Holas May & Valley Flaxman unveil IDC, the third single of their impactful ‘Overman’ series. The Adelaide-based duo share their creative inspirations, unique production process and mission to impart hope.
Last week, rapper Holas May and producer Valley Flaxman (real name Dan Linke) captivated us with their new single, IDC. Showcasing a powerful, infectious beat, spirited vocals, an intriguing melody, and raw, riotous lyrics, IDC marks the third installment of their motivational and esoteric ‘Overman’ series. It joins September releases, Push Up Daisies and A Lot to Bear.
The ‘Overman’ series follows the path of the ‘Character’ towards being The Overman – the best version of himself that he can be. The series draws heavy influence from philosopher, Frederick Nietzsche’s “Übermensch” concept, which itself is posed as a goal for all humankind to strive towards in order to become the best versions of ourselves. Valley Flaxman’s Dan tells Happy, “the main message we want our listeners to take away from listening to the music goes back to that realisation of living by your own code.”
The Adelaide-based duo has worked together previously, on Holas May’s 2021 singles, Block Letter and One Win High, both of which are produced by Dan Linke. The ‘Overman’ series sees Linke’s Valley Flaxman pseudonym attached to the productions for the first time.
As Holas May’s Nick and Valley Flaxman’s Dan gear up for the final release of their series, Overman toward the end of November, they invite Happy on their musical and philosophical journey, sharing with us their songwriting process, unique production style, creative influences, and personal mission to maintain forward momentum despite obstacles. As Dan explains, “we just want our listeners to have hope that it is possible to find a way to grow and move forward in a positive manner.”
HAPPY: Thanks for chatting with us! What’s the day been like so far for both of you? What are you getting up to?
NICK (HOLAS MAY): Thanks! It’s been alright so far – just taking it easy and focusing on releasing our latest work!
DAN (VALLEY FLAXMAN): It’s been a good day. I’m onto my third cup of coffee – I think I’ve started to transcend time and space courtesy of caffeine.
HAPPY: Congrats on your new single, IDC. It’s your third release in two months, as part of your “Overman” series. Can you give us some background on what this series is all about, and what messages you hope listeners will take away from it?
NICK: The stories told across the “Overman” series are centred around an entity called the Character, and his own realisation of becoming the “Übermensch,” or in his case, the Overman. IDC is about the Character metaphorically falling through a nihilistic state of mind and giving up all care in the world. This comes after he experiences an identity crisis on A Lot to Bear.
The series took heavy influence from the works of philosopher, Frederich Nietsche and his “Übermensch” concept. “Übermensch” is posed as a goal for all humankind to strive towards in order to become the best versions of ourselves. It’s about the realisation of rejecting the expectations of others, and living by your own moral code. The four songs in the series reflect that heavily.
Push Up Daisies started life as a freestyle, which is why it’s essentially a minute and a half of me spitting bars. It’s about the Character being boastful, king of the world kind of stuff. A Lot to Bear is about the Character’s breakdown of that identity, cracking under the pressure of society. As we already mentioned, IDC is about the Character’s state of mind following that identity crisis, while the final song “Overman” is about reaching a point where the Character comes to realise that he needs to care about what’s important to him – be it values, the best version of himself, whatever. It’s as much about that as it is about recognising that there’s a lot that goes on beyond his control, and that it’s okay to care less about those things.
DAN: The main message we want our listeners to take away from listening to the music goes back to that realisation of living by your own code. The last two and a half years have been some of the most challenging we’ve personally faced in our lifetimes – the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and the ever-increasing cost of living are just some examples of this. While the situation gets worse, we just want our listeners to have hope that it is possible to find a way to grow and move forward in a positive manner.
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HAPPY: What are your songwriting and creative processes like?
NICK: It’s grown into a very fluid process – most of the time, it’s just us sitting in Dan’s home studio coming up with music on the fly! A lot of the process with the music is about finding what works with the lyrics and theme or sounds fun.
DAN: It can range from me emailing Nick an instrumental to write over beforehand, or I can just write something in a matter of minutes for him to work with. Push Up Daisies and IDC are examples of the former, while A Lot to Bear and Overman were songs that were put together very quickly. If Nick’s coming here with an idea of what he wants, it’ll either be “Dan, I need something that sounds like Childish Gambino” or I’ll sit there and construct something that sounds like a Nintendo 64 dying over a trap beat. There’s no in-between.
HAPPY: Tell us about your production and recording styles.
DAN: I’ve worked with Ableton Live as my main software for ten years now – I picked it up when I started studying for a Bachelor of Music at the University of Adelaide in 2012. I actually started off playing in shoegaze bands back in the day, believe it or not! But I slowly shifted towards electronic music production more and more, and started taking it seriously around 2015 when I was in a synth-pop duo called Kimonono. It’s easier to carry a laptop around compared to a guitar, amp, drum kit or whatever else.
After that, I started getting really into collecting hardware synthesisers – I had about eight or nine in my bedroom at one point. These days the few I do have are a Korg Minilogue, a Korg MS2000B and a Make Noise 0-Coast. The MS2000B is all over the “Overman” series – it’s just this incredibly versatile virtual analog synth that has the same engine as the MicroKorg. I picked it up in 2016 after becoming obsessed with Liars and their albums WIXIW and Mess, and I use it on just about anything I write these days.
On the other hand, the 0-Coast is the MVP of Push Up Daisies and IDC. It’s this really amazing semi-modular synthesiser, and I set it up to be squelching and buzzing all over those songs! Musically, I wanted the “Overman” series to be a blend of trap beats and modular synthesis – stuff like Cheetah Bend by Jimmy Edgar was a big inspiration initially, as well as other producers like Sophie, Hudson Mohawke and Flume.
I really like the way electronica, pop and hip hop have intersected over the past decade; they’re all still definable as genres but the sound palettes are denser and deeper than ever. Fred Again… and Headie One’s EP Gang comes to mind, or something like Smoke and Retribution by Flume, where it pivots between Vince Staples’ aggressive verses, Kučka’s ethereal choruses, and some really twitchy square wave synth stuff.
In terms of recording, I prefer to do it all within the comfort of my own home. Usually someone like Nick will come over, we’ll talk a bit of rubbish while I make a coffee, and then we go upstairs, bang out vocal takes or song sketches until we’ve found something we’re happy with, and then I’ll play with it in my own time while I provide Nick with updates on how it’s sounding. It’s a very unique setup because I live in a rental, so I can’t go nuts in terms of soundproofing. I’ve set it up so the vocal recording has as little external noise as possible – which works for the most part. I say most part because when I was mixing the vocals for IDC, I found out that the recordings had picked up bird calls in the mix! We had a laugh about that and kept them in though, because it’s stuff like that which keeps the music down-to-earth.
I don’t think there’s a need to be super pristine when it comes to making music like this. If you get too fixated on why there are “errors” in the audio, then you stop having fun and it becomes a chore.
HAPPY: What suburb are you currently based in? What do you love/not love about where you live?
NICK: I’m in the western suburbs of Adelaide! I love the tight community here, but it’s hard to network with other artists outside the city.
DAN: I’ve lived in Adelaide for about ten years now. Prior to that, I grew up in the Barossa – the Valley Flaxman name actually is the inverse of Flaxman Valley, where my family still lives! Adelaide is a big country town, which is a mixed bag. Good because you can walk from one end of the CBD to the other in half an hour, but also bad because you can’t leave your house without running into your best friend’s sister’s cousin that you met once at a bar on Rundle Street six years ago. I don’t know if that’s actually a bad thing, as much as it is just a symptom of living somewhere that isn’t a sprawling urban mass like Melbourne or Sydney.
HAPPY: What books or TV shows are you really enjoying at the moment?
NICK: I’m reading The Avoidable War by the king, Kevin Rudd! It’s a very interesting read.
DAN: I’m working my way through the entire series of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, as well as watching Harley Quinn with my partner. I’ve never been big on superhero media, but I love the self-awareness that show has. Same reasoning for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, actually. Surrealism is one of my favourite types of comedy.
HAPPY: Tell us about your creative community.
NICK: Adelaide has an amazing creative community. It’s very easy to network here and build up relationships, but unfortunately not a lot of attention or opportunities have been coming over here because of much bigger cities like Melbourne or Sydney.
DAN: It’s been a bit tough in Adelaide over the last few years thanks to the pandemic – also, the fact dancing was outlawed for like a year and a half – but the music community here is so embracing and supportive. I met a lot of fellow musicians through doing the Reclink Community Cup this year, and it was one of the best decisions I’d made in recent memory. Everybody I met through doing that has been in the same boat, and we all just wanted to get back out and do what we love. It’s been great going out to gigs again too – I saw the Backyarders the night before the Queen’s memorial holiday, and it was one of the best shows I’ve been to in a while. Think folk punk filtered through an Australiana lens, but incredibly anthemic. I was humming their tunes for weeks after that.
HAPPY: What’s next for you both? Any new music projects currently in the works? Any more releases on the horizon?
NICK: Our last single in the series, Overman comes out at the end of this month. After that, we’ll just have to see what the future holds for us!
DAN: The Valley Flaxman machine doesn’t stop – I’m already working on a follow-up to my debut EP, Associations, Vol. 1. Volume 2 will feature more Adelaide vocalists and rappers like Pink Wasabi, my partner Ella Heywood-Smith and Nug Chompah on it. I want to release some songs in support of that in the next few months. I also recently contributed a remix with Nug Chompah to the Only Objects remix album, The Nostomanic Cypher Redux that came out last month. I’m also very certain that Nick and I will take some time after the Overman series is wrapped up and figure out what direction we want to head with next.
HAPPY: Thanks so much for your time!
NICK: No worries! Thanks for having us.
Stream IDC via Spotify below.
Interviewed by Amy Davidson.