I personally relate to it, so I loved it so much. The intersection between humanity and technology is often regarded with suspicion, but Flora and Son is really refreshing because it takes a computer and builds a relationship out of it. It starts a bond between Flora and Jeff and then strengthens it between Flora and Max, which is beautiful to watch. Could you tell me about how you wanted to explore the role of technology?
I didn’t think about it massively. It was just an attempt to take an old-school story of how music can change a love affair and the relationships with your family and the people around you, and to put it into a very 21st-century world and to see if it could stand up. To see if you could have songs and have music in a weird, dislocated world that we sometimes find ourselves in now and make it hopeful and romantic still.
It was an experiment in a way to see: could I have a romance with people who never meet and could I have a highly dysfunctional relationship between a mother and a son—and is there a way that we could turn some of these machines around and let them look at our true selves?
It’s not something big that I’m consumed with, but it’s always there now because I am texting as I’m doing this conversation; I’m aware that my phone has beeped because my wife is looking for tickets to the Irish screening of this film, and then I’m thinking about my kids who I’m going to FaceTime in a bit. It’s so distracting.
A lot of it is negative and problematic, but also there are weird moments of fleeting beauty as well. I’m grateful that I can come down sometimes and meet five people in the chatroom to talk about work at eleven at night and see faces of people I’ve just met in New York now I’m back in Ireland. We shouldn’t write it off, it’s a total, necessary part of modern life.
The idea of being young and trying to create something using these tools is interesting, because I never had them when I was young. You had to go book a recording studio and raise money if you wanted to put three tracks down; all you had was a tape recorder and you just put a guitar down and you could sing, but you couldn’t put a bass over that, or you couldn’t put the idea of loops. Or filming. One person had a camera in Dublin, you could borrow that for an hour to do some stupid sketch and that was it. You couldn’t edit. The only way you could show it would be on your mom’s TV to five of your friends.