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Interview: Frankie Rose

10 March 2023

Photo by Esme Rogers Smith

While Love As Projection is the first album from Frankie Rose since 2017, the singer revealed the album was actually completed a little over two-and-a-half years ago but, like so many other releases, fell victim to the vinyl pressing delay. With music that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Stranger Things soundtrack or as background music in a pivotal scene from a John Hughes film, Love as Projection doesn’t have an “expire by” date, it’s both nostalgic and fresh at the same time.

How does an album start for you? Do you sit down and say, “I want this album to have 10 songs and I’m giving myself a year to write and record” or are you constantly writing and then, when you have a handful of songs, start thinking that maybe you’ll see what else you can come up with to have enough for an album?

FRANKIE: More the second one. I don’t ever give myself a time limit. I wish I was faster. I wish I could be like, “I’m going to do this in a year.” But, life happens. Day jobs happen. Pandemics happen. I just sit down, start outlining, work on things here and there and eventually I have enough that it’s an album and I know I want to take it into a nicer studio and finish it. I usually aim for 13 or 14 songs. I’ll get them to a place where it’s a fully realized thing and then take them generally somewhere nicer than my home studio.

Do you prefer to record at a particular time of day?

FRANKIE: I’m a morning person. I can’t do anything at night. I’m useless, I just want to watch TV. I’m not creative, I’m not useful. I have to do everything in the morning and early afternoon and then I just sort of turn into a pumpkin around 5.

From when you first started writing the songs that ended up on Love As Projection to when you realized that you were ready to go into the studio, what was that timeline?

FRANKIE: I would honestly say about two years. It’s funny because it has been six years since my last record, but this album is now like two-and-a-half-years old because of the pandemic. It’s just been sitting in line for a place at the pressing plant, because of the pressing plant back up. It definitely feels weird, these songs feel so very old to me.

Does that mean that you’re constantly writing and you’ve got what you would consider to be another album almost ready to take into the studio?

FRANKIE: No. I’ve been working on Fine Place, actually, my other little project that I’m very interested in. I don’t take that anywhere, like to a nicer studio. That’s just me doing all the engineering and producing on it. I’ll just write and be like, “What does this make sense for? Is this a Frankie song? What is this for?”

Because the album’s been done for a while, do you forget that it’s not out there in the world, that people haven’t already heard the whole thing?

FRANKIE: Oh yeah. I’ve toured the songs already. I did that whole tour with Nothing in 2021 and played some of the songs live. It’s definitely weird for it to be like, “Oh, now it’s out in the world.”

And now you’re doing press for these songs were written a while ago.

FRANKIE: It’s funny because more of the narrative about the songs is that they’re old. I don’t even remember what mindset I was in when I was writing them.

Your music has an ’80s sound. So, even though it was written a few years ago, it’s not like you’re following any particular trend that has come and gone since the time these songs were recorded. There are many bands out there whose albums were delayed by the pandemic and even though it’s only been a few years, they may sound dated.

FRANKIE: I hope you’re right. I worry about that actually. Is it dated? Am I listening to my record from 2012 and being like, “Oh my God, that’s so 2012.” Sometimes, when I do listen back, I’m like, “That was such a 2012 decision to make.” Because of what I like, it’s those timeless sounds, like drums sounds that are not necessarily modern. I like 808s. I like 707s. I like all the stuff that places it specifically in a time period. Sometimes, I’ll add some low end or another snare or a kick drum that might make it more modern but those are the kind of decisions that place something in a time period. I think, because I really like that era, it’s not going to stray too far from the post-punk, electronic stuff from the ’80s. I hope it doesn’t because I kind of don’t like a lot of modern sounds very much.

Are you trying to capture that ’80s sound in your music?

FRANKIE: I’m early Millennial, late Gen X. That’s just the stuff I liked when I was a kid. Those are the sounds that moved me and I continue to like post-punk. Everything I do is rooted in all that stuff simply because it’s what I like to listen to. I’m never like, “I’m going to make this ’80s-inspired album.” It’s just that I have this file box of references and music that I love and it just happens to have sounds and instruments that were very popular at that time. It’s a hard line to tow. I’m not trying to be all referential, like an ’80s-comeback sounding band. That’s not my intention at all. I feel like there’s a real revival of that stuff now and a lot of it does sound a little derivative. It just sounds like a generic band you could have plucked out of the ’80s. I’m not trying to do that.

You released three singles before the album came out. I started thinking about the last song on albums. Rarely are those songs ever singles. Those songs don’t often get talked about so can you tell me about “Song For a Horse” and why it’s the last song?

FRANKIE: I know people in 2023 really care about singles. I don’t think they think in terms of albums. But, I think in terms of albums and telling a story from the beginning to end on every single one of my records. I think a lot about the order the songs will appear on the record and why something is somewhere on the record. It’s very much a story to me. I always end my albums on kind of a sad note. The end of this record has a very electronic, repetitive, kind of hypnotic vibe. It’s kind of sad. Putting it at the end was definitely on purpose.

When you wrote “Song For a Horse,” was the idea that that was the song you wanted to end the album with?

FRANKIE: No. I never know what the story is going to be until all the songs are sitting in front of me. It’s always like, “How is it going to sound as a record? How is the story going to be told? How does it all fit together?”

In a few years, when you look back on this record, how would you fill in the blank if asked to describe this as your blank period?

FRANKIE: It has been a few years! I’m a totally different person. I feel like this is a transition period, actually, or it was. I would fill in the blank with the word “transition.” I feel like this might be the last record I do like this. I feel like it’s a transitory album. It’s doesn’t mean that I’m going to make emo record or something. What I’m interested in doing is changing a lot.

Even though you may not make another record like Love As Projection as a solo artist, Fine Place is not all that different so you can always use that project to fulfill your need to make post-punk, new wave music.

FRANKIE: I don’t think that will ever go away for me. I’m getting more interested in electronic music and ambient music. I feel like huge pop bangers might not be on the menu in the future.

In 2019, you covered The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds album. To be honest, I listened to your version before I ever listened to the original album.

FRANKIE: For The Cure, it was pretty dark, post-punk. How that came about was the label Turntable Kitchen approached me and they commissioned it. They saw me do a cover of “A Forest” from that album at South by Southwest and they were like, “Do you want to cover this entire album? We’ll pay for it.” I was like, “Why yes, I would love to do that. Why wouldn’t I do that?” That was the original pressing and there were very few copies. Then Night School came to me a year ago and said, “Let’s repress this.” So, it’s available again. It’s a really cool project. The fact that Turntable Kitchen does that is awesome. I’m really proud of that album and it’s never something I would have done unless someone asked me if I wanted to do it.

There’s something special about them making limited copies for each of the albums in the series. They don’t show up on streaming platforms for quite a while so if you want to hear you cover The Cure, or The Fruit Bats cover The Smashing Pumpkins, you have to order the vinyl before it sells out.

FRANKIE: How people listen to music is so different now. The way music is now, it’s to be consumed and thrown away. You never are sitting there listening to every single song. I feel really, really lucky that I’m of the age where I remember buying records, like when I was 15, and I treasured it. You would know every single song, whether you liked it or not. You could be like, “Oh my God, I don’t like this song.” But you had to wait for it to be over. There was something amazing about that. It was beautiful. I feel lucky that I got to experience music that way.

If Turntable Kitchen came back to you and offered to do another album of covers, is there an album you’d like to take a crack at?

FRANKIE: That’s so hard. That’s the problem. I never would have picked The Cure because I think their albums are already perfect and I don’t think anyone wants to hear my version of it. That’s why I tried to make the record sound as close to their record as possible. I was like, “How am I going to improve on this? I’m not.” So, if there’s an album that I’m like, “Oh my God,” I just like it’s audacious for me to do my version. I don’t know what I would do. It would have to be some weird, obscure album, maybe some EDM thing. It would have to be cool and off, an off kind of record that I feel like I could improve upon. But, I couldn’t tell you what record that would be.

You tweeted recently that, in 2023, music doesn’t pay the bills.

FRANKIE: It doesn’t. If I was German or French or Canadian, it might. But, I’m from the United States and it’s not a priority to take care of the artists here. That’s just the reality.

Are you forced to do anything different now than you did a decade ago to get in front of people and promote your music? Like, are you having to be active on social media and creating TikTok videos?

FRANKIE: Releasing a record now is just wildly different than it was in 2010 or 2011. What becomes massively viral now … you never even had to say that word a decade ago … things that are selling out Terminal 5 in New York or other giant venues, it’s not the same as it used to be. The rules are totally different. I don’t claim to know what the formula is but I do think cult of personality is a massively important factor now. It doesn’t work great if you’re a very private person and want to have separation between your personhood and your art. That’s pretty tricky in 2023, honestly, unless you’re Burial and you’re somehow very, very popular and nobody knows who you are. That’s magical and never happens.

With things like Twitter and Instagram, there’s probably never going to be a band like KISS ever again, where the artists are completely anonymous and the public doesn’t know their true identities. I guess the closest we’ve come to that is Ghost, but you can easily find out their real names and see photos of them with a quick Google search.

FRANKIE: There’s never going to be another David Bowie! He was very private, actually. I guess there’s also Slipknot and Deadmau5 and Daft Punk. It’s hard to be a mysterious artist when most artists are on TikTok, “This is what I had for breakfast!”

With streaming royalty rates being so low and physical media sales being almost non-existent, there are many people out there saying, “To make money, you need to go out and play live shows.”

FRANKIE: It’s interesting because it used to be that you could make money by licensing your songs and by touring. It’s a real ebb and flow. But, if you’re someone like me, and you can’t put out an album for six years, you’re kind of screwed.

Even touring these days is a costly venture and you’re not guaranteed to make any money doing that either.

FRANKIE: It really is costly. You have to be at a certain level to make it wholly sustainable, that’s for sure.

So with all this uplifting tour talk (laughs), will you be touring this year?

FRANKIE: I am! We’re doing an entire U.S. tour in May and we’re taking SRSQ out with us. She’s a dance record artists. She’s amazing. I’m trying to tour everywhere. I want to go. I will go anywhere.


3/11 Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool !
4/13 Orlando, FL – Wills Pub !
4/14 West Palm Beach, FL – Propaganda &!
4/15 Miami, FL – Gramps
4/16 Tampa, FL – New World Brewery +
5/14 Washington DC – Songbyrd $
5/15 Durham, NC – Pinhook $
5/16 Atlanta, GA – The Earl $
5/18 Denton, TX – Rubber Gloves $
5/19 Austin, TX – Empire Control Room $
5/21 Albuquerque, NM – Sister $
5/23 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar $
5/24 Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon $
5/25 San Francisco, CA – The Chapel $
5/26 Sacramento, CA – Starlet Room $
5/27 Portland, OR – Doug Fir $
5/28 Seattle, WA – Madame Lou’s $
5/31 St Paul, MN – Turf Club $
6/01 Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club $
6/03 Chicago, IL – TBA
6/04 Ferndale, MI – The Magic Bag $
6/05 Toronto, ON – Monarch Tavern $
6/06 Montreal, PQ – Bar Le “Ritz” PDB $
6/07 Troy, NY – No Fun $
6/08 Brooklyn, NY – TV Eye $

! = w/ Donzii
& = w/ Postcards From Paradise
+ = w/ Romeo Blu, Offerings
$ = w/ SRSQ


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