Q & A: Frank James
Finely tuned and delicately crafted folk music is what Frank James has come to build in recent times. Killah is a recent example of his rejection to traditional folk moods—showcasing his ability to revive the sound in new and exciting ways. We spoke to the artist about folk music means to him and how the track’s foreboding percussive elements came to be.
What does folk music mean to you in 2019?
Folk music to me is about story telling that’s what it’s always been about for me. We just have more tools and trick to do it now. Sometimes it’s not going to sound a lot like the more traditional stuff but I’m still just telling stories.
What are some ways you’re trying to shake up this very old music genre?
I don’t think I’m intentionally trying to shake up the genre. I’m just telling my storys the way I feel they should be told and sometimes that requires sounds that are little less traditional
The percussion and production on the track was the standout for me. Talk about the creation of those sounds?
The song is about some devastating woman so I wanted to add something to it that kind of just slaps you in the face but also feels good. Initially I’d just beat on my guitar to get the sound but we layered some kicks over that and then for the clap/snare sound. We found a clap I liked, whacked some reverb on it, reversed it so that the tail end starts whooshes up and then ‘snap’ you get that really punchy clap sound (if that makes any sense). We also threw a few more claps over that and used a tambourine wrapped in a t-shirt and would slam it onto the wooden floor in time with the claps.
Do you start creating your songs with a raw, acoustic cut then build from there?
Yeah, most of my songs start on guitar then build from there. It usually goes guitar then melody then lyrics—sometimes melody first but usually guitar.
How does this sound translate live?
It translates well live. I can either loop the percussion by beating the body of the guitar or, if I’m playing with my drummer, he can easily replicate the produced beat with some kick and snare or I just play it as I wrote it me and my guitar no percussion at all it still tells the same story.
The song about the power a woman can have you. Are you speaking of a specific personal story, or just broadly?
The song’s not about one person in particular, although it is written that way. It’s more about just that scenario or feeling of wanting something or someone you know is so bad for you but you just cant leave it alone—you’re powerless.
What does 2019 hold for you?
2019, I’ve got many more stories to tell and a few friends to help me tell them. I can’t wait to play some shows with my new band and release what we’ve been working on!