Voyage Out (Exploding in Sound)

Contact Jim DeLuca, Jaycee Rockhold about Floatie

Things seem to evolve naturally for Floatie. Friends become bandmates and riffs become albums. “Shiny,” the first song on their debut album says it best, “Some luck, it’s happenstance, or consequence / I guess that’s the way it goes.” The Chicago quartet have been playing shows and making music together in one form or another for nearly a decade, but it wasn’t until 2018 that Floatie came to light. It’s a project that is both exceptionally tight and radiantly enjoyable; the efforts of friends making music with dear friends. While the band made an instant impact at live shows with Ratboys, Pile, Spirit of the Beehive, Peaer, Moontype, Stuck, and more, they’ve done so without recordings or demos. After gaining support in the close-knit Chicago music scene, the band recorded a full length debut at Chicago’s Pallet Sound with Seth Engel at the tail end of 2019, and then the pandemic happened.


That record, Voyage Out, is worth every last moment waited, an album that’s as expansive as it is repetitive and as weird as it is inescapable. Floatie take a visionary approach toward creating music that can feel both tangled and hypnotic, challenging and comforting, all at the same time. Formed by Sam Bern (they/them) and Luc Schutz (he/him), the duo were soon joined by Joe Olson (he/him) and eventually Will Wisniewski (he/him), each member’s contributions fusing together to create a sound that relies as much on austere construction as it does on finding joy in their time spent together. The results of rigid assembly and blissful collaboration often yields results aptly described as mysterious. Floatie offer a tongue-in-cheek view of their creative efforts, noting that “the songwriting process is as arduous as it is mysterious. To discover a riff that we all enjoy playing is a blessing, and to sequence such riffs in such a way as to communicate something as complex and vast as human feeling seems insurmountable at times.”


Voyage Out never fails to share those human feelings, even if often done from a more alien perspective.  In “Catch A Good Worm,” Bern’s voice hovers over taut percussion, urgent guitar and murky synths: “Bright lights spreading vast and wide, beings at the gate / Rewind, cut off their supply, now we can escape.” The search for personal identity and a place in society can be felt throughout songs that dazzle with a somber charm that feels both reflective and wide-eyed to a reality that is more complicated than immediately apparent. Bern expands on the single: “Two options could never represent the complexity of human expression. I think a lot of people could benefit from not having predetermined expectations of themselves in place upon arrival. Sometimes the pressures of challenging these patterns make me think that this is how I was born so that is who I’m meant to be. When the reality is that I can work towards being whoever I want.”


The band tackle questions of personal choice and acceptance over an ever shifting landscape of knotted progressions and dreamy technicality. “Shiny” for instance is “about finding the drive to make choices that will give you self-assurance and help you to feel worthy of others’ companionship. It is about forcing your own luck by committing to your decisions.” It’s in that determined commitment that Floatie reside; with a sound that is layered and involved. Yet the band does so without dissonance and abrasive feedback, instead relying on their mesmerizing connectivity. Voyage Out weaves together riffs and rhythms with an extraterrestrial precision and a cosmic grace.