Flynn Collins who’s known by his stage name Flynninho is one of the biggest names in house music coming out of Chicago. The 25-year-old DJ and producer has been on fire lately dropping huge releases and booking a performance at North Coast Festival where he’ll play alongside some of the biggest names in dance music. With roots embedded in genres like g- house and bass house mixed in with his love of old school punk, rock, and grunge, Flynninho’s high energy, in-your-face style is unparalleled.
A true modern-day Rockstar, Flynninho is quickly becoming a household name in electronic music and is set to have a breakout year in 2021. The Daily Frequency sat down with him to discuss his new Evanescence remix, the music industry, and a whole lot more!
Check out the full interview below!
First of all congratulations on booking North Coast! It’s such an insane lineup how does it feel to have the opportunity to play alongside such big names?
Thank you so much for the congratulations and for having me on to be interviewed! It really is mind-bending for me to think about this year’s North Coast. Being part of this year’s lineup in the first festival back from COVID, alongside so many of Chicago’s best artists and massive tour artists who have inspired me in my music and my pursuit of my dreams is honestly super humbling. A lot of these artists, such as Wax Motif and NGHTMRE, I have seen live at shows and festivals- now we are playing the same festival together! I am still kind of processing it all but what I can say is this- it definitely is a moment that kind of leaves me both speechless but also validates my dreams and all the work I have been putting in to make sure that my vision becomes a reality. I think when the moment comes to finally play though, I know I will just enjoy the moment, all that it is, and rock out with everyone there who comes to our set! The coolest part of it is the amount of people (friends, family, artists) that have reached out to me since the lineup drop telling me that they bought tickets just to see me!
So how did you get into producing? Do you come from a musical family or is it something that you gravitated towards on your own?
My story is unique in the sense that I actually planned on playing and being around soccer forever- I played at the highest level, thought I would maybe start a soccer agency after my career had ended! I grew up with music around me every day! My dad was a rockstar doing alternative and rock during the 90s and my mom was super into house music. While being brought up around music, I had never planned on walking into music production, DJing, and performing. I did choir, grew up singing, having rap battles with my little brother (who is actually a fantastic rapper and lyrical poet) but I never planned on pursuing it fully or making a career out of it. It was only when I hit college and went to my first music festival, Spring Awakening 2015, where I really started to fall in love with EDM and would be thinking to myself ‘Mannnn, I would absolutely crush it if I was up there and knew how to do all of it!’ I would be blasting dubstep, house, trap, or future bass every day during soccer workouts, but it was only really after soccer was starting to look like it was coming near an end that I ended up running into Nick Mazzei (NIICK NIICE) and Kyle Garcia who I had seen crush a festival set in Iowa as WITNESS the year before. I ended up chatting them up, fangirling about how good their set was, and eventually, they invited me out to their events they were starting as Be Nice Collective. I came out, joining Be Nice Collective as the intern, and became tight with the other artists who also were part of it. AYOO (another bass house duo who is on North Coast’s lineup), DJ Pharaoh, and NIICK NIICE pushed me to start DJing and make music at the end of 2017- fast forward to now in 2021 and I am full throttle into what I’m going to be doing the rest of my life! Ironically, I recently found an old homework assignment from when I was five where I had written that I was ‘going to be a rockstar and in the NFL’ so shout out to five-year-old me for predicting that I was born to have careers in football (the one where you actually use your feet though) and in music!
Transitioning from pro soccer to DJing is definitely out of the ordinary! Is there anything that you’ve taken from your days on the field that you can apply to your music career?
I feel like I’ve lived a few lives in this lifetime already at 25, so I am grateful that I have been able to experience so many different things so early on. The mentality between soccer and music is strikingly similar- without my soccer career, I don’t know if I would be as successful in my approach to music as I have been. Taking lessons and mindsets like pushing through your mental barriers to make the impossible happen, never giving up even when you feel your body will, and pushing through adversity are all things that have done wonders in preparing me for what my music career has and will entail. Making it at the highest level requires discipline in either art form. This may mean you are not going to that party you get invited to so you can sleep, you can’t hang out with people all the time because you need to invest it in working on your craft, or that you are going to miss holidays with family so you can grind with your passion. The main idea with all of those in soccer and in music is crucial- you have to be able to get it done, sacrifice when you need to while also not sacrificing parts of yourself essential to you. It isn’t a super sexy answer, but the time will never be right to go for something like your dreams- if you aren’t willing to find a way to succeed when it isn’t exactly the way you picture it in your head, how will you respond?
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
In terms of overall music tastes, I would say that I listened to almost everything growing up- everything from the Backstreet Boys and Ludacris to Motley Crue and Sum41. I remember in a single day I would bump music like Blink182 and Fall Out Boy and follow it up with Mac Miller and Freddie Gibbs and it would all hit- I guess you can say I was already curating the style I DJ like! I’ve always connected with the rock and roll, grunge, and pop-punk music that I grew up with harder than anything else. I remember watching the movie Dirt on Netflix and thinking to myself ‘That’s literally every vibe that makes sense to me!’ With all that being said, nothing has ever hit as hard as EDM- particularly dubstep and bass house. The earlier music I put out has clear undertones of Malaa, Joyryde, and Jauz while more recently artists like Saint Punk, Julian Jordan, and Seth Hills have been really influencing my house sound and been doing some amazing things. However, this year I have been returning to my roots and using everything from Evanescence and Motley Crue that I grew up on to Kayzo and Pixel Terror as inspiration.
You just underwent a complete rebrand. What is the thought process behind your new vision and what’s the end goal?
This has been in the making for two years, so I am glad the shift has finally started! I am a person who prides on being true to myself and pushing others to do the same- for better or worse, I have always grown up marching to my own beat and really have refused to be anything but me. The thinking behind the rebrand wasn’t as much of a rebrand as much as it was getting my music’s sound and my brand’s image to be as close to reflect who I am on the daily while also accurately portraying past events I have experienced. I think that a lot of people feel like they have to live this perfect life because of social media and it is almost like a competition as to who can have the best life ever. It would drive me crazy because when I would see this, I would reflect back and see that every moment of my life hasn’t been beautiful- there are plenty of negative moments to match the positive ones and both have their places in my life. I have seen so many artists crumble early on because of this pressure to be releasing the best tracks of their life while also playing the biggest gigs of their careers out of the gate- the reality is that you have to start somewhere and it is not all rainbows and amazing times with amazing people. So, since there are a lot of tough moments that test you and help you grow, ultimately I am just being as vulnerable as I can be about the good and the bad that actually goes on so that way the next generation of artists do not have to feel the same anxieties I have. The whole point is to be happy and fulfilled by pursuing your dreams- this is for me another step in the right direction to ultimately better myself and those around me.
You’ve been open about manifestation and actualization. How important is it to visualize your goals?
Manifesting and actualizing is something that was instilled into me by coaches, sports performance experts, and psychologists during my soccer career that has never left my way to go at my life and dreams. The human mind is really an incredible and terrifying thing- it has the ability to do anything and push us through anything we need it to while also being able to tear you apart. The biggest question you have to ask yourself is this; If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, why would anyone else? The biggest thing I tell myself and others who want to be successful has always been this ability to manifest and actualize things into a reality. Believing in something that isn’t there yet is a very hard thing for many to perceive, yet I have found if you believe in it that badly, constantly put it out there that it will happen and work hard to match that belief via tangible goals, you will always be building towards your vision and end up exactly where you need to be!
You portray yourself as a modern-day Rockstar. Do you feel like that old-school rockstar mindset is something that is missing in music nowadays?
Abso-f**king-lutely (pardon my french). I really don’t know when it happened in music that was on the radio, but within the last two years in EDM especially, a lot of music lost this feeling that was so synonymous with the tracks that artists like CRANKDAT, NGHTMRE, Tchami, and Jauz were putting out. I remember when Jauz dropped ‘Feel The Volume’ and how insane the feeling was of hearing it played out versus some of the music that has been being released today. I don’t want to say it is because so many people want to be artists and DJs- I think music being open to everyone and more accessible/affordable to people who couldn’t afford to make music is genuinely beautiful. I think it more so has to do with artists being afraid to do something different if it means less streams, less followers, and it doesn’t follow a trend like the current slap house/deep house remix of an old song trend that has been going on for almost the entirety of quarantine. For myself, the rockstar mentality to make and release what you want while not really focusing on making music everyone will like or being something everyone will like is something that is lost. Saint Punk actually put up a post on Instagram recently that said “Been doing it my way from the beginning and this year is no different.” That is my exact way of thinking, a rockstar mentality that is raw and real that is focused on being true to themselves and being uncompromising in that. When you think like that, the music you make as an extension of you will connect with who it’s supposed to, and I think that in itself is the most beautiful thing.
It’s common today to see a lot of remixes of the same songs which in turn becomes repetitive. You on the other hand go outside the box with the songs you choose to remix. What attracts you to remix something like Kickstart My Heart by Mötley Crüe?
I always say to myself that if I hear a remix of a song that I am thinking of remixing myself that I love already, why would I make another one? An example is the song SICKO MODE. We all know the Skrillex remix of it which is banging, but I thought I could do something different. I go searching for other remixes of the song and stumble upon the remix Guy Arthur did of SICKO MODEit’s probably one of the top five sickest tracks I have ever heard in my life, so creative, and it is a track I have played out regularly. At that point, there is no point to do a remix of something I have already found that I really, really connected with. Deciding on and remixing a track for me goes through a checklist: 1) I really like the original track and it resonated with me. 2) I can honor the original track’s identity and feeling while also bringing a new identity that elicits both the feeling you get when hearing that original and brings new feelings to hearing the remix. 3) There aren’t 1000 remixes of it already and there isn’t a remix I would play out already. Those that are now out that I have done, specifically my KCKSTRT MY HRT and BRING ME TO LIFE remixes, I feel check all of those boxes and are both songs that really hit with me growing up. I am super thrilled with how both turned out and honestly I am happy to give both those tracks a second life to remember the feelings that came with hearing those but in a brand new way. Old-school feeling with a new school take on it if you will!
On your Sherm In The Booth episode, you talk about not settling into producing a genre that comes easy to you. How important is it to push your boundaries creatively and work outside your comfort zone?
Since I grew up with so many different musical tastes and DJ so many different types of places in Chicago, while I do maintain my own identity and sense of self, one of the biggest things to me has been to not be open to different types of music, people, and places that I or others may not think that I match up with. In the club circuit, during my sets, I am dropping BadBunny, Drake, and Calvin Harris all in one set- all have connected with me in some way so finding ways to make it all fit together is the fun part! I am super energy, wild, and someone who loves to have fun, while at the same time I am also intense, deep, and can feel the weight of the world and those around me. I would like to think everyone has different layers to them, so music shouldn’t be any different. Most of my music for the most part gives you that intensity, wild, fast, and dark in different forms genre-wise. Sometimes I want to be on my sad-boy vibes and make something that is just emotional and vibey, while other tracks are straight aggression and wild. Both are parts of me, so I want to be able to bring both and have a space to convey every part of me!
I love your style. It is aggressive, in your face, and full of energy. You really developed a sound of your own. When did you feel like you finally found your lane?
I feel like you have just nailed it on the head better than anyone else!!! Honestly, the first track that really nailed what I was trying to do was when MURDEROUS dropped on SWUTCH. It was the first time I was able to bring all the elements together of what my sound’s foundation. I think like a person grows and evolves, an artist’s sound should do the same. I remember when I started, I definitely leaned into the plucky, early Malaa/Matroda basslines and jackin’ house percussion with a dark, yet fast pace to back it up. A lot of this year’s songs that set to drop this year feature repeating bass shots found in STMPD style future/bass house, maintaining the same intensity and aggressive darkness in the drops while also channeling more emotion into my breakdowns. I am super excited for it all to come out!
You just released a massive Evanescence remix of Bring Me to Life with your mentor Got Lucky. As a young artist how important is it to learn from someone like that and how does it feel to release a track together?
Alex has been a game-changer for me, mentoring and believing in me the same way I do while also giving feedback and new ideas that I normally wouldn’t normally think about. Learning from him, having him as a resource to lean on, looking up to him, and gaining a best friend in the process is the best possible outcome I could’ve ever imagined and I really am so grateful for him taking the time to be a huge part in developing as an artist. Having someone who you can relate to, connect with both as a person and an artist, is so important because there are times where being an artist can feel isolating, lonely, frustrating, and almost aimless when you aren’t seeing the immediate results of it. Having him there to push me to keep going, to keep growing, and to use as a sounding board makes it a lot easier to stick it out and to go for it all. You can imagine that being able to be working and collaborating with him is pretty rewarding for me- the fact that we could create something so amazing together with him is super humbling and only validates all the work we have both been putting in! He’s an idol of mine, his music is awesome, and it’s amazing that our friendship has translated to a moment like this.
The pandemic flipped everyone’s life upside down. How hard was it to cope with such an abrupt lifestyle change and how were you able to push yourself through?
Honestly, it was one of the hardest things to ever go through. Seeing everything just be paused after grinding for my dreams and performing every day resulted in a huge emotional, mental, and psychological shift that demanded me to adjust quickly. There have been moments of darkness that no one anticipated having to cope with while true moments of beauty have also came about that have to be appreciated, even more than any of us ever have. Personally, I was right on the cusp of having some massive things- things that would have opened up some massive doors- that unfortunately had to be canceled. I’ve lost loved ones during this time that I wish were still here and financially and emotionally struggled heavily over quarantine, but I think knowing that I wasn’t the only one in this boat made me want to keep releasing, keep creating and not just let everything I worked for pause too. The impact of my own work ethic not stopping, instead evolving, to work within the current times I hope pushed people to do the same. My best friends, my family, my peers truly held it down for me, and together we were able to be there for each other and foster a community of artists and DJs that normally wouldn’t get to connect- being part of that was a key motivator to know that I had to keep going too!
You have an intense work ethic. You were playing 7 shows a week before covid, can fans expect more of the same once everything fully opens up?
Oh hellllll yeah! I loved playing every single night- I fully expect to be doing the same once the current times allow it. I am working on some things to ensure that I get to bounce around a bit more and play all over, so we will see what the future holds!
From the outside looking in the music industry is full of glitz and glam but the reality is it can be a cutthroat business. What advice would you give a new DJ just starting out?
The reality is that while it can be glamorous, rewarding and a giant party, it also is just as ruthless in the sense that you can be the next biggest thing one moment, and then you can be cast aside if you aren’t constantly working to improve at the top. It’s hard to give advice because everyone’s situation is different, but one thing that I think translates across all walks of life is this notion of holding yourself fully accountable for everything that happens and that everything that you do. You can only do that once you take the time to fully understand what you are and what you are not. It is really easy to point fingers at everyone else as to why something didn’t happen or why something went wrong for you. What starts to happen is you stop blaming everyone else for the bad, you focus in on what you can and what you can’t control, and your dreams are then fully in your hands to make it happen. You will be in control of your destiny, less angry at other people, and more in-tune with yourself. It improves your appreciation when others do a solid for you, lessens your resentment towards others, and gives you a perspective of exactly where you stand. You owe it to dreams and yourself, to be honest with the work you put in and where you are so, only furthering you in your pursuits to grow.
Lastly, when it’s all said and done what would you want your legacy to be?
I live by this: At the end of the day, I want to be a great person first, and a great artist second. Music is my platform to really connect, motivate, and inspire others towards acceptance and love of everyone, myself included. I express myself as hard, true, and vulnerable as I do so others feel like they can do the same. Even when performing, the show isn’t me- it is everyone who is there- light guys, dancers, security, and the crowd- we all make the show happen together. The only thing I am doing is acting as a conductor to curate the moments we all get to experience together. It doesn’t matter what your race is, your sexuality is, or what your upbringing is- you can do whatever you want in this world if you’re willing to grind for it and believe in it. There is a place for everyone here. I strive to be much more than just an artist at the end of the day. I want to make the world and those feel what I feel every time I am performing- love, freedom, and alive. I want them to remember why life is so worth getting through the lows we all face so we can feel these highs life has to offer. Music saved my life, and all I want to do is give that love, gratitude, and opportunity back to everyone around me. My music is the physical result of that. If I only inspire one person to not give up, to love instead of hate, to fight for their dreams whatever they may be, and to know that it’s okay to be whoever you are, then I have done my part. I want to look back and know that I made my mark using my platform to the best of my abilities, made those around me the best they could be, stayed open and honest no matter what it may have been, learned from my mistakes, and loved as hard as I could. When you bring that to every show, every time you perform, you’ll end up where you need to be. (: