Over the course of nearly nine years, Shawn Fisher and Jordyn Jackson have had to literally face the music on multiple occasions, as well as do an about-face more than once.
Fisher and Jackson met in November 2010, and at one point, they considered themselves to be “best friends who made out all the time,” Fisher recalls. Around February 2011, they admitted to each other it was a romantic relationship.
“We drew another line in the sand after that: ‘OK, we’re in a relationship, but we’re definitely never going to play music together officially,’ ” says Fisher.
Jackson played jazz, and Fisher was a rocker — so on paper, a creative relationship didn’t seem likely. Eventually, though, that changed as well.
“We started writing together, but it was writing together for Jordyn’s jazz career,” he says. “So we were just billing it as that. Then it [became]: ‘OK, cool. I’m going to perform with you; I’ll just sing background vocals for you.’ And then people would start commenting on the harmonies and the chemistry, but we’d fight it: ‘No, this is not a thing. This is her project.’
“Slowly but surely,” Fisher says, “we realized that we were a good team. We were good at being in a relationship together and good at working together, and not letting the pride and ego get in the way.”
By spring 2011, the Fisher-Jackson team began working as Flagship Romance. They found a place within the folk community in St. Augustine, Florida — even though Fisher says he and Jackson didn’t consider themselves to be a folk act, but over time, that line of thinking changed.
In 2014, the seeds were planted for them to change their home base. While in New Mexico on one of their first tours across the country, Fisher and Jackson got word that their show in Phoenix was called off, so they asked around for ideas on how to best use their unexpected day off. Someone suggested they should visit Truth or Consequences, a small city in the middle of New Mexico known for its hot springs.
So they went there and enjoyed the springs. The next year, they did it again. At first, Fisher says he thought to himself, This place is cool, but I could never live here. After the Truth or Consequences Brewing Co. opened up, he changed his tune to There’s something happening here.
“It became this place where we could build a sanctuary and a community and be on the ground floor of building up a music scene and an arts scene,” he says.
Married since 2015, Fisher and Jackson have released two EPs and three albums as Flagship Romance, the latest being the 12-song Concentric, recorded at the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas, and released in August on Gatorbone Records. With studio time booked in advance, they had a six-month window to write the material for Concentric. After three months, only one song had emerged.
“We had a dry spell because we had just released [Tales From the Self-Help Section],” says Fisher, who admits to being “a pretty anxious person.” One day in Northern California, Fisher got back on track.
“I said, ‘Let’s let go of the stress and the pressure. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen,’ ” he says. “And when I verbalized that, that’s when the floodgates really opened.
“The first song we wrote after I said that was ‘Sex + Drugs + Rock + Roll + Kitties.’ And that was me giving myself a writing exercise, which is something I rarely do. I picked four or five people that we’d met on tour, and I wrote a verse about them, and it coagulated into that song.”
— By Chris M. Junior
Flagship Romance on tour (schedule subject to change):
Sept. 6: Reider Homestead Concerts — Delano, Minnesota
Sept. 7: Chatfield Center of the Arts — Chatfield, Minnesota
Sept. 9: Harmony for Mayo — Rochester, Minnesota
Sept. 19: Soundcolor Studios — Livingston, Montana
Sept. 21: Lewis & Clark Brewing Company — Helena, Montana
Photo by Miguel Emmanuelli