me about the making of the track and the positive response you received when it was released.  

FE: This song was written about the first time that someone asked me what it's like being a woman in music. For me, I had never seen myself as anything different. I've always been the boss of my art. I've always been the one that is the spearhead. I wasn't asked that question until later when I started making music, so it just kind of drew me back to the question, why would there be an assumption that I would be any different because I'm a woman? This was my response. I'm the "Queen." I'm the one in charge. I'm not a soldier. There's not some higher person that's pulling all the strings. That's all me. I wanted something that sounded mighty, commanding, and punch you in the gut right away, and I feel like that song accomplishes it. It's had a very good response, as far as, our listenership really enjoys whenever I get a little gritty and kick a little ass. Sometimes you got to do it.

OTW: Did you produce "Queen" yourself or with your band mates?

FE: I co-write and produce everything with my actual sibling who always goes by the producer name Sibling. His name is Seth and we created that song together. There's a folk band out of Michigan named The Accidentals that did all the string parts, and there's another band called Michigander–all of the horns were from their horn player. So it was a massive collaboration.

OTW: Speaking of collaborative effort, you co-directed and collaborated with Michigan friends on the music video for "Queen." Where was it shot and what is the message of the music video?

FE: I think the beautiful thing about creating in Detroit is that everything is so accessible, and if you present an idea to creatives, they generally want to hop on board and be a part of something that is fun and exciting. The whole video was made through favors from favorite creative friends. I worked as a video editor for five years before doing music, so I had a lot of friends who had lights and gear and things we could use. I co-directed and edited the piece. I wanted to create a video that matched the intensity of the song. I wanted it to showcase a lot of women in power. I feel like a lot of times music videos tend to miss that. The whole idea is this person is running with a white flag, and it looks like they are about to give up, but then they end up burning the flag and cause chaos, starting a riot by smashing a car a friend donated. It was a cool video, and It was fun to make.

OTW: Let's move on to your sound. Your sound used to be rough around the edges, and now you're transitioning. How would you say your sound has developed into a more pop-focused fusion of different sounds?  

FE: I think coming from Detroit, I get a lot of influences from different places. I mean we were the birth place of techno, the birth place of Grunge Rock, and Motown. We have all of these original sounds that are always around us, so I feel like I'm consistently taking from the people around us. There are also low-key, some amazing pop writers in Detroit, that you may not realize are there. I think from record to record I tend to evolve in that way. I tend to start listening to different genres and producing different things. It has always been a natural evolution. I think the common thread is that I'm a big fan of well-written songs, and I'm always trying to write a good song in its core. The production around it will always change, but I think the common thread is going to be my songwriting. I've always loved pop music. I've always been very enamored by it, and I think with these last two EPs we've really decided to go 100% full force with pop.

OTW: What can we expect from the live performance?

FE: If you attend any of our shows, you will see that I tend to get pretty intense. It's a very intense live show. It's one of those things where you are borderline required to dance and move around. So watch out! I just want to connect people. I want to bring people out of their shell. I think a lot of times people tend to have a certain mindset when they go into a room like, "I'm just going to chill here and watch this," and I like to break that barrier. It'll be fun.


OTW: I see similarities to Bishop Briggs in your sound. She could be playing the KROQ Weenie Roast or she could be playing some pop festival because she has that pop sense and so do you. You both just really crossover to so many genres! 

FE: Yeah! I'm very obsessed with folk music and pop music, and my brother is very obsessed with hip-hop. So we've always landed in those areas of indie, pop and hip-hop. We can blend in wherever we go. Thank you for comparing me to Bishop Briggs. Her voice is ridiculous. It's so good! 

OTW: Last question: who are you top Ones to Watch right now?

FE: Manatee Commune - An amazing artist/producer from the Northwest that was actually just on tour with Bishop Briggs. I've done some tracks with him, and he's so good. He's flown under the radar for so long. He's incredible live, a really easy guy to be around, really fun and kind of nerdy and adorable in the same way.

Tunde Olaniran is really good, and is a huge part of the Detroit Music community.

Nydge - An amazing producer coming out of Detroit that's fantastic. He does a lot of featured vocals.

Those are the ones!