Unpack the camera, set the autotimer – and say hello to Frantastic’s new album cover. Multi-talented Mixed Tape 26 contributor Fran Koletzki produced her debut all on her own … and is mighty proud of the result
Surrounded by sound since early childhood – Fran Koletzki has been soaking up music with her mother’s milk, yet without any parental pressure or well-meant piano/violin lessons. Completely self-taught, Fran playfully explored the world of sound in her own unconstrained and free-spirited way. After guitar strummings and punk band vocals, Fran tried her hand at sound engineering, yet soon decided her preferred place was in front of the microphone and not behind a mixing desk. But it should take a concerted MySpace hype to convince her to take the plunge and go pro after her self-produced songs caused a stir on the net.
Oscillating between studies of psychology and musical ventures, her voice graced Oliver Koletzki’s songs and those of their joint project The Koletzkis, yet one thing was missing on her musical scorecard – a solo project all of her own. Removed from the club and dancefloor context, Fran decided to give her fragile and idiosyncratic gems a new life and home with the entirely self-produced outlet Frantastic.
We love her new sound – and the singer herself. Lively, likeable, down-to-earth and most of all authentic, she invited us to meet her at the album‘s Berlin photo shoot and later asked us to join her for an afternoon gallery outing with a friend. Over coffee she told us all about the album and that she can’t even remember the last time she saw the inside of a club!
Your single Arcade Love explores the theme of being soulmates; love at first sight, so to speak! Anything you would like to share?
Arcade Love is about that brief moment when your eye catches that of someone you don’t know and it feels like you can see all the way into their soul. But we don’t know what the viewer may find! While it might be love at first sight, it could also be something frightening or confusing. Arcade Love is about projections, i. e. all those desires and fantasies we tend to project onto others. Personally speaking, I don’t believe in love at first sight – love is far too complex an emotion. For example, it took my husband and me many months to fall in love.
What is your favourite song on the album and why?
I guess Cheesecake Mountain is the most idiosyncratic song on my album. I like how well the track’s natural instruments, like the double bass, and its synthetic sound elements blend in the mix. The song takes me to its own realm of sound. It’s like a journey. To me, this piece works like modern jazz, with each echo and effect on every word claiming its own deliberate and thoughtful place. In terms of lyrics, the song is a warning to myself: A more mature Fran warns its younger incarnation not to keep chasing people that are not good for her. When I played the song to my friends they told me it reminded them of Björk. A great compliment!
Both your album and videos are self-produced. How important is this self-contained DIY approach to you?
I guess the idea of also producing videos came up during the two-year creative run-up to the album’s release. So, when I found myself facing a crystal-clear ocean and the perfect sundown on the Maldives, I thought “this is as good as it gets! And that’s what my song Ocean of You is all about.” So, I simply took out my camera and started to visualise my songs. I am certainly no technical genius and I feel privileged to live in an age where ease-of-use is high up on the list of device features. Most of the video for Psychoanalysis was shot among my balcony plants with a macro lens. It documents a world we usually don’t notice when we look around with our naked eye. I have to admit that I was really surprised by what I found when I saw it all up close!
So, when can we expect to see you up on stage with your new solo venture? Is there a tour in the planning?
There will be a record release concert at Berlin’s Lido club on December 2nd, 2012. After this debut, I am sure you will catch me on plenty of stages and festivals in 2013. Just like the album, the matching show is all my own. I collaborate with some visual artists, musicians and even dancers to whisk the audience away, into my own world, for the show’s entire duration. I am aiming to create an encompassing work of art weaving music, song, visuals and performance into one amazing package.
Which country has had the biggest impact on your creative process – and why?
Japan remains my all-time favourite destination. I love this country because it really succeeds at balancing ancient culture with hypermodernity! I spent quite some time exploring the philosophy of Zen Buddhism, so when I sing “I am no one” (Sunglasses) what I am referring to is the Buddhist concept of the emptiness of being. When I am on business, travelling the world to play some club together with Oliver, I usually only get to see the airport, the hotel and the club itself. If you are lucky, you might also end up in a good local restaurant. That, too, left its mark on my album: Zen Dance explores my ambivalence towards this particular lifestyle.
Three years ago, your song Transformation graced our Mixed Tape 26 compilation. How did the people around you react to this collaboration?
They were really pleased for me – and so was I! It was an important step that really boosted my confidence. Back then, I was still working as a psychologist and had just started training to become a psychoanalyst. So at first I kept my musical successes on the quiet. But when Hypnotized came out, shortly after the Mixed Tape compilation, secrecy was no longer an option.
Name three words that describe your music!
Intuitive, thoughtful, diverse.
What is your favourite soundtrack for chilly days?
Naturally, Chilly Gonzales! Besides producing many songs with Feist and Peaches he has also released two wonderful piano albums, Solo Piano 1 and 2. In some ways, he is a multi-talented Canadian comedian and a self-confessed musical genius. His shows are extremely entertaining and rightfully the stuff of legends. I am already looking forward to next year’s performance with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Do you have a favourite quote by another artist or musician?
While we are on the subject of Chilly Gonzales – when a journalist asked him why he called himself an entertainer and not an artist, he replied: “Well, an artist tends to wank in front of a crowd while the entertainer makes love to his audience!”
Fran Koletzki's debut album Frantastic is out now on Berlin-based label Stil vor Talent.
More information here and on Facebook.
A personal track-by-track album introduction by the singer herself.
Video for Scratch A Goodbye.