From the grittiness of Adelaide’s pub circuit, to the festival limelight, rising cabaret artist Frankly has taken the local industry by storm with her one-woman shows Publicly Private and Big Smoke Fauna. In this interview, the performing arts graduate unravels her experience of navigating the music scene, the development of her musical persona, and the importance of female empowerment.
How would you describe your music?
Well, I feel as though there are two intersections where my music meet. On one hand, there’s a gritty, singer/songwriter, pub vibe to my sound, while the other side is more of a structured, cabaret, festival-focused style. A lot of my songs depict a story, or portray a certain emotion—so there’s also a lot of theatrics. I also like to say I create ‘candid cabaret,’ and I use this term because my shows tend to be more minimal and realistic. I feel like I can speak about real-life situations and engage with my audience through naturalistic storytelling and self-deprecating humour. I think a lot of people’s perception of ‘cabaret’ is this person in a beautiful gown, belting out a tune under a spotlight. But, my music tries to undo much of that.
Who are some of your major influences? Who inspires you?
I have my main trio of ladies, which we (Tanner and I) both share—Mama Reg (Regina Spektor), Björk (who is the ultimate queen of everything), and Amanda Palmer. They’re all massive inspirations to me for different reasons. Björk and Regina are definitely my go-to artists for song writing. Both of them incorporate a
Then, of course, there’s Amanda Palmer. Out of the three, she’s the only one I’ve actually seen live. Watching her onstage was definitely a major learning experience. She’s such a pro at crafting these stories through her music that are funny, yet touching. Other than that, whenever I’m seeking inspiration, I tend to gravitate towards powerful female characters.
When did you realise your passion for music?
I guess I’ve always been into music. There were always pianos around my home, so I used to just sit there and fool around with the keys. This is a bit embarrassing for me to say, but I used the pre-recorded tracks on this Casio keyboard to create songs. I was very much into horses as a young girl (for
I was trained classically for
How do you believe sex and intimacy are connected to your creative process?
I feel like this is such a question for who Frankly was a
It’s interesting you mention that, because I remember when I saw your first show, some (if not all) the songs were really punchy and comedic. Lately, I feel as though there has been a bit of a shift, as it seems you’re producing music that is more beautiful and whimsical. Would I be right in saying there has been a development in your style?
Yeah, there’s definitely been a transition. It’s interesting you described my songs as being ‘punchy’ because I feel like I used to channel all my aggression through music. Everything was quite dramatised. When I started creating shows, I had a lot of shit to process, and felt it was important for myself, and other women, to be hearing these messages of empowerment. While that’s still very much part of my sound, I’ve settled down more. I don’t need to work through these negative experiences anymore because I was able to process them all through my music. Now, I have different things to worry about. With my latest show, Big Smoke Fauna, most of the songs were about more simplistic issues, like moving out, and the pressures of adulthood.
Why do you believe it’s important to have a voice and advocate as an artist?
I feel everybody relates themselves to artists. If you hear a song that raises some issues you might be dealing with, then you identify with it. Sometimes, this can be really validating, especially when you don’t necessarily feel comfortable enough to be talking about it. When you hear someone express how you’re feeling through art, then it helps to know your situation is not entirely unique. I’m the type of person who doesn’t really speak a whole lot about personal issues. I’m a bit of a private person in that sense. But, if I can hear someone describe what I’m feeling through their music, then it’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone. I want my music to achieve that—to be continuing an ongoing conversation about certain issues.
What are your thoughts on Adelaide’s local music scene overall?
I have to be completely honest here and say that I’ve almost dropped out of the local scene. I used to do the weekend gig circuit and perform at pubs, but it seems to be a bit cliquey in some parts. I’m sure that happens everywhere, but Adelaide is such a small place. Everyone in the local scene
In saying that, it becomes harder to develop yourself as an artist in the local
In saying this, do you think the majority of Adelaide are interested in the arts outside of
You know, it’s interesting, because you have these pockets of people who are always engaging with the arts. But then, you have these ‘bullshit munchers’ who are purely showing up to festivals to just have that experience of buying an overpriced cocktail and sit in a beer garden. These same sorts of people are also seeing more popularised shows and aren’t interested in engaging with the local scene. This sort of thing happens with other art forms too, I guess. For example, people will watch Netflix
What piece of advice would you give to any aspiring musician?
I’m notoriously bad at self-motivation. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was a lapdog in a previous life. But, at the same time, I’m always in the mindset of wanting to push myself and pursue more things. So, I guess my advice would be to just do it. Every time I’ve performed at a Fringe Festival, I booked my season, without necessarily having a show planned. For me, it’s what I need,
I would also say to not overthink about what you’re doing. For me, if I’m watching an artist, I’m not looking for technical skills, or how well they can sing. I tend to gravitate towards the imperfections in people because it shows they’ve filtered out these bullshit expectations. They’re just uniquely themselves. So, my advice would be to not get so caught up with reaching a certain standard. Focus on the aspects of your music that come naturally to you and discover your own artistic voice. It makes you more distinctive. People aren’t wanting to see a regurgitation of someone else’s style.
Can we expect anything new on the horizon? Do you have any upcoming projects?
I think the next step for me is to record something. I get asked all the time if I’ve released anything and it’s a bit disappointing that I have to say no. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, so I definitely need to be developing something soon. Then again, I have such a large catalogue of songs, so it’s hard for me to pick and choose which ones are good enough to be released. Maybe by the Adelaide Fringe, my show could be an album launch. But, it’s all very hypothetical. As I mentioned before, I’m terrible at self-motivation, but now that I’ve put it into the universe, I have to be accountable!
Interview conducted by Tanner Muller
Images provided by Frankly
This piece was originally published in Edition 30.