It fit perfectly that Flora Cash, husband and wife duo Cole Randall and Shpresa Lleshaj, would make their NYC social media debut at SoundCloud headquarters. The two met via the streaming service in 2012 and began a transatlantic love affair, falling in love first with each other's music.
Randall and Lleshaj recently released their full length album, Nothing Lasts Forever (And It's Fine), to rave reviews. Soon after, they agreed to appear for the first #SoundCloudSweethearts episode. We had the privilege of meeting them at the SoundCloud office for an impromptu interview, where they played a game live on Instagram for fans to find out who knew each other best. In the end, it was a tie and the two are the true definition of a modern day love story.
EARMILK: So you met through this streaming platform in 2012, does it feel as though things have come full circle now that you're here today?
SHPRESA: Yes, actually. It's really exciting to be here.
COLE : Yes, we've always made a point of telling the story with SoundCloud as a major part. We don't generically call it a "streaming service" when we talk about it because we're so grateful that the platform existed, and for us to be able to meet.
EARMILK: How do you think the dynamics of your romantic relationship enhance the music you create together?
SHPRESA: It's hard sometimes, of course. But it does effect it a lot, in both good and bad ways. Sometimes tension builds up, and then you write a song.
COLE: I would say part of the problem with being romantically involved is that you tend to have a lot of honesty in a relationship, and sometimes brutal honesty is not helpful for artistic collaborations.
COLE: If we were just collaborating musically, I think we would be a little more reserved about criticism when we're both writing. Sometimes the relationship angle makes us too honest, and that can lead to some conflict.
COLE: But ultimately, it's great fuel for the songwriting process. Everybody wants to sing about relationships, and it comes straight from a real place with us.
EARMILK: You're described your music as "therapy" in the past, do you feel as though you write more about the darkness than the light?
SHPRESA: I think both, the dark and the light.
SHPRESA: I think so.
COLE: I would say when we first started working together we were writing very happy love songs. It was during the honeymoon phase, and our songs reflected that. I would say that we do focus more on the dark now, but it's not because our relationship has gotten darker. I think the reason is that the dark times make you feel more as though you have to express yourself and create. And then when things are good, you tend to just want to do fun things. When you have a dark experience or a dark period, you feel like the only thing you can do is write about it. So I think a lot of the writing reflects a portion of the relationship that is dark, or just a portion of our lives together. But the writing is more dark lately.
EARMILK: When you're writing does it feel like it's more for yourselves or for others?
COLE: That's a good question.
SHPRESA: I think for me it's mostly for myself. But I know that I'm not so different from the rest of the world. I think that we're all pretty similar with the basic stuff. I know that people will relate to that. If I have a problem with something it's for myself.
COLE: So it's more for yourself?
SHPRESA: Most of the time.
COLE: But with the understanding that it'll appeal to somebody else.
SHPRESA: Yes, otherwise I would just keep that song and not release it.
COLE: I feel the same way. I think it's mostly that I write songs I would want to hear. And maybe that exact thing doesn't exist. There's certain things, the raw part of the writing process, the unchiseled chunk of wood that is more for myself. And then when you start to go in and refine things and polish it up, that's when you start thinking about what a lot of people are already saying. I don't want to say the same things that they are. Or what do I not want to do because there's other artists out there already doing it. Then it becomes more for other people, towards the later stages of the process.
EARMILK: So you've been traveling around the United States promoting your new album, what has been your favorite stop so far and why?
SHPRESA: We started off in LA, and we were coming from Sweden where it was super cold. It was amazing. And then we went to DC, and San Francisco was also awesome.
COLE: I'd say for me the best stop was probably Popscene in San Francisco. I enjoyed that the most because I think it is one of the best crowds we have ever performed in front of. And it was cool to meet Greyworm from 'Game of Thrones.'
SHPRESA: But also New York because we've been doing so many fun things here. 'Voice of America' in DC was also fun.
EARMILK: What were you seeking to do musically with the new album?
SHPRESA: I feel personally with this album, I want other people to hear it and reach as many people as possible.
COLE: I would say for my end there were some musical goals, which is basically just to keep evolving and and making our music better. I think that every musician has the goal to make everything their best work, and regardless you want to make sure it's your best work up until now. That's how I feel about this album, and that's what I was going for.
SHPRESA: I sometimes feel the opposite, like this is the best album I've done, and will I do anything like this again?