Temo Molina Flips His Sound On Its Head With Debut Solo Album

Anyone familiar with the dreamy electro-prog-shoegaze of Long Beach band Flying Hand is also wonderfully familiar with the spacious playing of singer and guitarist Temo Molina, a still-largely undiscovered and certainly under-appreciated local artist who has spent the 15 years of his career thus-far baring his soul through music.

He puts out his second solo album this week, A Little Stoned a Little Hungry, the follow-up to 2016’s Sundowning, and, while it might feel that he’s still fresh to the scene at the relatively tender age of 29, he’s been performing live since he was 15.

“I’ve played in a bunch of bands – there was this band Sybil,” Molina says. “I was in that group for eight years. After that, I stopped playing in bands for a while, and then around 2012 I started playing in Flying Hand which, at the time, was me and my friend Christian Orozco. Then I started doing some solo stuff because I was writing a lot. It was too many songs for that band, so I started writing and recording songs on my own. C-Gak (Chris Tsagakis) used to play with the RX Bandits, and he also runs [the label] Headphone Music. That’s how we started collaborating.”

Molina describes his own style as a combination of soul, funk, jazz, hip-hop and progressive rock, which sounds ambitious and even outlandish until you actually sit and listen to the musical tapestries that he creates. His solo material and that of Flying Hand is on the same plain of existence, the only difference being the level of collaboration.

“I think when I take full creative freedom to do whatever I want, I end up doing it for my own stuff,” Molina says. “When I have a small idea, that I know is good but I haven’t finished it and I’m seeking collaboration on it, I’ll bring it to Flying Hand and then we’ll jam on it and eventually it’ll take shape. Andy will contribute and add bass lines, and the next thing you know it’ll become something completely different because they got their hands on it. When I’m feeling a little more selfish, I’ll keep it for myself.”

Always the prolific songwriter, Molina occasionally hides a song away for future solo albums until, eventually, he has enough stored like some musical squirrel, and he can dig them up again.

“With this record, I had like 30 songs but I didn’t want to release all 30,” he says. “Chris (Tsagakis) pushed me to finish some of the songs that I wasn’t going to do anything with because I felt they needed a lot of work. He was really stoked on them and so I sent him a few songs and he did some mixes, remixes, and then we had a double album. I have the digital album that I did completely by myself that’s called A Little Stoned a Little Hungry, and then the vinyl which [called Sound & Fury] we’ll release this Wednesday — that was a collaboration between Chris and myself. He added vibes and drum beats, and mixed it a bit. He wanted me to release it under my name, but it was definitely a collaboration.”

Molina met RX Bandits drummer and Headphone Records owner Chris Tsagakis in the bathroom of Harvelle’s in downtown Long Beach after C-Gak had played a set. They got talking, and that led to some jamming. Future collaborations were a no-brainer, and their working on this new solo album has left Molina feeling reinvigorated. C-Gak, too, is psyched with the musical relationship.

“I’ve known for him for a while and I’ve heard him play acoustic with a lot of different projects,” says Tsagakis. “There’s always this cool, other-worldly vibe to it. I’m interested in any artist where it sounds like their soul. I felt like I could see inside his soul, so I had to work on music with him. This is the chance to get a real album out.”

As well as the album, Molina and Tsagakis worked together on a video for the song “Flip It On Its Head,” with Tsagakis storyboarding and directing it. It’s a slow-burn of a tune, and the video sees Molina walking slowly while shit gets thrown at him. That was Tsagakis’ vision.

“As soon as I heard it, I started having visions in my head, as strange as it may sound, of him getting beaten up in slow motion,” says Tsagakis. “It’s a slow, pleasant, mellow song with a smooth vibe. I thought that juxtaposition would be cool and it went from there. It comes to a climax and at the end he’s getting buried. It wasn’t a storyline that I had in mind, it was a progression of event. Obviously, he wasn’t really getting beaten up. It’s silly things like water balloons and plastic balls. I’m not violent but I was raised on Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies. I have these thoughts but I want to take a comedic approach.”

Both are happy with the final results; Tsagakis might wish that he had a bigger budget, but he’s pleased with the job he did, while Molina feels that the visuals sit comfortably alongside the song. It’s all part of the ongoing Temo Molina story and, with A Little Stoned a Little Hungry, set to drop, both he and Tsagakis can be delighted with their work.

Molina hopes to tour the record in December or January, tough he remains busy with Flying Hand too. For the listeners and fans, that can only be good thing. Both that band and Molina’s solo work are worthwhile concerns, the records a fascinating way to spend an hour. The more he creates, the happier we’ll be.

Temo Molina performs tonight (vinyl release for Sound & Fury with Apollo Bebop and Cesar Saez at the Wayfarer, $8 p.m., $5. For full info, click here.

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