Ken CTRL and Derek Adari, who make up electro pop band Flourish, have been causing a stir in Jozi since they headed up-country six months ago. Intriguingly, not only are they band mates, but they’re also lovers.
Ken grew up in Cape Town and studied performing arts. He worked as an actor before spending two years in London performing in the Soho club scene and eventually got into music production.
Derek grew up in East London with music in his blood. He moved to Cape Town to study at UCT where he graduated with a Performer’s Degree in Piano. He has an interest in Eastern medicine, which he took time out to study after several years of teaching music to school kids, here and abroad.
We got to know more about the guys, who will be performing at the upcoming 2012 ClarinsMEN Mambaonline Sexiest Male Celeb Party on Friday 7 December
How did you meet? Give us the dish!
Ken: Censored or uncensored version?
Derek: We actually met online…
K: Our first hook-up was our first date, which was after about four or five months of back-and-forth messaging.
Did you expect to still be together five years later?
K: Yes! But I am a hopeless romantic.
D: FIVE YEARS? This must be the longest one-night stand ever…
Where did the idea of flourish come about?
D: I met Ken when he was performing in Cape Town as Trucker. I was getting into producing music at that time so I suggested we work together. The meanings of ‘flourish’ drew us to the name. It’s a little camp, not too serious. We’ve tried thinking of a better name but we haven’t found anything to top it yet.
K: I love what flourish stands for. I like names to be edgy and dramatic so we bring in the edginess and drama through the music and our performances.
Did you always want to be pop-stars?
D: Did you say porn stars?
K: Honey, I was that little boy singing along to my Pop Shop tape in front of the mirror with my hair-brush mic – sometimes wearing my mom’s heels and lipstick! Being an entertainer is in my blood. I used to round up the household to watch my one-man shows. I wrote plays to perform with my friends. My pre-school report said that I loved to put on puppet shows and tell tall stories, which would go on forever if no one stopped me.
D: Ever the attention whore…
How would you describe your sound?
K: Electro-pop. With a strong 80s homage. It’s party music.
D: Everyone sees it differently, but I describe it as electronic pop. We can’t seem to escape the touch of the 80s.
How do you write your songs? As a couple?
K: We organically form different roles in the process. A song usually starts with us working separately but we always come together. A song can end up sounding totally different to how it started. We love the evolution.
D: It’s like a tennis match. Ken will throw an idea my way. I’ll work on it and throw it back to him. Or vice versa. And it certainly sounds like a match: lots of shouting! But then it calms down and we settle on a direction and nurture it to maturity. So we write our songs… as parents.
You’re openly gay – a rare thing in the SA music scene. Why did you decide to be open about this from the start?
K: We started dating before we started making music together.
D: It’s more about deciding not to be closed about it. We want this to be first and foremost about the music but the music is a product of us so we can only be ourselves and audiences have to take us as we are.
How important, do you think, is it that there are more gay role models in the public eye?
K: It’s super important! Having successful gay role models in the public eye empowers our community and helps combat prejudice.
Why did you move to Joburg? Do you miss Cape Town?
K: Joburg is more us. It’s a metropolis and we have met some fantastic people here. The support and appreciation for what we do has been hugely encouraging.
D: We moved here to grow our music. Jozi is an inspiring, stimulating place – there is so much happening here, the industry is here. We miss our friends and family in Cape Town terribly. But we’re very focused on what we’re doing.
What are the challenges of being a couple and being in a band together?
K: That needs a whole Q&A of its own.
What happens when the groupies come-a-calling?
D: I think the phrase is ‘sharing is caring’…
How have gay audiences received you? Any different from straight audiences?
D: The response has been positive from both. Jozi audiences in particular, gay and straight, have been most encouraging. We want to have the widest appeal possible.
K: We happen to be gay but our music is for everybody. We’re a relatively new band so we’re still discovering who our audience is.
What can we expect from Flourish at the ClarinsMEN Mambaonline Sexiest Male Celeb Party?
D: A good helping of fun and dramattitude!
K: A tight set of four new tracks which we produced since moving to Joburg six months ago, plus two older songs from our debut album.
FAVOURITES – Ken CTRL
Blog: L’Homme Du Jour
Bar/Club: Chukka Churri (CT), Kitcheners & Great Dane in Braamfontein
Restaurant: Willoughbys in CT, Possums in Parkhurst
Holiday spot: Cape Town
Pet: I had a meerkat as a pet once
Food: Asian fusion and sushi (I’m a sushi slut)
City: Johannesburg & London
Fashion designer: Alexander McQueen
Store: Marshall Music
Actor: Too many to mention
Pop icon: Madonna
Exercise: Yoga, dancing
FAVOURITES – Derek Adari
Bar/Club: Great Dane & Kitcheners (JHB), Bubbles Bar (CT)
Restaurant: Any that does Asian or fusion
Holiday Spot: Namaqualand, East Coast and Cape Town
Food: Sushi, dark chocolate
Fashion Designer: Don’t have one!
Store: Garden nursery
Actor/Actress: Julie Andrews
Pop icon: Madonna
Form of exercise: Yoga, Tai Chi
Catch Flourish at the ClarinsMEN Mambaonline Sexiest Male Celeb Survey of 2012 at EDEN in Rivonia on Friday, 7 December. The bash will see the winner of the survey revealed and will also feature DJ Stuart Hillary and Groove Element on the decks. Get all the details here.