I recently got the privilege to speak with new and upcoming electronic duo, FRAEA about their debut EP Bend Your Bones.
Q: Your debut EP Bend Your Bones just released! How are you feeling? What has the experience of writing, performing, and releasing the album been like?
Jessie: We are feeling really good, We are self-managing right now, so there are a lot of moving parts to juggle at any given time, but I think we are pretty decent jugglers most days. Writing these songs was a beautiful process, truly. Speaking for myself, I have almost always written songs in solitude, so it has been a whole different experience sharing that creative space so closely with another person and watching a song come to life with somebody else present. Working with Drew and collaborating with other people with the goal of actually putting something into the world forced me to hear things in a song that I would not have heard while writing alone in my attic, for myself. Same goes for getting ready for live performance, and for the performance itself. I’ve found that growth is inevitable in all of these areas, albeit uncomfortable at times, if the feedback you get along the way is confronted with an open heart. Drew and I have both experienced that, and I think as a result, have each grown pretty significantly during this process, a great creative side effect of pushing yourself out of familiar and safe territory. But the short answer is “Really good! Really good!”
Drew: To echo Jessie, yeah, feeling great – ready for these tunes to finally get out into the world. The process has been the most enjoyable writing experience that I’ve ever been a part of. Collaborative, organic, passionate, unexpected, and fulfilling. And the relationships we’ve built not just with each other but with other collaborators, both live and in studio, have been so satisfying.
Q: Let’s talk about Fraea’s outfit. How did Fraea and the sound come to be?
Drew: The two of us came together through a mutual friend. Both of us had been in previous bands and we were both taking our time getting back into that space, and I think both of us did so with heed. After months of sending demos+emails back and forth we decided to meet and create. The sound came after lots of experimentation. Just trying different sounds+tempos+genres+instrumentation and seeing what felt right. The skeleton of every song was created with the two of us in the same room initially, and then I’d develop and tweak over the course of a few days, sometimes a few weeks/months, with the intention of defining our sound. I think we’ve narrowed in on that a bit but I also think it will always be evolving + morphing.
Q: Bend Your Bones is a delightfully atmospheric and empathetic piece – immersive, catchy, rhythmic tunes without being overbearing or distant. Can you talk to us a bit about the album’s story and how the sound reflects it?
Jessie: Drew and I met and started writing together right after I had my second child. It was a very empowering and tender time but also an exhausting, and very vulnerable time for me. I was feeling really desperate to hold onto myself within the maze of mothering, and making a decision to pursue music more intimately and intentionally served that purpose. I think that both the rawness of that era of life as well as the passion and the sense of feminine fierceness and drive I was trying to keep alive came out in these songs. I was navigating past and present conflict, uncertainty, and inner unrest interwoven with such intense love and gratitude – and, I guess also trying to hold onto my sensual self – all while changing diapers and giving baths and walking around like a bat zombie. It was a circus. So. These songs, this music, was my postpartum therapy, my relationship therapy, my act of rebellion against myself for having the urge to walk away from my passions. Most of the songs on this album, at least on the surface, are about desire – for love, sex, presence, clarity, courage – but I think each one is multi-layered in that there are several meanings and angles that each of them occupy differently every time I listen. The sounds that Drew crafted and that Danny (O’brien –co-producer) later added just seemed like a call and response dance to what I was feeling and working through at the time. They always hit me as very dark but also really lush and lovely and strange and cathartic and just seemed to bring to life the way I was feeling inside.
Drew: I think both of us were in a vulnerable place when we met. I was coming out of a project that I’d been apart of for almost a decade and was taking a bit of a life pivot at the time, and the music I was creating was a lot calmer, softer, and darker than anything I had ever made before. It was a very restorative experience and I think that is reflected in the tonalities and the overall vibe.
Q: What are some of your all’s music inspirations, or just favorite stuff to listen to in general to get you in a good mood?
Jessie: I have always loved Metric, Emily Haines is such a cool ass woman, so I do love throwing on her tunes and boppin around. I have also been loving Rihanna, is that a given? And Empress Of. She is the shit. Inspiration-wise for me it is a bit about sound but a lot about the power or courage of a strong female voice. Fever Ray, Laurie Anderson, Kristin Hersch from Throwing Muses, FKA Twigs. Those women or the women behind those projects are the ones who might cause me to turn into a wide-eyed, speechless teenager if I had the opportunity to meet them live. But they all have, in different ways and on different levels, continued to make me want to keep making music throughout the years.
Drew: I come from a pretty varied background and my tastes are always changing but lately it’s been Jon Hopkins, Tycho, Boards of Canada, Jamie XX, Chvrches, Purity Ring, FKA Twigs, A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Sia, Ellie Gouldin, Spazzkid, Chrome Sparks, Classix, Radiohead, Frank Ocean, Tame Impala, SOHN, Shigeto, Jessie Ware, Lionel Richie, Beach House, Arca aaaaand Justin Bieber to name a few.
Q: How is the music making process? The beats to the tracks are sometimes seemingly unpredictable, futuristic and surprising. Is the making of the music meticulously planned and calculated or is it more organic, created on the fly as the inspiration comes?
Drew: I mentioned this before but it’s all pretty organic. I’m always collecting inspiration through Spotify playlists and things people send me and in addition I’ll record ideas into my phone when I get them, but once we’re in the studio it usually just kind of moves on it’s own from scratch. At the very least I may have an idea in my head of a tempo, feel, key, etc, but once it starts we just kind of follow it and see where it heads.
Jessie: We both stay pretty involved in each other’s process. Drew often comes up with a melody for a part that I wouldn’t have heard, or I come up with a rhythm idea, or give tones thumbs up/thumbs down. It’s very back and forth and we usually end up losing track of who offered what idea or nuance but for the most part, it is Drew at the desk forming the heart of the beats and me on the couch whisper-singing lyrics and melodies until we both think we have something that sounds interesting enough to rope together and it either flops or flies.
Q: You just played some of your first shows with Poliça. What was it like playing with them? How do you think you will grow as musicians as you continue to play more and more on stage?
Jessie: Channy (lead vocalist – Poliça) is an important force in my life and I adore what she has done with Polica. It was an honor that she invited us to take part during that run of shows. It lit a fire under Drew and I to get a live band together and get a sense of what our live presentation would look and sound like, as we were kind of comfortably immersed in our writing sessions at the time, and it may have taken us a lot longer to break that cozy rhythm had she not presented us with the opportunity. I think our live set is still evolving and we will experiment with a lot of different sounds and approaches as we work our way to a place we feel solid about. I have never fronted a band and I find myself feeling very empowered and very willing to be emotionally raw in front of an audience while singing and dancing but between songs I have no idea what to say and have the voice and confidence of a baby deer so that is a work in progress.
Q: The cover art for Bend Your Bones, and even for the single “Criminal” is gorgeous and visually striking. What’s the idea behind it?
Drew: The music has many elements of wetness – not just in the effects, because everything is soaked in verb (thanks Valhalla Shimmer), but also in the content of the lyrics. It’s very sensual music and we wanted to find an artistic way to conceptualize that without being heavy handed but instead cathartic and moving. Liquid became the obvious choice so we bought a bunch of acrylic paint and mixed it with heavy whipping cream (for that added human element) and shot it into a fishtank. The intention was to look human, on a macro level, while still providing the viewer a sort of hey-what-do-you-see-in- those-clouds kind of anonymity. But sex. It’s mostly about sex.
Q: What’s the next step after the release? More live shows, more writing?
Drew: We feel like our element is creating in the studio, so we’ve already got another batch of songs ready to go for something new and have started writing again to either add to that next project or for something beyond. We love performing live too, given the right setting, so we’re trying to curate a small collection of shows to play in the next year that resonate with our sound and feel meaningful. The music feels like a lights out, spooky vibe, so yeah, just trying to make that happen in the right places at the right times.
You can listen to the EP on Spotify or on Soundcloud here: