All images by Kayla Kreller/BlazingChakrams Photography
Ed. Back in September we tasked Jeff with doing a singles recap, and he immediately fell in love with Frankie Soleil’s newest single, Colors. Here is his interview with the Columbus rocker.
Alright, so first, let’s talk about your name. How do you pronounce Soleil?
Frankie Soleil: It’s Soleil. [soh-LAY]
So where did that come from? Is that that your actual last name?
Soleil is actually my middle name. My parents named me after Punky Brewster, so Soleil Moon Frye. Ah yeah, they were both hippies. So my first name is Franklin. After a Grateful Dead song and then Soleil after that!
That’s awesome. So just going off of your Spotify, you’ve been making music for a couple years now, but were you making music before you started releasing stuff?
I guess I started pursuing music seriously when I was 14. I taught myself how to play guitar and I started with mostly indie folk music. I released my first song I think when I was 16. Then a couple years later, I decided that I wanted to kind of up the game a little bit and start working with like a full band and switching it out to more alternative rock music just because that’s originally what I fell in love with when I was younger. And I think that’s always what I really wanted to do, I just didn’t have necessarily the capabilities of doing it yet.
So, you said that you started with indie, then you moved more towards rock music but you’ve been listening to rock for a long time, what were some of those influences that you were listening to?
Uhm, when I was younger it was mostly like I just listened to Johnny Cash with my dad, The Grateful Dead, Dropkick Murphys…
That’s a hell of a line up!
Yeah, he was very much into the punk rock scene when he was younger. He was homeless in California from the age of like 14 to 21. So he’s picked up a lot of very interesting musical influences there, which kind of translated into my childhood. Which I really appreciate because I think that I wouldn’t have had such an interest in different kinds of music if it wasn’t for parents.
And then obviously in like the early 2000s I was obsessed with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and All Time Low and all those “scene” bands. When that was a huge, huge thing. I think the influences come from everywhere. Even folk music I find influencing my rock music now, which is think is pretty cool.
You’ve been putting out singles mostly – is there a plan to try and put together an EP or a whole album or is right now the goal just singles until things get really rolling?
We actually have 5 songs finished right now for an EP that should actually be coming out at the beginning of January. I’m very excited. I think that singles are awesome, but I think that it’s really cool when you can kind of put together pieces of work into something that’s like a whole project that kind of gives insight to who you are as a person and a musician. And I think it’s definitely about time for that, since we’re moving back into where albums are becoming more important. I think for a long time in our culture it was really about releasing singles and just getting something out there. But now it’s kind of shifting back to making sure that your music means something, which I think is.
Is that something that you’ve always tried to do with your music?
Yeah, I would say with music, one of the most important things to me is always being genuine and always sharing something. That is true for myself because I think that when you write from a place that’s not personal, you’re kind of losing your ability to help other people in what you’re doing. Like, I don’t like surface level music, if that makes sense. I think that the purpose of sharing your music is to be able to also share your story and I think a lot of musicians do agree with that, so that’s how I’ve always written my music.
I mean, my parents are both addicts. They’ve had problems with addiction and I do translate that a lot into my music, even what I’m releasing now it has a lot to do with the trauma that I have dealt with in my childhood and I’m just kind of trying to decipher and figure out how much you should let that affect you, you know? Because it’s very difficult when you’re trying to create those things and I think that music is my therapy.
You mentioned earlier that you started out as just a just one person, and then you slowly added more band members. Was that difficult or was it a different experience trying to find band members that were also willing to make these very raw emotional pieces as opposed to folks that just wanted to play music?
I got very lucky with my band members. I had known them for a couple of years, at least as acquaintances. We went to the same high school and then after we graduated, I think I had posted on my Snapchat or something that I wanted people to actually play with me for shows and everything. And Bryan (Ream), my guitarist was the first one to reach out, and he’s absolutely amazing. He’s so talented and I think that he’s always felt the same way about the way that music should be – it shouldn’t just be something that you’re putting out just to put out. It should be you. It should be something that you’re really proud of and something that means a lot to you. So I think I got lucky with how easy it was to find people who actually cared about what we were doing.
That’s awesome! When was the last time you guys played a show? Have you been able to play a show since things have opened back up or?
Yeah, so our first show back – my timeline is way off but we played our first show back like two months ago. At the beginning of September, two months ago. It was a great show. I think that I’m insanely happy that the music scene is kind of opening back up for live music and everything. We have another show November 5th and then we won’t have anything else until our EP release in January.
Ed. I was at that show this past weekend and Frankie + Co rocked the house at King of Clubs.
But the first show that we had back was an awesome show. It was for a photographer’s birthday in the Columbus area, very talented. I think that it’s really cool that a lot of the art scene can come together to kind of celebrate somebody else in the scene, you know, and that’s kind of what I love is how supportive it is. It’s like that you’re not doing this alone. You’re not just sitting in your house, filling out emails all the time for nothing. There’s people who care about what they’re doing and also care about what you’re doing.
For the last twenty months or so, we were all kind of confined and not able to do shows. What was what was that like for you as an artist? What was that like as a person, and then what was that like creatively? Was that something that led you to doing more stuff, or was it something that you struggled with?
I really would say I really struggled with it. I think that one of the things that keeps me going is being able to go out to events and actually meet and talk to people. When I don’t have those interactions, it feels very one sided. It feels kind of, I don’t know, empty? So it was very hard to do the actual work part, like trying to release music and everything, without the adrenaline that you will get from an actual show and being there. Cause that’s one of the things about me is I always have to be working towards something, otherwise my ADHD will just, it’s not going to help me out.
I definitely struggled a lot, but I think that towards the end I kind of figured it out a little bit more, which I think is important for everyone to kind of know how to keep going without needing the approval and confirmation from the people around you; that what you’re doing is important. So, I think I at least learned something from COVID.
That’s a really good point. How do you think that stretch of time is going to affect your writing or do you think that it is going to seep into some of the creative things that are coming? Like this EP, was that written before everything stopped?
Some of the songs that we’re putting on the EP are older songs and things that people have heard but we haven’t released. And then we do have a couple new songs that honestly are kind of based in the frustration I have felt with the people who are running everything, and just how selfish some people can be even though their selfishness is not necessarily meant to be negative. And I think that that’s something that was really brought up during COVID and really brought up while we were all sitting at home, as we just got to watch and see what was going on, on the news and everything. It really made a lot of people realize how many things and systems need to be fixed in our communities.
As well as even just with ourselves, like we’re very focused on if it doesn’t affect us, then it’s doesn’t matter and I think we saw a lot of that with COVID. And that will definitely be influencing my new music for sure. Cause it’s absolutely very frustrating.
So is there any plan, once this EP comes out, to do shows further out than the greater Columbus area? Maybe go out of state?
Definitely. I think that’s always been our goal. We only do like one Columbus show a month at most. Cause we like to not over saturate our city, just because it’s better to make things special. So I think that as soon as possible I’m trying to schedule shows out of Columbus or in other states, because we do have people that listen to our music and a lot of different places in the Midwest and even New York City was one of my most streamed cities for Colors, which I thought was crazy. I think that would be awesome even for our EP release, I think I want to do like a switch with a band in another city, kind of do a show here and then do a show in their city with them. I think that would be a really, really cool thing to do. So I’ll take the opportunities if they come.
You mentioned you recent single, Colors. I noticed that is currently your most streamed song on Spotify. What do you feel was different about this song or was it just kind of the right place, right time that kind of got this one to get a little bit more attention than your other stuff?
I think that a big part of it was not only like the time, but I think that some people were also very familiar with this song already and kind of what it was like before we turned it into a rock song. And honestly, this time I was just a little bit more competent when it came to actually, like, getting it out there because it is really important to make sure you have a plan when you release songs. When I was younger it was not as important to me – it was all about just making the music and making sure that at least somebody heard it.
Now you have to be a little bit more strategic, especially with so many artists who are blowing up all the time. Now we have the people who go viral on Tik Tok and everything, like promotion is key. So I’m hoping to be able to continue that kind of streak with this EP release and making sure I’m kind of staying on top of things.
As much as I do love Bryan and Mark, I think most of the promotion and everything is still my job. Just because this started with me, you know? So I kind of take responsibility for that. So yeah, I think that’s just a huge part of it. I think after COVID people were very excited for new music, which is great. I really enjoyed seeing how many people and how many bands, even just locally, who released EPs or singles and everything when things started opening up.
Alright, one last quick question, are there any artists that you’ve been listening to lately that you’ve been really into? Could be local, national, anything really, just good stuff you’re into.
Frankie: One of my favorite bands right now is The Front Bottoms, I’ve always liked that kind of like garage rock, like folk music and rock music kind of meets and that’s why I’ve enjoyed it so much. I’d say Brockhampton is another really good one, I love them. I think it’s really cool that they have, like, a whole group that basically just does everything for them, and they’re all friends and everything. I think that’s a cool thing when as an artist, you can work with other people like that. There are so many good artists right now, but I’d say those are probably the top 2 I’ve been on like a month.