FRANK'S DAUGHTER: The sound of a heart unraveling
Frank’s Daughter is a two-man ensemble comprised of Frank (vox, guitar, keys) and Arthur (guitar, bass, programming). The idea for the band was born in Brooklyn, NY over “several bottles of red wine and whiskies,” but their home base is now across the pond in London, UK. After spending many months completely isolated in an Alpine hotel with only their recording equipment, a pen and some paper, Frank’s Daughter was able to create their first album, “The Sound of a Heart Unraveling,” which was just released this November on limited-edition vinyl. We at Seymour are inspired by the band’s desire to both explore and communicate their emotions and wanted to know more about their unique creative process.
To hear their music, please visit: www.franks-daughter.com
Interview by Emilia Petrarca
What was it about your time spent in total isolation that inspired you to create Frank’s Daughter? Were you able to tap into your subconscious more effectively?
It was really important for us to find a space that allowed us to start the recording process with a blank page. Recording studios tend to require a specific way of working and impose restrictions on you without you really knowing it. For us the environment was really key. We were lucky to be given the keys to a closed down hotel right in the middle of the Alps. Although we made our own studio in the loft we still felt very much part of the environment, the weather changes constantly there and can be very inspiring. We didn’t consciously try to get that into the record but listening back we think you can really feel the weather, and the weight of these huge mountains that were surrounding us. We were very much alone there, in the beginning there was no-one around and sometimes could go a week without seeing a single person, as we reached the end of our time there, more and more people arrived for the start of the ski-ing season, so we gradually felt the mountains being filled up with people, people returning back to wwork. I think you can also feel that on the record there’s this sorrowful loneliness at the beginning, but by the end there’s a feeling of hope. I think also being cut-off, very limited internet and phone access, no TV, hardly any people. A shop that was only open on Tuesday afternoons for two hours. That kind of thing helps you sub-consciously settle into a place where you really feel deeply, emotions really bubble up to the surface and your feelings are heightened somehow. You’re not blanketed by tons of stuff going on around, I suppose you feel exposed and you are. I think we got that onto the record.
After this experience, do you always create in isolated environments? In what physical/emotional conditions do you work best?
I think it’s important to find somewhere that not necessarily inspires the work but allows you create freely. It worked well for us with the last record that it was so isolated, and it was such an incredible place, but we just couldn’t do that again, there were moments that it felt like hell, we felt lost, trapped. There was a lot of pain out there. I don’t think that record could have been made anywhere else, but we aren’t in a hurry to repeat it.
How do you reconcile creating in isolation with performing in front of large audiences? Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
That’s something we are currently trying to figure out. We want the live experience of Frank’s Daughter to be real. We have no intention of just re-creating the record on stage, it’s not something that interests us. We’d like every gig to be different, really individual shows, that are a bit free, I guess the live experience will ideally be music based on the music of “The Sound of a heart unraveling” as opposed to a carbon copy of it.
No great rituals, but we both need to be pretty calm, have a bit of peace and listen to some inspiring music before we go on stage.
Why have you chosen to work with vinyl? You speak about recording moments or movements that are, “like a brush stroke, never to be repeated, or re-recorded.” How does working with vinyl help you achieve this?
For us and particular this record it was really important to release it initially on vinyl, we are not say it won’t ever be released digitally or on CD, but the initial release had to be vinyl. We though a great deal about running order and gaps and these really help set out the rhythm of a record, and those decisions were being taken with vinyl in mind. We wanted the running order to reflect a side A, and a Side B. That means decisions have to be made on how to close side A and how to open side B, how each side should build and close. You just don’t have those decisions on a cd to make. It was also important that we wanted people to have a connection with the album, and nothing does that like a piece of vinyl. You have to make a decision to play it, take the record out of the sleeve and put it on the turntable. There’s a commitment there that isn’t the same with mp3’s. We also felt the artwork was really important, and making sure that it reflected the spirit and the emotion of the lp without taking over, was essential to us.
Your music speaks a lot about honesty and honest emotions. How do you go about conveying authentic emotions in your music? What types of music help you get in touch with our own emotions/subconscious?
For me words and emotion should happen at the same time, I just don’t see how an honest or true piece of music can be made if you are just building layers and picking out things to say. Otherwise it’s a bit like when you have an argument or want to be funny and you think of something later. Yes you can say it, but it won’t have the same impact, it won’t be real. To be real it has to be in the moment and the trick then is to capture it somehow.
Do dreams play a role in your creativity?
I was going to say no, dreams don’t really pay a part, but it made me think. And I suppose the kind of dreams I have are very similar to the tone of Frank’s Daughter. Also when it comes to recording, especially vocals, there is a kind of “dream like” state that I tap into. It’s about letting go of your daily reality really. Allowing yourself to drift. When I was a kid I was always daydreaming a lot, and used to effectively try to get myself into a daydream. I think that’s really helped me be able to fall into a place where I can get to that dream-like space when I’m creating. So on reflection yes they do.
Do you have any current obsessions?
I don’t have a TV, we got rid of them just before we left for the Alps, but I’m totally obsessed with boxsets. The Wire, Sopranos, Homeland, Deadwood, and especially the Danish stuff like The Killing, The Bridge.
Published: November 30th, 2012