James wears LOUIS VUITTON jacket; talent’s own t-shirt and jeans; CONVERSE shoes (worn throughout); talent’s own necklace and bracelet (worn throughout); LOUIS VUITTON ring (worn throughout); KATHE’S JEWELRY ring (worn throughout). Hugo wears LOUIS VUITTON jacket and pants; THE QUALITY MENDING COMPANY t-shirt; KATHE’S JEWELRY necklace (worn throughout) and bracelet.
“That was just naivety, and now I suppose there’s something in the naivety that works. You don’t know what you’re doing, so you do something unique.”
– Hugo Gruzman
James Lyell and Hugo Gruzman, the duo behind Flight Facilities, are surprisingly nonchalant about their origin story. In Gruzman’s words, “It was the right time and right set of circumstances for everything to go in the correct direction.” The pair met in the centre of Kings Cross, and though the odds of success aren’t in every bourgeoning DJ’s favour, Gruzman approached Lyell and asked if he wanted to make music together. That was eight years ago, and while the pair’s first single Crave You has its roots in self-described inexperience, the innocence of the project is what allowed it to be great.
After Crave You, Gruzman and Lyell became the most well-known unknown musicians in the country, two fledgling producers facing the world in old-school aviation attire. When an opportunity arose to collaborate with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for an orchestral reimagining of their debut album Down To Earth, the pair said yes immediately. The experience would be something akin to a camp, they immersed themselves in Melbourne for a week for what would become a wildly successful classical production, the likes of which they’re bringing to Sydney’s The Domain in September alongside the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Why again? “Why not?” laughs Lyell.
“We’ve built a brand where we don’t have to answer to anyone, we do exactly what we think is the best thing at the time to do.”
– James Lyell
Gruzman and Lyell, together, are a remarkable blend of caution and spontaneity; self-deprecating at times, impassioned at others. When asked to describe one another they can hardly keep straight faces, but when they’re implored to continue, the jokes subside: “[Hugo] is extremely caring and well mannered. But really determined, and inspiring,” says Lyell. Of Lyell, Gruzman considers, “He’s impulsive, and that is something I wish I had more of. That’s why it works so well together.” Could they make the same music on their own? “Either of us could make songs individually, I think there’s no question about that,” adds Gruzman. “But no matter who else I sat down with [we] wouldn’t have the same result … It’s almost like making a kid, you know, the genetics are always going to be different.”
“The songs that come out because both of us are in the same room are so different, and the coolest thing about that is I know that none of those songs could have been made without him.”
– Hugo Gruzman
PHOTOGRAPHY Blair Getz Mezibov @ Quadriga Agency
FASHION Ilona Hamer
TALENT Hugo Gruzman and James Lyell
GROOMING Lizzie Arneson @ BRIDGE
STYLIST’S ASSISTANT Maggie Foster