Frith fed us a new single called “Daisies” using a unique blend of electronic indie pop. I use “electronic indie pop” lightly, because Frith dips into a few other genres. Cascades of orchestral instrumentation are melted over sluggish lo-fi vocal bars.
The song is riddled with ironic wordplay and a jigsaw puzzle of different instrumental shades. I have a sweet spot for the line that mentions “pain by numbers”. Instrumentally, the song presents itself like the inner-workings of a clock, featuring interesting arrangement choices for a pop record.
Certain sounds make me envision post-apocalyptic advertisements that read “mellotron for the modern age”, meaning there are some tasty vintage-inspired synth patches at work. Audibly, Frith cuts like a surgeon with two heads – sonically precise.
Lyrically, Frith delivers the song as if he were reading a story of triumph and longing. It’s a clever way to express pain, and I find it fun to listen and interpret. If it weren’t for the crystal clarity, I don’t know if I’d spend the time pondering reflections.
“This place is not for broken hearts, it’s built on make believe.”
“Daisies” struts funny at first, but once you invite it in, it will steadily become a curious song to listen to.
You guys know the deal; we caught up with Travis Warner to learn more!
You have a really unique style. What are some of your influences?
I draw from a lot of stuff I think. Some of it I’m aware of and some of it I don’t realize until someone says “Hey you sound like __”. Just recently someone said my music reminds them of ELO. I would never have thought that but I do love them and have listened to them a lot, so I’m sure they influenced me in some way. I love The Beatles, Elvis Costello, Buddy Holly, and The Beach Boys, but when I’m recording I’m usually referencing someone like Dr. Dre, or Radiohead or Beck. It’s a hodgepodge I guess.
When did you start developing your songwriting style?
I’ve been writing songs my whole life really, but I do remember writing a song called Ho Hum and thinking maybe I had discovered my style. I just like to try to expand people’s imagination. If I can make people think a little bit more creatively and a little bit more outside the box I’m happy with myself. It takes a bit of imagination to see the world as you want it to be rather than in its current state, so if I can help with that in any way I think I’m doing my job as an artist.
You’re a self-taught instrumentalist. Did you teach yourself arrangement and orchestration as well?
Kind of yeah. I think self-taught is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t think anything is self taught really, unless you invent it. Even if you’re learning from YouTube there’s still someone who took the time to make the video on how to play Stairway to Heaven so you could impress your friends at parties. I mostly learned instruments from reading books or learning online or asking friends.
With arrangement, orchestration and conducting I never took any classes or anything, but I worked for the arranger/composer David Campbell for 8 years though, and he is an absolute genius. I think when you’re around someone like that you can’t help but pick up on things. The first arrangement I did was for a band Demo Team. I stayed up all night figuring out each chord and note for the strings to play. I’ve always had a good ear so when it came to writing orchestral music, I just played the notes that I liked, and skipped the ones that I didn’t.
The list of instruments you’re familiar with is pretty cool. How did you come to learn the guillotine harp?
Yeah I love how many different sounds and textures are available. There are so many instruments it’s sometimes hard to choose which one to use. I found the guillotine harp when I was in France with my mom. Apparently they played it at the execution of Marie Antoinette.
Do you have an instrument you gravitate towards when it comes time to write music?
When I’m writing, I typically gravitate towards guitar or piano, but on this record I tried something different. Every song started with a programmed drum beat and a bass line. I sketched those parts out as the foundation for each song and then went through and finished them. It was a really interesting experience because I sometimes wrote myself into a corner. With guitar or piano, I’m writing the melody and chords at the same time, and I can change the chords on a whim if I decide on a different melody. But with a drum beat and bass, I found it sometimes difficult to backtrack and change the chord progression once I had begun. I think these songs would have turned out very different had I written them on guitar or piano. Or maybe not. I guess we’ll never know.
As a lyricist, what are some of the things you hope to convey to your fans?
As a lyricist I’m really going after creative thought. I want people to think creatively and imagine things in a different and creative way. I love puns and logic that winds around in circles or rambles. Like Harry Nilsson’s “Think About Your Troubles”. That song is so brilliant and fun to visualize. Or sometimes I’m just trying to point out that things don’t have to be what they seem. Imagination can be a fun game. Kids are good at that stuff.
What was it like working with David Campbell? How did it impact you?
Working with David was an absolutely incredible experience. As brilliant and hard working as he is, he is also one of the nicest and most playful people you will ever meet. He is the hardest working guy I know, and he inspires everyone around him to really push the limits, but at the same time he always has this twinkle in his eye like he’s still 6 years old, playing in the mud. I really learned every inch of the music industry with him, and I learned to do it with a light heart and to keep it fun. It should never be too serious.
What kind of music do you enjoy listening to casually?
I’m always looking for something fresh and new that will inspire me. Recently I’ve been listening to Steady Holiday, Willoughby, and Anima!. My friends have been coming out with some amazing music too. Loyal Lobos, STF, Fiona Grey. They’re all very different but so good. I love hearing my friends’ music.
If you could enjoy a candlelit dinner with one of your favorite music artists, who would it be and why?
I think I would like to have a candlelit dinner with Taylor Swift. She’s such a babe. I could use more romance in my life.
Do you have any plans for 2019 that you can share with us (releases, tours, etc.)?
I’ll be releasing my album, PARROT, in March! I’m figuring out a tour for that right now. I also want to write an orchestral album and play with student orchestras at universities. A rap album would be fun too. I have a lot of ideas. Sometimes too many.
For more Frith, visit www.frithmusic.com
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