Special Interview: Hey Frankie

theaussieword.com catches up with Nick from Hey Frankie.

Give us an introduction. How did it all begin? What had you first interested in music?
Before Hey Frankie came together, Dan, Matt, Ryan and Jess played together as the “Jess Palmer Band”. Jess had written some tunes, and the band were preparing for a recording session in the second part of 2013. Nick wasn’t part of the original JPB, but was asked to fill in and play piano/keyboards for the session. 

Rehearsals were going well, but at one point, we hit a wall with one of the tunes, “I See You”. We took a little break from rehearsing, and just had a play. This sparked a different energy in the group. We took elements from this jam, re-arranged “I See You”, and it ended up becoming the title track of the EP. This was the first time the five of us created something together; in this instance, we used someone’s material as a starting point. 

Looking back, this jam was the birth of Hey Frankie, as we followed this process with all the tunes in the subsequent rehearsals and tracking sessions (and continue to do so in writing all our new material). This prompted Jess to put to everyone that we become a band, call ourselves “Hey Frankie”, and release these recordings as our debut EP. Everyone jumped on board.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
The quest to make great music is our principal driving force. We love the collaborating process involved in writing these songs. Its hard to pinpoint  specific influences, because every member of the band brings something completely different. Its the sum of these parts that makes up the Hey Frankie identity.
What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
To create a body of work that is recognisably Hey Frankie and perform to audiences across the globe. Its our goal be sharing our messages an music by playing the biggest festivals, venues and showcases.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
Shows and new material. We’re already underway with preparing for fresh tracking and a new video to be released throughout the year. Touring is certainly on the agenda, there’ll be more on this to come later in the year.
Tell us a bit about your latest album and how would you best describe your music?
“Guess Who” captures the latest developments of Hey Frankie. This is music that melds elements of neo-soul, jazz and electronica. We are yet to be able to define it in a single word. Most of the tunes formed organically during rehearsals through spontaneous jams. We took the strong ideas / moments of these jams, and worked them into songs. Outside of rehearsals, Jess would take these ideas into her studio and write all of the lyrics. Within three months, we had twenty new tunes to choose from.    Given the limited financial resources of the band, we had to use as much ingenuity as we had to produce the recording. This meant doing most tracking in our backyard studios, sourcing recording equipment where we could, and, ensuring we had a great engineer (Matthew Neighbour is the unofficial ‘6th’ member of Hey Frankie). We didn’t actually set out to make the EP. We started with recording “Werewolf” , and intended to release this before we performed at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. We held off on the release, and did two more songs (Moving On, Time Fades). Everything was coming along really nicely, and rather than release three singles, we decided to do a further two tunes (Guess Who and Out Of My Hands) and have a new EP. We wanted to create something that could be enjoyed as a complete listening experience, so we used elements of our jam sessions as instrumental interludes to segue between tracks.
Success, what is the secret to it?
Engaging a fan base so that they are/in some way feel part of everything you do. We consider our fan base (the frankie family) as an extension of the band. With their support, we are already succeeding. It doesn’t matter if the support has been that someone comes to every show, knows our tunes well, or has just heard of us. We’re a band that embraces everyone, just as we embrace all kinds of music. Success wouldn’t mean much if there wasn’t anyone to share it with.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
We’ve had a few nice moments, starting with reaching the top of Triple J unearthed with our first EP, getting two tracks selected for a film score (“Love Your Sister”) which has been national TV a few times, playing to a full house at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, releasing our EP to a packed house at Boney, and getting more attention both at home and in the US. These are wonderful highlights, however, we only feel like this is the beginning, and there is a lot of work to be done.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
We’re inspired by artists who break boundaries, who write and produce music with a strong message, and accordance with their artistic vision. Some of these artists include Erykah Badu, Little Dragon, Radiohead, Herbie Hancock, Flying Lotus, Robert Glasper. We’d like to add that we’re also heavily influenced by a long line of masters of the past.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
We’ll be spending this year writing new songs, collating new jams for another EP released. More on this as the year progresses!
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
Playing the festival circuit, both domestically and hopefully with a few overseas opportunities; Playing bigger support slots and headline shows, showcases, and, releasing our first feature length album.
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
We’re very inspired by the talented pool of musicians coming out of Melbourne: Hiatus Kaiyote, Kirkis, 30/70, UP UP AWAY.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
The industry is what it is. As an independent group, we focus on what we need to do to get our music sounding the way we want, and we follow our plan on how we’ll get it out there, both through our own means of distribution as well as with the help of third parties. Social media certainly helps, its perhaps our biggest way to engage and communicate with our fans.
Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today?
Thanks for having us! We’ll be playing our first headline show for 2015 this Thursday (March 5th) at The Curtin Hotel (29 Lygon Street Carlton), with a top line up featuring Trick Dog Syndicate and Papa G and the Starcats!

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