Frankmusik is in evident good spirits when our call connects. Otherwise known as Vincent Frank, a chap in his early twenties from Croydon, he’s set to explode onto the mainstream scene in 2009 with his irrepressible brand of addictive synth pop. It’s retro, it’s the future; it’s the Here and the Now. It’s many a thing to many a person, but ultimately it’s simply what the man himself wants to hear.
“I just make music for myself,” he tells me. “That’s always how I’ve done it. It’ll get picked up if you’re doing it the right way. I know what pop music I want to hear, and I’m going to make it if nobody else is.”
The debut Frankmusic album, ‘Complete Me’, is scheduled for a June release, but you’re bound to hear the man’s music prior to the summer – he releases his first single proper, ‘Better Off As Two’, on April 6, and he’s also touring as support to a band he idolised as a kid, the Pet Shop Boys. Initially worried about taking his studio-crafted compositions into the live arena, his fears were set to one side after a stint on the road with Keane.
“I am now excited about touring as much as possible, as I’ve fallen in love with performing now,” he says, the crackle of genuine enthusiasm coursing through the phone line. “I thoroughly enjoy it after the Keane dates, and I’m happy that we can hold our own.”
But didn’t he have reservations? “Oh, massively. You can fall to bits if you’re an electronic act. I didn’t just want to be an electronic act though; I wanted to be a pop act, so I had to get the right band together. I’ve got some amazing people working with me, and we’ve nailed it. We’ve more work to do, but the response to the songs we’ve been playing live has been absolutely incredible.”
Frankmusik’s profile has grown steadily, word of mouth recommendations as important as media buzz for his earliest release, last year’s ‘3 Little Words’ EP. While picked as a potential star for this year in the BBC’s Sound of 2009 list in January, he wasn’t selected as one of the top five. It’s a result he’s happy with.
“It means I don’t have too much media pressure on me right now. There’s no hot spot or anything, and there’s none of that nonsense hype. I’m actually getting noticed for the right reasons. Like, doing the Keane tour was a great way to get noticed. I’d rather work for it than have it given to me because I’m a ‘name’. I wouldn’t want to be in the situation of Little Boots or La Roux.”
And, unlike said artists, the industry’s already had a considerable taste of ‘Complete Me’, as samplers did the rounds last month. The initial impression is of a mature, measured pop album that balances necessary accessibility with an emotional core uncommonly rich in sincerity, and arrangements that sparkle brighter than so many production-line offerings.
Says Vincent on the album: “The thing is, for a start, there’s authenticity and it’s transparent. I write everything myself, and I produce a lot of it too, so immediately you’ve got rid of the whole manufactured bullshit, that’s massively associated with pop. I’m looking to break down barriers as much as possible, and that’s basically what I’m trying to do – you can be a good pop act, like the old days, and make sure everything’s as cutting edge as possible but never forgetting you’ve a pop song to get across.”
And on his influences: “My big thing is ‘80s music, like the Pet Shop Boys, Yazoo, the Thompson Twins. A lot of the synths I use is the stuff they used to use. It’s funny how, hand in hand, music technology and the pop world became tasteless and lost character, because all modern synths are good at doing everything, but they have no identity of their own. So you’ve got all these pop acts, like Leona Lewis, who’s got a great pop song but you don’t feel the passion that it took her to write that song. Synths from the ‘80s are just mad, raw and mental, a bit like the people who were using them. So, that’s what’s been missing.”
Regarding the emotional aspect of the album, Vincent’s hardly backwards in coming forwards, with the whole record apparently based on his relationship with just one girl. “I see love as a completely abstract thing, and writing music is therapy – if I didn’t do it I’d go mad, so I had no choice. I had to do it, and if I didn’t I would have killed someone.” Which is, of course, one way of attracting attention, but such is the quality on offer so far, it seems impossible that Vincent won’t make his mark on purely musical terms. And it won’t be an overnight achievement, either; he’s invested a lot in this project, to make a dream a reality.
“This has been going on for a while. Before this I did beat-boxing, and I really have started from the bottom, doing naff open-mic nights in Camden. I just wanted to get out and meet people, and make music. Like, I dropped out of university and worked in a jeans shop, and now I’m here. But there’s plenty more to be done.”
And that work begins in April, with the release of ‘Better Off As Two’. Of course, he’ll have to make it home first – follow his exploits on the Live And Lost tour on MySpace. Good luck, sir.
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Read a live review of the Frankmusik show in Dundee on March 22 HERE. See Frankmusic live with the Pet Shop Boys at the Manchester Apollo (June 18) and the London O2 (June 19), and at other dates listed on MySpace.