As a long-time uber fan of the insanely talented Frankmusik, I’ve always followed him through the ups and the downs, through the crazy and genius and through his indie efforts to the major labels. As one of those artists that consistently delivers razor-sharp precisioned pop perfection with a dose of cheek and realism, delving deeper into the mind of Frankmusik has always been an inviting challenge for me.
After parting ways with Universal and now releasing his own new material independently, I thought it would be a good time to catch up with Vincent Frank to chew the fat on the current state of the music industry, the inspiration behind some of his new indie tracks and why he’s returned back to England after his time in Los Angeles…
I feel you’ve gone through a soul-searching as of late with the move to LA to work with the majors out there and now you’re back in jolly ol England. What did you learn as a result of giving it your best shot out there and having now returned back to England without a record deal?
Depending on your personal limitations, expectations and what you want from yourself tied into a contractual arrangement with a third party organization such as a record label will really guide how someone will interpret this question. I myself moved to LA with no real reason to work with the majors in the US. When it came to LA there was no dream or vision, all I was doing was getting away from it all, or soul searching as you put it while I had the chance. I am glad I left because if things had been different in the UK with the release of my first album I may never have gone to America to experience living there for three years, something that many people never get to do in their whole lifetime; I got it out of the way before I was 28. I ended up working with Universal in the US but I didn’t really know why or what for as I felt I was back in the same shoes I was in when I was in the UK. I used to think I was running from potential success because I wasn’t ready for it, but what I have concluded on the last four years of my life is that I just didn’t believe the process, hence never fully backing the final result that was created. I find that I didn’t “give it my best shot” at all really. I was on a wave where I couldn’t see the coast. I was moving at a pace but with no bearings. Coming back home without a “record deal” made me see I was free and that I was grateful for the experience. It seems that you imply that by coming back without a “record deal” I was somehow left empty-handed. I would say not having a “record deal” led me to realize that a deal did not define me because I still had me, myself and I, which turned out to be quite a lot. A record deal is a great thing if you have no idea what you are doing, but I do now. I no longer see the need to be signed as I have seen the machine at work and I respect it for what it is. But is it for me? No.
There was a lot of internet chatter about “Do It In The AM” as being a false representation of Frankmusik. What is your response to that?
With “Do It In The AM” I made the best of what I had. Today I can now say I am proud of that album because of what I faced behind-the-scenes in making it. I have learned not to be ashamed of any of my creative output as it was only ever made with the best intentions. Was “Do It In the AM” a “false representation of” myself? No. Was it a result of someone who didn’t have all the facts at the time of making the album? Yes. I embrace making mistakes as it has helped me become the artist I am today, as I am now much more aware of my place within the arts and the goals I now want to focus on in the future. Mistakes are underrated and highly scorned upon in pop culture. I don’t see anyone holding Brad Pitt fully accountable for his role in “Cool World”. Mainly because there were hundreds more people who share the blame of making such a poor movie. But with music, its the guy with the biggest name on the CD case that gets the flack while everyone else suddenly becomes very aloof. Its just how humans work. Because of this reason I think there are less “challenges with trying to launch a successful, commercial pop album in this day and age” if you DO go independent. For label exec’s will be kicking and screaming to put their name to a success story but head for the hills if its not going to massage their ego’s and bonus packages. You see more often than not that the artist becomes the fall guy if the botton line ain’t looking as pretty as the artist did to label the first day they walked into their building to sign a record contract. That contradiction alone feels like a “challenge” I’m happy to shy away from, as for now I take full responsibility for my work on my own terms. I’ll make less money at first and because I write answers like this I will have a lot less friends who have glass-walled offices to work in. But hey, I’m out of the loop now so why should I care? I have nothing further to loose. I only have the minor details of knowledge and empowerment to gain and if those are not basic human goals for huge personal endeavor then I’m on the wrong planet.
There is a fantastic spoken word lyric on “The Line” from your “Far From Over” EP – tell us what you mean here…
I have made a promise to never speak of the person I wrote that about in interviews again. But I am sure you can figure it out. I’ll just say it was my poetic way of saying “not to rush into things”.
I really loved your work with Colette Carr – especially Killswitch. Colette told us her side of the story with that track, how was it for you during the creation process of Killswitch?
Firstly, thank you. I loved the work I did with Colette too as she is a really hard-worker and I really cracked the whip with her but she took it well and we delivered some great music during our time working together. “Killswitch” was a challenging track in terms of production and subject matter but I think Colette nailed the mood of the track and did a great job on the vocals. Colette is a trooper and I respect that.
“Map” really hit home for me when I first heard it. Have you had your heart broken lately? In love? In your career?
Damn you really do want me to dish some dirt! Well all of the above I guess. But this song was not a “why me?” song, instead it was a “get your ass in gear Vincent you have a job to do now stop feeling sorry for yourself” kind of song. As I said earlier I cannot speak about the person who inspired this song but I do feel its very relatable. I like to keep all of my songs personal enough that I enjoy the power of them, but just impersonal enough that anyone else can relate to them in their own way.
What did you miss most about being away from England so long? What had changed when you got back from your LA adventure…
I missed the people and the history. I missed the terrible weather and the grumpy people. I see the surface attraction towards LA but when you are in the thick of it and have come from somewhere that seems to be the cultural polar opposite then it does come as a bit of a shock. I would like LA a lot more if it rained once a week. The things that had changed back home were just seeing so many shops closed down. Its sad to see a lack of growth being projected in such a physical way.
There is a lot of talk lately about the music industry moving more into subscription services like Spotify and Google and more direct artist to fan social revenue streams like Pledge Music. Where do you think the industry should be heading in 2013 from the independent artist’s point of view…
I have no clue. I just make music man. I would like to think I am becoming more business savvy. But the pledging and kickstarter routes to me just don’t sit well. If my music does not move people enough for them to want to come to a show or buy my music then I don’t feel the next logical step is to beg for money. I see the appeal, I really do but different strokes for different folks.
I think it’s kind of sad that the commercial music industry only focuses on just a few select artists every year. Do you think the music industry will ever open it’s arms to more than just 2% of the artists out there?
I really couldn’t care less what the label industry focuses on. It goes back to that “why me” attitude. If the artist is focusing on their output as much as they can be then really you can and should survive. To flourish I think that comes down to the consumer preference. Radio will always be paid to play what they are told to by labels and we will go out and buy what we hear and see the the most on those label-subsidized media outlets. I have made a clear realization that as a free artist I no longer see the labels as direct competition. I am outside of their system now therefore I no longer see myself succeeding in their system by proxy and why the hell should I? Art is art, if you are making it for the right reasons then you should be happy with what you get and anything else is a nice surprise. If you want to play the chase radio game and monetize your creative output game then prepare to die by that sword as money comes and goes as do labels and the mediums in which it can make money from music. Be aware of the business mechanics but do not be a slave to them as when you make money the carrot for finding creativity it more often-than-not stifles your true ability.
EDM – here to stay or another passing fad?
I hope Educated Dutch Mormons are here to stay.
What are you listening to right now? Let us in on something brilliant on your playlist that maybe we haven’t heard yet.
Easy. Cara Salimando.
What’s next for Frankmusik?
After my US tour I will be starting work on my 4th studio album which will be my first concept album. After that I intend to get straight back on the road and tour my music again.
Frankmusik churns out more quality electronic pop than most others and if you follow him and his website, more-than-likely you’ll get a lot of free music to enjoy at home and at his shows when he tours the US.