As soon as Flock Together launched in 2020, they were the talk of the town. “In the first twelve months we were everywhere,” says co-founder Ollie Olanipekun. It’s not a brag, but more matter-of-fact; after launching in 2020, the London-formed birdwatching group for people of colour launched collabs with brands like Timberland and FILA, attracting press attention from the likes of Vogue, GQ and, of course, THE FACE. The momentum was strong, and they quickly evolved with international chapters in New York, Toronto and Tokyo.
Now, to celebrate Earth Day – the global annual event which supports environmentalism – Flock Together are funnelling their adventures into sound. The group have released a three-part, fifteen-track EP series Taste the Sky. Field recordings of birdsong and running water collected on walks lie behind spoken word, emotive raps, tender ambient production and soothing hip-hop beats.
Every Flock Together project is created with six key pillars in mind – building community, challenging perceptions, showing the benefits of nature, championing ecological protection, offering mental health support, and providing creative mentorship.
“It’s really important for people to understand we aren’t a traditional offering in the slightest, we’re a platform for new ideas,” Olanipekun tells me of Flock Together’s new musical venture. “So I was really keen to explore what we could do in that space; something experimental, but really aligning with one of our key pillars – creative mentorship.”
Artist manager, A&R and DJ Theo Motive helped assemble Taste the Sky and source artists by tapping into Flock Together’s own networks, which isn’t too difficult when a lot of of your attendees tend to be rather cool, creative and talented: ranging from their bases in New York, Tokyo and London, the EPs feature artists like rapper Remy Banks and Tokyo’s MJ The Sensei, while close to home acts such as like Earbuds and South West London MC Kam-Bu add their flair to the work.
Appearing on two tracks on the London EP is singer and spoken word artist Anu, who joined Flock Together after assisting in a poetry-based campaign they’d done with Timberland. “I’m really in agreement for what Flock stands for as an organisation and what they do for so many people by giving them a space where they feel welcome, appreciated and accepted,” she says.
On the vulnerable track Behind Her Eyes, Anu addresses the topic of mental health struggles, over a delicate beat which is decorated with what sounds like a trickling stream and birds tweeting. “One of Flock’s six pillars is the benefits of nature,” Anu says. “I took that into consideration by immersing myself into it in order to feel creatively inspired.”
With a multi-sensory immersive launch event due to be announced soon, Taste the Sky continues some of Flock Together’s long-term passions: improving collective mental health for people of colour, and exploring how our minds are aided by interacting with the living world. “We want people to be able to listen in and tune out,” Olanipekun says. “This project is really about helping people tap into nature, and using it to tap out of the day-to-day struggles we all face living in Babylon.”
“Nature is the backdrop for absolutely everything,” he continues. “And I really hope we help people see a space for themselves within nature, and nature within you.”