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
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most