Frivolous has toured the globe playing an eclectic array of venues and festivals along the way. His live shows have been hailed for their energy, originality and ingenuity as he's taken the stage next to some of the most respected names in the business. Releasing on the accomplished Cadenza label among others. Never compromising the art of showman-ship, these spectacles feature live keyboards and vocals as well as the incorporation of his DIY aesthetic. Integrating homemade devices such as the "Frivolous Patented Electromagnetic knife", the "Broken-Ruler Music Box" and the Double "Cable-Tub" Bass, his sets are injected with a sense of fantasy, imagination and personality scarcely found elsewhere in modern electronic dance music. No wonder he caught Luciano's attention and ours. Heading to Australia soon for Subsonic Emily Tullock got some time with the well spoken, eccentric and at times brutally honest Frivolous for Pulse.
Pulse: What music did you listen to growing up? Frivolous: A pretty various melange. Back in Canada my dad was into Folk-Rock and Blue Grass stuff like The Guess Who, Judy Collins, Gordon Lightfoot, Willie Nelson etc. My mom, was pretty much all about Gospel and church music. I went through a lot of phases. Pop, Grunge, Punk, and finally I discovered electronic music and very quickly the psychedelic sides, like Future Sounds of London, Chemical Brothers etc. Then later I branched out into multiple obsessions with house and experimental kraut rock type stuff.
How does your background in classical piano inform your music? A lot! I’ve tried to run away from it for a long time, because it can manifest your approaches to writing music when you are always thinking in key-signatures and stuff. Electronic music is not so often defined by such traditional ideas. So sometimes it’s a hinderance, but I think I’m starting to find a balance between both worlds.
You describe your sound as 'DIY electronic music'- what's the DIY element about? It’s kind of a philosophy. I like to leave traces of the human hand in, what is sometimes, a very sterile and synthetic form of music. I like to use what I have at hand and I love to build instruments both physically and digitally. I think it’s nice when you hear a context of the environment in which the music was created. Once I even finished a track and thought it didn’t sound “real” enough. So I just played it out the speaker and recorded it again with microphones so that it captured the entire sound of room. When you listened to it on headphones, you felt like you were literally in the room with me when I was making it.
How did you get involved with Cadenza Records? Switzerland is a long way from Canada. Indeed it is. Actually the first club promoter to ever fly my to Europe was Thomas Gilgen for his legendary ‘Dachkantine’ Club in Zurich. I was completely unknown, but he was convinced that I was already contributing something valuable, and he booked me along-side Villalobos and Atom TM and amazing acts like that.
Regarding Cadenza, well I don’t think they had any idea what I was doing for all these years, but somehow I got the email from Luciano and was persistent to send him tracks that I thought he would be interested in. I didn’t dump everything on him, but maybe once per year I would send a track for about four years I think. Eventually he bit on the track C:\My Consciousness and we did the Couples Therapy EP.
You're based in Berlin now, were you drawn there because of the music scene? Actually correct that. I don't live in Berlin anymore, I just moved into a cabin at the base of the French Alps close to Mont Blanc. Berlin is done. Well for me anyways. It’s too full of hipster tourists who are ultra-conservative under the surface, and a lot of lost souls with no direction in life. I mean, I did learn a lot there, but the lessons are over, and I’m ready to get back to doing things my way. It was like doing a degree called “electronic music in practical application”. Sometimes interesting, sometimes kind of boring, but very educational.
What do your live shows involve? What exactly are the "Frivolous Patented Electromagnetic knife" and the "Broken-Ruler Music Box"? Those are two very out dated “Contraptions” of mine.
What about ‘Delphine’ the robotic xylophone, or the ‘Frivo-lozical’ bicycle powered spring-reverb DJ FX? I mean ‘The Knife’ has become a staple in the live show, partially because it’s dramatic and loaded with metaphore, and partially because it’s reliable and small enough to carry easily in my suitcase. These days I haven’t had much extra time for building ‘Contraptions’, but I’ve drawn up a plan for a new one that I think will be hilarious, and also pretty mind blowing.
You've said that your sound is for both dancing and living alike, what are your own personal favourite dance moves? Ha! I don’t know what they would be called actually. Let’s see. There is the one where you grab one foot and pump your knee out. That’s a classic. I guess my favourite dance moment was when somebody introduced me to the miracle of baby-powder. I know it sounds strange, but if you put baby powder on a wooden dance-floor, you can really get some amazing foot work going. I think that is my favourite kind of dancing. Where the body stays more stationary and the legs carry your across the floor in a complex display of slides and spins.
What would you be doing if you weren't making music? Yeah I’ve often pondered that too.... I think it would be something that kind of messes with peoples heads like maybe a street performer of some kind. Maybe a magician, or something in a circus, or maybe just a psychologist or something that studies people. Sometimes I look at making music like an experiment in psychology. I really find myself obsessed with observing and understanding peoples motivations and emotions. Sometimes a little too much actually.
Is the Subsonic music festival your first time playing in Australia? Who else are you looking forward to seeing there? I actually have to admit, I’m not quite sure about my itinerary in Australia. I’m currently playing an average of about three shows per week, sometimes four or even more. So I only check where I’m playing on the weekend once I’ve unpacked and done some laundry from the weekend ending.
I did play a couple times in Australia. Once for the Mad Racket guys at one of their “un-promoted” parties in Sydney. Which was actually amazing I remember they took over this lawn-bowling club and brought in this massive sound-system and this super-intense rock-concert-esque light show. That one goes down in the history books for me, so I am very excited to be coming back again.
What's next for Frivolous? I’m not sure actually. I am finding this move to the mountains is providing a lot of inspiration. It was exactly the move I needed to make. So I think that once I can dedicate some time and figure out all this gear that I recently bought and switched to using, I will have a more steady stream of releases instead of this pattern of releasing in waves. Maybe some more Cadenza, maybe another label, maybe I’ll write and produce some pop collaborations, let’s see.
Australian Tour Dates:
18.11 RAINBOW SERPENT LAUNCH PARTY, SYDNEY, NSW
19.11 SHINE ON FESTIVAL, PYRENEES, VIC
25.11 RED BENNIES, MELBOURNE, VIC
26.11 CUCKTOO BAR, ADELAIDE, SA
03.12 SUBSONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL, NEWCASTLE, NSW
Win a double pass to Subsonic here.