Frankmusik - Bigger than hype

Vincent Frank, aka Frankmusik, has received plenty of positive press attention already, but he's confident that he doesn't need it. Rob Sharp meets an assured new talent

In a recording studio in Putney, south-west London, Vincent Frank, also known as Frankmusik, stands behind a stack of keyboards. His head is bowed to one side as he focuses on belting out the words to his new single, "Better Off as Two". Alongside him, Mika's former musical director Mike Choi plays another keyboard, and towards the back of the room, Martin Carling (who drums with Groove Armada) is busily keeping pace.

If you were to sit down on a sofa opposite this group of merry bandits, you would be close to the spot occupied a week previously by Frankmusik's fellow pop time-traveller La Roux. Frank, 23, says she snuck in secretly to size up her competition, and if the hype is to be believed, the flame-haired NME favourite has reason to be worried (Frank told the NME last month that he thought she was "La Rude"). MTV call Frank a "hotly tipped solo star" and elsewhere he has been called a "bleeptastic alien", though this was two years ago, when he says he had only produced early demos. Since then he has DJ'd with the Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac, charmed Choi and Carling along with several high-ranking record-company execs, hitchhiked from Loch Ness to Brighton using just his MySpace friends, and unleashed a richly received EP on the world in November, "3 Little Words". The press release which accompanied the "3 Little Words" release was written by Paul Morley, and drew comparisons between Frankmusik and the "art-crazed, high-minded, perfectionist pop stars" of the 1980s, such as Soft Cell and the Human League. Now, Frank's hotly awaited album is to be released in July, and he is currently shooting the video to his next single, "Confusion Girl", also out in July.

"One thing I have always said to the label [Island Records] and myself is that I want to get there as a result of actual success," says Frank, exhaling cigarette smoke and sitting on a battered sofa outside the studio. "People who came down to the Barfly gig [a recent performance in Camden] could see for themselves. Hype is a dangerous thing. I feel sorry for people who have to deal with so much of it. It's only the beginning of the year – it's a waiting game now." He peppers his speech with brazen statements of intent. The Barfly gig was sponsored by Time Out. "Thanks for that but I never read your magazine," he said on stage, a two-fingered salute to every hype-maker in the room.

Frank had a "stiff Victorian upbringing" at the hands of his grandfather, who sent him to a series of public schools, two of which he was expelled from. He says he was asked to leave one of these institutions because of "attention problems"; he also claims one headmaster slapped him because he was so annoying. His mother was adopted, apparently, and became pregnant with Frank after a decade of suffering from agoraphobia. Apart from that, he told The Sunday Times last month that his uncle was one of the first people in Britain to have a sex change, and that his mum and dad split up on their wedding day, at the reception.

Such vicissitudes don't come across when you meet him – he seems together and vastly ambitious. Regarding the music, he says he had a classical musical education, supplemented by his mother's late-1970s disco and 1980s pop singles. He was forbidden from listening to more modern music, which might help explain the time warp in his sound.

"I listened to music from 10 years before I was born," he continues. "I grew up with that and kind of developed my own love for house music in my mid-teens when I heard the Daft Punk Homework album in 1997." He says he bought himself a sound studio when he was 17. And he began beatboxing, too, which was presumably not an easy transition. Despite his style – he looks like a character from a William Gibson novel – he is still extremely well spoken.

"The reception I got bothered me to the point where I gave it up," he says. "It was just people from the beatbox community being possessive. They didn't like intruders like me. One time it was horrific. I had the whole front row saying I was rubbish before I had even started. The thing is, you are up against people who are ignorant. All you can say is that you are trying to make music. I don't need to prove what I can do to anyone but myself. These people aren't worth fighting – they already have their own battle going on within themselves."

He took the name Frank two years ago when his grandfather passed on (it isn't clear whether this is a stage name or officially adopted). He says that although a lot of his music sounds 1980s, he has only co-opted the "essence" of the period rather than the clichés (that said, the video to "3 Little Words" features him prancing around an oversized keyboard like Tom Hanks in Big). "That was when we were struggling with who I was. We just wanted to put out something that was crazy and bonkers and it was a lot of fun to do. The next single's video is a lot higher standard and there's no gimmick or naked woman and it's just me performing. It's a lot more pop."

"3 Little Words" is not a romantic paean to telling a loved one how you feel. Besides his mother, his other muse is his ex-girlfriend Olivia, whom he met on their last day at St Martin's College of Art. They fell into a relationship when he was at the London College of Fashion and she was at Glasgow University.

"'3 Little Words' is about not being able say 'I love you'," he explains. "The whole album is about Olivia. "However horrific the outcome of that relationship, it was deeply passionate. We were rowing the whole time. I never communicated my feelings with her, I communicated it in the studio. Regarding the songs, I try to keep things bittersweet. I want to trick the listener into something that is moody but packaged quite colourfully. My ex hates all the interviews I do because she thinks people will look for her online but I've gone past caring what she thinks." He says finding things to write about is difficult when things are going well, saying he can understand why artists such as Amy Winehouse go off the rails.

What of the future? "I wouldn't mind getting into some acting. For anyone to stay creative you have to live a bit of life," he concludes. "Things become calculated as soon as you know a method. It's not play, it's an equation. If you throw yourself into a different creative dilemma, you are using a different part of your brain. So you have to work stuff out and problem solve. If I have nothing to talk about and sing about, I need to go out and live." By the sounds of it, he's done plenty of that already.

Frankmusik plays at the Selfridges 100 Celebrations on 22 May and supports Pet Shop Boys in June

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced