Why the synthwave band has the pieces needed for “wild success”
Charleston‘s Doom Flamingo, fronted by powerhouse vocalist Kanika Moore, performs a live show in Denver, Colorado. The sextet delivers ‘80s vibes on its new EP, Flamimgo (inset).
When singer Kanika Moore bellows, “You’re simply the best!” it’s as if Tina Turner herself has taken the microphone. Doom Flamingo covers the 1989 hit on its six-song EP, Flamingo, a collection of tracks that would each fit nicely into a playlist of feel-good ’80s hits from Hall & Oates, Tears for Fears, and Whitney Houston. For band members, Turner’s “The Best” is their anthem. “I love Tina, and it reminds me of my love for her and the band members,” says Moore.
The sextet formed in 2018 when bassist Ryan Stasik was looking for an after-party act for his other band, Umphrey’s McGee, and called on saxophonist Mike Quinn to help assemble an all-star cast of Charleston’s best jazz-jam-funk musicians, including Moore, keyboardist Ross Bogan, drummer Stu White, and guitarist Thomas Kenney.
Bogan had recently discovered synthwave music, a genre inspired by ’80s action films such as Blade Runner. “It’s a guilty pleasure,” he says. “It’s typically in-the-box electronic music made by one person, and our idea was to try to do it as a live band.” What began as a one-off gig quickly developed into a national touring act, building on Stasik’s fan base with Umphrey’s. “Our chemistry [with Doom Flamingo] was so natural from the first note,” recalls Stasik.
After releasing a series of singles, the band dropped their Doom EP in 2020, an intense five tracks that could easily accompany an ’80s horror flick like Halloween. With follow-up Flamingo recorded at Coast Records, they embrace the bubblegum-pop, Miami Beach vibes of that era.
Highlights include “Hot Wheels,” a skating rink anthem that took its name from the once-loved James Island rink. “Stay” originated with Moore and Bogan riffing on the idea of someone falling in love with a woman at a coffee shop but never approaching her. “We wrote so conceptually with this project,” Bogan explains. “It’s like we’re thinking of some ’80s movie that you’ve never seen and writing the plot to that.” “Michelle” began with a groove created by Bogan and Kenney, before Moore drew inspiration from Michelle Obama for the lyrics. And the driving opening track, “Untraditional,” shows off Stasik’s funky bass lines.
With powerhouse vocalist Kanika Moore at center stage, Doom Flamingo delivers a high-energy, feel-good ’80s vibe on its latest EP Flamingo, which includes a cover of Tina Turner’s hit “The Best.”
Moore shines on vocals. “She’s a star. She always commands the room,” says Stasik. The singer credits the group’s success to its well-defined sound. “They all know what fits,” says Moore of the musicians’ creative process.
Indeed, Doom Flamingo has the pieces needed for wild success: a singer with Tina Turner-level talent, inspired song writing, and a sound that feels like putting the top down in a classic Camaro. Gloom doesn’t always accompany doom, especially when flamingos join the party.