Flossing, aka Heather Elle, formerly of BODEGA/The Wants, who announced her debut solo EP, Queen of the Mall, for a September 10 release via Brace Yourself Records, with a first, BDSM-inspired single “Switch” last month. Matt Wilkinson debuted the track on his Apple Music 1 program at the 24:55 mark, calling Heather, “one of my favourite New Yorkers in music at the minute.” DIY called the track, “a hypnotic debut single.”
With Flossing, Elle presents a hedonistic siren call through the Web 4.0 ether with provocative ideas of identity and connection in an isolated and unhinged western society. As the only child of a social psychologist and occupational therapist, Elle is all about getting between your bones and seeing what she can pull out. Feelings of frustration and yearning permeate the ominous-yet-buoyant groove of debut single “Switch,” where she admits, “I am both scared of and intrigued by the deviant nature of man.”
Tell us about the genesis of Flossing. How did you get to where you are now?
If I’m remembering correctly, I caught the J to the A train to downtown Brooklyn where I’m currently highly caffeinated at my gym.
Flossing was created in 2020 after a few years of intense touring in both BODEGA & The Wants, the first groups I’d ever been in that weren’t my own. The transition from chaos to quiet made me realize that I needed to start prioritizing myself and my ideas again. It took a lot of purging, solitude, and manifestation.
Tell us about Queen of the Mall and how it came about.
My mom passed away before the heavy touring began in 2018, so the name of the EP came to me after discovering an old photo of myself at The Mall of America while rummaging through her collection of family photos this past winter. Her side of the family lives in Minneapolis, MN where this strange gigantic establishment exists. I mean, it has an indoor rollercoaster if the rest isn’t nauseating enough! It’s a funny photo because I’m barely tall enough to stick my head through this wooden cut-out of a literal queen with her purse and shopping bag.
This one photo made me realize how much time I actually spent in malls and department stores as a kid, especially with my mother, who frequently had a QVC package waiting for her on our front porch. It was always some piece of clothing or jewelry, and growing up as a tomboy, I always felt unsettled by women’s prioritization of decorating the body over putting it into action. Girls at school would care about such things too, and I would always think, ‘shouldn’t we be out climbing trees and exploring the woods instead of caring whether our ears are pierced or legs are shaved?!’
Musically speaking, I’ve been a singer-songwriter and bassist ever since I turned eighteen, so I’m always sitting on lots of ideas, often for so long that I forget they exist. I’ve been trying to get better at regularly sifting through my old material, so the songs that made the final cut for this EP are a bunch of misfit singles I wrote over the last handful of years that I couldn’t keep neglecting. The hooks kept buzzing around my head like mosquitoes.
How would you describe the highs and lows of being an artist?
Very much that —high and low. Music is the medium that makes me happiest, but it was substantially devalued by society right before I got into it. Having a few projects going that scratch different itches definitely helps as they feed and destroy my ego in a variety of ways. I’m now at a point in my career where idols of mine are asking to work with me which feels absolutely incredible; however, I’ve accepted that I’ll likely have to take random odd jobs forever and ever. As long as I keep myself involved in music to some capacity, I should be okay. It’s when I stop or am cut off from music completely that I don’t feel like myself.
What’s a musical guilty pleasure of yours?
I’ll honestly never get tired of the song “Faded” by 90’s deep-cut boy band Soul Decision. Lyrically it would likely be considered problematic by some now, but I love the bass line, the instrumentation, and production. The song is about nothing new — a guy who’s hoping to be more than just friends with a girl and scheming/fantasizing about how to make it happen. The first phrase on the unedited version is, “When I get you all alone / I’m gonna take off all your clothes / Ain’t nobody gonna interrupt my game!”
What are some sources of inspiration for you?
Lately it’s been passively studying evolutionary psychology and how the history of human evolution can explain why we think and behave the way we do in the modern world. The book ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Hurari completely changed my worldview a few years ago, and it was a book that 3+ members of BODEGA had on tour at one point.
Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?
I recently discovered Pauline Anna Strom, an 80’s synthesist pioneer from California. She was born blind and would have her synth manuals ritualistically read to her by her doorman and friend, John Jennings. And if that isn’t interesting enough, she’d often record pieces in just one take alongside her pet reptiles. I wish I could’ve seen her perform, but she recently passed away.
Favorite activity to blow off some steam?
The steam room! Totally serious. But also swimming laps. I was a competitive swimmer from four to nineteen years old, which I’ve recently discovered has musically informed me more than I thought. It feels great to get lost in a loop of water and chlorine and just focus on breath, movement, and speed.
What are some things you do to deal with anxiety and creative blocks?
Is this secretly an intake form for a psychiatry ward?
I’d say turning off all technology or leaving your phone at home is a good start. Try to reconnect with nature or an activity you loved as a kid. Maybe try on a dress and dance around, or eat an edible and take a bath. Give yourself permission to be playful and exploratory and messy. You’ll likely surprise yourself. Don’t worry if nothing concrete comes out of it, either. Cut yourself some slack.
What’s the future looking like for you?
Yikes, I don’t know!
What inspires your visuals, videos, looks etc?
Experimenting with masculine/feminine/other energy, psychological thrillers, fixation with technology, BDSM, advertisements, music videos from the 80’s & 90’s, etc. The director I work with the most, Devan Davies-Wood, is very much inspired by the David’s — Lynch & Fincher.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
That I should smile more! Only kidding.
My dad, who’s a social psychologist, recently told me some excellent advice. When you’re going through an intense personal transformation, like I recently have been, disappointing others and letting good people go is inevitable. You’re hopefully making room for something better. This is a great reminder if you’re a huge empath and people-pleaser like me.
Where do you think the music and entertainment industry is headed after this past year?
It’s hard to say. This is a moment in history that we need artists to interpret more than ever, because politicians in charge don’t seem to care to learn from our past mistakes. The western world has so many disgusting pathologies that would heal more quickly if we prioritized funding for the arts and healthcare. Hopefully the music industry will unionize in my lifetime and demand fairer pay.