Interview: To Be Frank
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY MUSIC NEWS IN JUNE 2013.
With over 100,000 hits in just over a month, it’s fair to say To Be Frank‘s debut single If You Love Her is highly acclaimed, and rapidly gaining popularity.
The follow up is the forthcoming four track EP Nothing, to be released on July 1st via Solebay Music. A sparse, electronic production with the bleak, dystopian landscape of lead track Nothing already gaining attention.
With a guest appearance from singer Hazel Tratt on one track, the four songs are the next step in the story of the former frontman of The Brothers, who has led an eclectic career before launching To Be Frank earlier this year.
Though still in its relative infancy, this new project is already being championed by the likes of Lauren Laverne, Hew Stephens, Radio 1, 6Music, Rough Magazine and Alfitude, and looks set to be a huge hit as To Be Frank progresses.
Music News caught up with Frank Pescod, the producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist behind the moniker, to find out more about Nothing…
Music News: Hi Frank, welcome to Music News. You’re generating quite a buzz at the moment! As a relatively new artist, how does it feel to have the likes of Lauren Laverne fighting your corner?
To Be Frank: Hi, thanks for having me. I love Lauren’s show. It was lovely of her to give me the headphone moment and it was a really nice way for If You Love Her to make its debut on 6Music.
MN: Of course, you’ve been in the business for a number of years performing in and managing bands, running venues and currently heading up a commercial music company. What’s made you want to explore all these different career paths?
TBF: Well I guess I like to try different things, and I am always wanting to push myself in whatever I do. Some things were planned and others sort of happened naturally really. Overall, it has given me a good overview of the different areas of the music business.
MN: Music itself is your first love, I guess?
TBF: It’s definitely my first love, even though I have done a lot of different things, music has always been at the center of them.
MN: Does it feel strange to have all of your experience, then be regarded as a ‘new artist’ again?
TBF: Not really as To Be Frank is new, and people are just discovering it for the first time so it’s fine.
MN: Your new EP is more electronic than your debut single. What made you take your music in this direction?
TBF: The EP is a mixture of electronic and acoustic. I guess I wanted to show people the other sides of me and that I am not one thing. I produce, sing and play a variety of music, I don’t want to be put in a box. I just want to write the best music I can.
MN: There’s a hint of Depeche Mode to the new stuff. Are they amongst your influences?
TBF: If I’m honest they aren’t actually! Perhaps deep in my sub conscious they are there… Haha! I’ve got a lot of influences from jazz, Motown, pop, electronic… there’s too many to name artists now.
MN: One thing that grabbed me when I first heard If You Love Her is that you’re not afraid to strip it back to a bare-bones soundscape. Given the current trend for compressed, normalised music without shades of volume, this feels quite bold for a potentially mainstream artist. Are you conscious of this?
TBF: Yes I know it was a risk as a first single, but for me it felt right. I wanted to let the song breathe and allow the voice to be heard. I think there is something special about the space in it that makes it hypnotic with the constant kick.
MN: You’re quite a prolific writer. Do you have a particular process you follow, or is it more spontaneous?
TBF: Thank you. I don’t really [have a process]. I just try not to force it. Sometimes the song comes quickly and other times it can take a while. I have different ways in which I create, there’s no set rules, I am always finding new instruments to use, or my engineer Andy appears with something tasty for me to play with!
MN: How do you see To Be Frank developing as a project?
TBF: I have a lot of songs and I keep writing more. I want to keep putting them out on my label Solebay Music and hopefully people will like them.
MN: Is To Be Frank something that can be an umbrella title for all of your work, or would you release anything drastically different under another name?
TBF: Well, I’d like to keep To Be Frank as my producer/ artist title as its who I am, whether I am writing my own songs or producing someone else. As for other names down the line who knows what projects are around the corner.
MN: Your music is self-released. Are you keen to avoid the major label system?
TBF: I’m not against major labels, I just started my own label as It felt like the right thing to do. I am really enjoying it as it’s giving me a clear understanding of how it all works and I get to work with a great team of people.
MN: How important is the internet in regards to your work? Some artists embrace it, others see it as the enemy.
TBF: I think you can look at it both ways really, On the one hand music has become free for a lot of people and on the other it’s an amazing tool. It’s all about how we use it.
MN: Do you have any dream collaborators?
TBF: Ooh, If I could perhaps Prince, Quincy Jones or Bill Withers would be nice.
MN: Finally, if you could have written any piece of music from history, which would it be and why?
TBF: Oh, that’s hard… Okay… one would be The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams. It’s a beautiful piece of music that I have some great memories to.
MN: To Be Frank, thank you very much.
TBF: Thank you
TO BE FRANK’s new ep ‘Nothing’ is released on July 1st via Solebay Music. The video for his debut single, ‘If You Love Her’, is below,