Interview With Frankie Raye


Who is Frankie Raye?
Hi! I’m a singer/songwriter currently living in Clearwater, FL. I grew up in Midwestern Ohio, but relocated to Florida before entering high school. Aside from performing and writing music, I enjoy cooking, drawing, and being around animals (I have a mega-soft spot for animals). I am pretty shy for the most part; I would say I have a bit of social anxiety and nervousness that I am continuously trying to overcome, but I have no problems performing in front of audiences. I am passionate about justice and fairness, I can’t stand show-offs, and I always root for the under-dog. 
How did you get into music?
I come from a pretty musical family – my mother was a singer/guitarist in a band up until I was born (sorry, Mom), my father was a singer/guitarist/drummer, and I have a handful of aunts and uncles who are still musicians to this day in their own bands. My brother is also the lead guitarist in the band Foxy Shazam, which had some success a few years back. I mostly grew up in musical theater, but I quickly found my passion for songwriting growing stronger. I began playing gigs around 2013, and slowly kept it up for the next few years, playing at restaurants and coffee shops on the weekends. In 2015, I graduated with my MA in Elementary Education. Unlike my colleagues, though, I did not go on job interviews after graduation, and instead decided to become a full-time musician. From there, I was regularly performing a few times a week with a few musicians I had met. My circle of musicians started growing, as did the gig opportunities. I started linking up with them to record and release my own original music, and that’s where I am at now! 
Who are your Biggest influences?
I am really inspired by anyone who works their way from the bottom to the top. There are a few local musicians in Florida who I kind of “follow around” who have started out just like me, but are now playing large stages and festivals and touring the country. My brother is one of those musicians, so he’s a huge inspiration to me. I remember watching him put a band together with no support or money or anything, yet by working hard and not giving up, he managed to create a nice career in music. This probably sounds terrible, but I get a little disappointed when I find out that an inspirer of mine had some rare leg-up (maybe their parents were super rich and funded their demos, or they dated someone who was in the business and that person connected them to all the right people, or their uncle worked for Capitol Records or something). I am inspired by anyone who works hard. 
What is your writing process like?
More often than not, my process starts with melodies first. Usually, I come up with some chord progressions first, and then play around with the melodies that I like. Once I get a good vibe going and I decide how I want the song to sound, I then work on lyrics. Lyrics take me forever, haha. I am very picky about how I want everything to sound – everything down to the cadence or rhythm of the lyrics is carefully constructed. For example, I may want my verse to be really wordy, so I’ll decide the rhythm of that and figure out how to squeeze all the words in so it makes sense. I try to create lyrics in a similar style to Hip Hop songs – they always have these cool little creative rhyme schemes, and they speak to the rhythms and beats, so I try to emulate that. 
This year you released your latest track Theodora which we recently played, what is the track about?
The overall theme of the song is just about courage and saying “F-you” to jerks, haha. The story is that after one of my performances, a guy at the bar became upset with me that I wouldn’t go sit with him and talk. Except, he wasn’t wanting to talk about normal things, or ask about my music. He was doing that sloppy, drunk, cat-calling thing and I was already tired and I just ignored him. He grew upset that I wasn’t accepting his advances, and it pissed me off so badly! Haha. I thought, “What do I owe you, dude? I am not obligated to let you slobber all over me.” So I kind of took the song from there, and I started calling out people who take their insecurities out on other people (specifically, insecure grown men who get mad when a female doesn’t stroke their ego). As far as using Theodora as a focus, I honestly can’t remember when exactly that idea popped into my brain, but the song was written quickly, almost like a stream of consciousness kind of thing. 

What has been the best venue you have played at so far?

Oooh. Well, the Hard Rock Cafe was pretty exciting. The stage is huge, the venue is notable, and the crowd was SO supportive. I had never played on a large stage with just myself and my guitar. And everyone clapped and cheered! It was really cool. I had played on large stages with my band before, but those were usually festivals with continuous foot traffic coming through, so no one really stayed from start to finish. 

How would you change the music Industry?

I’d get rid of anyone who thinks that music is nothing more than a product. I get that it’s a business, and your album of songs is a type of product to some extent, but it just blows my mind that something as simple as your physical appearance can completely strip you of all opportunities, despite how talented you may or may not be. I saw this video of a guy hosting a seminar about how to “write a hit song”. It was all this b.s, like “The title should be no less than seven syllables”, or “Use words like ‘Baby’ and address the listener in the first verse by using the word ‘you’”, or “Songs about drinking and dancing are in now, write about that”. It’s so calculated and plastic and superficial. I would definitely change that. We live in an age where anyone can have access to any type of music they want, so, you don’t have to follow these dumb rules about what “makes a hit. song”. Just write what you want, and your audience will find you. There aren’t a lot of people writing from the heart, and I think that should become a thing again. I have no interest in becoming mainstream, though, so maybe that’s why I feel this way, haha. 

Who would you like to collaborate with?

Besides a few big names, like Billy Joel and Joni Mitchell, I really would like to write with Daphne Willis. I really dig her melodies, and her lyrics and really clever, too. Eric Hutchinson is another favorite of mine for those same reasons. I like to think of myself as the girl version of him, haha. 

What has lockdown been like for you?
Don’t remind me! Haha. No, it was a bit rough in the beginning. I have been playing 25+ shows a month for the past 4 years, so to have it all come to a halt was tough. It was a blessing in disguise though – I have learned that I need other things to do besides music. I don’t have to be a musician 100% of my waking life, and I need to find other projects and hobbies. Cooking became on of them during the lockdown, which I really enjoy now! I started gardening too, but I found out that I suck at that, haha. I also started getting out and jogging, which I haven’t done since my 10th grade P.E classes, so about 15 years now, haha. 

Whats Next for You?
I am continuing to write music, and I would love to get started on (and release) an album in 2021. I originally hoped for this year, but now that it’s August, it’s a bit too late (and I don’t want to be rushed). I am, however, going to be filming my first music video soon. The video will be for the title track of my latest album, “Brave”. I think in today’s cultural and political climate, it’s appropriate to release a song about hope for the future. We’ve been through so much together (“we” as in the human race), and I think we forget that we are fundamentally connected, which is what the song is about.