Artist Interview: FRANKIIE

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With shows from Mexico City to Haida Gwaii, the US East Coast, to UK festivals, to spending dedicated hours in the studio, the journey of Vancouver-based four-piece FRANKIIE has been far-reaching not only geographically, but also introspectively. Forget Your Head, their Paper Bag Records debut, harnesses messages of self-love and discovery against a dreamy indie rock soundscape.

Written over a period of two years, Forget Your Head took shape as the four women relished the opportunity to push themselves as artists - claiming space on the international touring circuit, and writing in intimate sessions off the grid before recording with Jason Corbett of ACTORS at his Jacknife Sound studio. Corbett played an integral role in fine tuning Forget Your Head, explains singer and guitarist Francesca Carbonneau, “It’s great working with Jason because he’s always willing to work on an idea you have and go back in and try things until it feels right. His patience and passion are a killer combo for a producer.”

“I think honestly what we’ve been doing is becoming better musicians,” reflects vocalist and keyboardist Nashlyn Lloyd. Carbonneau agrees, enthusing about the band’s ability to turn touring “into an adventure,” as they have steadily played increasingly larger stages. The band’s opening slot on celebrated UK group The Charlatans’ eastern North American tour in fall 2018 was a milestone, as they played the biggest stages in their continuing journey as best friends and collaborators.

Most recently, FRANKIIE embarked on a May 2019 tour of the UK and Europe in support of lead album single, “Dream Reader,” whose haunting melodies describe the emotional rebirth crucial to the making of Forget Your Head.  “Funny Feelings”, embraces the surf-rock sound the band found through exploring tones and working with new guitars and pedals, as the ominous yet playful track encourages the listener to “feel your intuition.” Its lush, full band instrumentation recalls the group’s live show, where each player imbues the group with the strength and joy they find in performing. 

One of the album’s standout tracks is “Compare,” stemming from Carbonneau’s experience of trawling deep through another’s social media. The track’s rollicking guitars and keys float along an invigorating bass line, giving structure to visions of “a sea of screens.” “We have become normalized to a world of voyeurism, but what we see is often just the projection of a life that isn’t even truly real,” she explains. “We can get lost in the illusion of beauty and success of others; of strangers, and in turn feel like our own life doesn’t measure up.” 

It is self-identity which dominates Forget Your Head and has informed FRANKIIE’s approach to accepting change and continuing to grow as artists. “Everything is impermanent, nothing is forever, and so I think that’s a huge lesson in not trying to control everything,” asserts Carbonneau. Forget Your Head marks the beginning of a new adventure for FRANKIIE, whose work ethic and commitment to their music pushes them forward into new discoveries both inside and out.

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Talk to us a little bit about your debut record, Forget Your Head. How long were you working on this record? What were some of the most memorable moments that lead up to the release of it?

We started recording this record in January 2018 and have been working on it slowly since then - really letting the songs marinate if you will. It's been a long journey since the beginning of recording. We've had some growth spurts in terms of both our team and our musicianship. We have also had some really cool tour times, like opening for The Charlatans on eastern U.S. and Canadian dates last fall, and touring though the UK and France this past spring. Also having Vicky join the band earlier this year. It's been fun spicing things up with her in the band. She's a spicy one.

What sort of themes did you explore on Forget Your Head? While you explore a lot of self-love reflection in the record, what were some lessons that you learned while writing it and putting it all together?

It's really challenging to pull all the songs on the album into a universal theme, but overall the album does seem to involve a lot of self-reflection. There are definitely some moments of existential feelings, questioning how the future might play out, and how much personal power we possess over our outcomes. I don't think we explored these themes intentionally - it's whatever we were feeling at the time. We've definitely grown as musicians and people since these songs were written, and it's really interesting looking back on those thoughts now to see how we've changed.

How often do you find that you reflect on something in your writing and still struggle to deal with the conversation that you have with yourself through writing? Or, do you find that your writing process acts more as closure to the topics that you are confronting?

I'm not sure if writing helps solve any problems immediately, but working through feelings with art seems like a start. It feels good to make music, so may as well do more of it. I think to get it out there in whatever tangible or intangible form can be therapeutic even without solving whatever problem it might be about.

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Talk to us a little bit about your experience with Jason Corbett and your decision of working with him. How do you feel he has influenced the record?

We met Jason Corbett a few years before recording with him at Save-On-Meats when we were DJing the Common Courtesy night. He had been producing some of our friends bands, and we somewhat chatted about the idea of working together. In retrospect the decision to work with him was a bit strange because his vibe is very post-punk new-wave, and at the time we were still coming out of the almost folk world. I think we hit him at the right time in our evolution though, and were a good paring for him to grow as well. The intersection of his darker vibe with our somewhat earnest lighter sound melded a dark and light tone to the whole album. He challenged us with more driving beats and synth-ier tones, while we kept bringing in acoustic guitars and harmonies. I love how we have developed since then and translated it to our live show. It was exciting to hear where it took us all. Also, he's a giggler like us, so we spent a lot of time laughing.

Do you think that Vancouver has had a large influence in your music? What about the community of music in Vancouver?

I think Vancouver definitely has an influence on our sound. We are into a lot of the other bands out here and get stoked on music that our peers put out. There is a music community, small but real. Whenever we all go check out a local show together, we come away feeling more inspired on how we can make something new an exciting too. If you look hard enough there are a lot of different genres to tap into here. The more we explore our scene, the more interesting our music gets, I feel, because of what we find.

When it comes to releasing music videos, do you find that you want to create something that compliments the track or do you find it more beneficial for it to be a separate art that happens to go along with the music?

I think either is great! So far we seem to be making videos that somewhat compliment the track. It seems to be pretty loose, which I think is good. That way the viewer can interpret it however they will. I would be open so some super abstract concepts in the future though. Jeremy Wallace-MacLean has produced our videos for "Dream Reader" and "Funny Feelings," which we are both very proud of. We definitely consider him a super important part of our team.

Who did you go to to create the artwork that holds together Forget Your Head? How do you feel it shows off the record as a whole?

The album art was made by Frank Zeidler who is a friend of ours based in France. We were looking for art that would express the dreamy side of the album and also represent the friendship amongst the four of us. He sent us many fantastic paintings with four women, mostly in nature, at peace in each others company and our surroundings. In the end we chose one with the four of us dancing in celebration together. I think it can symbolize our triumph in sticking through so many years together to finish a work of art that we're all proud of. It's a great joy and an accomplishment to make it to a place like this with friends by your side, and memories full of adventures.

What do you think are some stand-out moments on the record, or hold a special spot for you?

Definitely listen close for the bongo drums on "Glory Me." We might have to bring Jason out on tour with us to play those live!

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Interview: Brandynn L Pope
Photography: Amanda Leigh Smith