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Interview: Shaun Frank On Toronto, Hanging With Blink-182 And Becoming One Of The Hottest Names In House

If you’ve been to an EDM set at a music festival in the past year, you’ve heard a Shaun Frank song. “Shades of Grey,” which was released last summer with Oliver Heldens, has been on repeat in clubs around the world since, and his new track with DVBBS, “La La Land,” is quickly becoming as big of a hit.

Shaun Frank’s music is house by definition, but he brings in deep base and upbeat, tropical sounds in ways similar to artists like Martin Solveig, ZHU and The Chainsmokers, who he opened for on tour last year. The sound might be appealing to music fans who don’t typically go for EDM, especially because of his attention paid to the live production and vocals. It’s partially a result of his background as a punk drummer and vocalist, but also because a great partnership with Delaney Jane who sings vocals on “Shades of Grey,” “La La Land,” and much of Shaun Frank’s other recent music.

Shaun Frank is currently touring clubs and playing festivals including Moonrise, Paradiso, Electric Daisy Carnival, Electric Zoo, and Bestival in his hometown of Toronto this week. If you aren’t able to make it to any of those, there’s a good chance you’ll still be hearing his his tracks this summer. We took some time to talk to Shaun about his background as a musician, his hometown scene, and his favorite album of all time.

Your tour right now is a mix of festivals and night clubs. How do you prepare for the two types of sets differently?
I prepare by not really preparing at all. You never 100 percent know what the crowd is going to be like when you walk on stage, so for me what works best is just having some rough ideas in my head, but nothing that I’m strapped to. I really follow the crowd and try to create a moment for all of us to live in and vibe in while I’m up there.

Do you remember the festival’s you went to growing up? Any highlights?
My first real festival experience was the Warped Tour, and with my band [The Envy] I actually did a couple years on that festival tour. I remember playing dice with Blink-182 in some back parking lot of one of the tour stops. It was cool how all the acts on the tour would just hang and BBQ and drink all together like one big family every night after the fest was done. I was recently at Coachella, and there were some very similar family vibes backstage at that one, too.

Speaking of your previous bands, you play drums and piano, and you sing. When you’re working on a new song, how does your history of being a live musician fit into your production process?
Most of my songs are written at the piano before I even go into the studio. I feel like the song has to sound really good just stripped down to its bare elements, and if it does, it’s gonna make for a great song no matter how it is produced. I also put a lot of real guitars, strings, pianos, and horns on my songs. There’s something about the human element that I really love to incorporate.

You moved from Vancouver to Toronto about eight years ago. What encouraged you to move?
I moved here to a Toronto because at the time I felt like there was a lot more going on, and for me the people I was working with we’re all based out here so it made sense. Toronto has one of strongest and most educated Electronic Music Scenes that I’ve had the opportunity of playing.

Do you feel the music scenes are different in the two?
For sure, the music scenes are very different in Vancouver and Toronto. The crowds [in Toronto] are always really ahead of the game on new music, so it keeps me very inspired living and getting to play here at home. I’m always really excited to get to play here at home, especially because my newest song “La La Land” has been getting a ton of radio play here in Toronto so that’ll be an exciting moment when I get to perform that song to a crowd that knows it so well. The music scene here is one of the best music scenes that I’ve experienced.

You’ve worked with some of the same people on various tracks – Delaney Jane and Oliver Heldens most recently. How do things change in the studio or in the production process after you’ve worked with someone before?
The greatest part about collaborations is what you learn. Everyone has such a different way of doing things and by working together we get to share a lot of our secrets with each other.

You said in an interview that “OK Computer” is your favorite album of all time. Thoughts on Radiohead’s new album, “A Moon Shaped Pool”?
It’s still probably my favorite album of all time. I still have to sit down with “A Moon Shape Pool” and experience it properly. From what I’ve heard it sounds amazing. Radiohead is the one band I still haven’t seen live that is on my bucket list. Maybe this summer!

Find out more about Shaun Frank and Bestival here.

Brian Benton
Brian is the founder and editor of Respect Your Youngers. He currently lives in New York City, and previously lived in St. Louis and San Francisco. He enjoys public transportation and coffee, and can be found online at brianfbenton.com

Interview: Shaun Frank On Toronto, Hanging With Blink-182 And Becoming One Of The Hottest Names In House

If you’ve been to an EDM set at a music festival in the past year, you’ve heard a Shaun Frank song. “Shades of Grey,” which was released last summer with Oliver Heldens, has been on repeat in clubs around the world since, and his new track with DVBBS, “La La Land,” is quickly becoming as big of a hit.

Shaun Frank’s music is house by definition, but he brings in deep base and upbeat, tropical sounds in ways similar to artists like Martin Solveig, ZHU and The Chainsmokers, who he opened for on tour last year. The sound might be appealing to music fans who don’t typically go for EDM, especially because of his attention paid to the live production and vocals. It’s partially a result of his background as a punk drummer and vocalist, but also because a great partnership with Delaney Jane who sings vocals on “Shades of Grey,” “La La Land,” and much of Shaun Frank’s other recent music.

Shaun Frank is currently touring clubs and playing festivals including Moonrise, Paradiso, Electric Daisy Carnival, Electric Zoo, and Bestival in his hometown of Toronto this week. If you aren’t able to make it to any of those, there’s a good chance you’ll still be hearing his his tracks this summer. We took some time to talk to Shaun about his background as a musician, his hometown scene, and his favorite album of all time.

Your tour right now is a mix of festivals and night clubs. How do you prepare for the two types of sets differently?
I prepare by not really preparing at all. You never 100 percent know what the crowd is going to be like when you walk on stage, so for me what works best is just having some rough ideas in my head, but nothing that I’m strapped to. I really follow the crowd and try to create a moment for all of us to live in and vibe in while I’m up there.

Do you remember the festival’s you went to growing up? Any highlights?
My first real festival experience was the Warped Tour, and with my band [The Envy] I actually did a couple years on that festival tour. I remember playing dice with Blink-182 in some back parking lot of one of the tour stops. It was cool how all the acts on the tour would just hang and BBQ and drink all together like one big family every night after the fest was done. I was recently at Coachella, and there were some very similar family vibes backstage at that one, too.

Speaking of your previous bands, you play drums and piano, and you sing. When you’re working on a new song, how does your history of being a live musician fit into your production process?
Most of my songs are written at the piano before I even go into the studio. I feel like the song has to sound really good just stripped down to its bare elements, and if it does, it’s gonna make for a great song no matter how it is produced. I also put a lot of real guitars, strings, pianos, and horns on my songs. There’s something about the human element that I really love to incorporate.

You moved from Vancouver to Toronto about eight years ago. What encouraged you to move?
I moved here to a Toronto because at the time I felt like there was a lot more going on, and for me the people I was working with we’re all based out here so it made sense. Toronto has one of strongest and most educated Electronic Music Scenes that I’ve had the opportunity of playing.

Do you feel the music scenes are different in the two?
For sure, the music scenes are very different in Vancouver and Toronto. The crowds [in Toronto] are always really ahead of the game on new music, so it keeps me very inspired living and getting to play here at home. I’m always really excited to get to play here at home, especially because my newest song “La La Land” has been getting a ton of radio play here in Toronto so that’ll be an exciting moment when I get to perform that song to a crowd that knows it so well. The music scene here is one of the best music scenes that I’ve experienced.

You’ve worked with some of the same people on various tracks – Delaney Jane and Oliver Heldens most recently. How do things change in the studio or in the production process after you’ve worked with someone before?
The greatest part about collaborations is what you learn. Everyone has such a different way of doing things and by working together we get to share a lot of our secrets with each other.

You said in an interview that “OK Computer” is your favorite album of all time. Thoughts on Radiohead’s new album, “A Moon Shaped Pool”?
It’s still probably my favorite album of all time. I still have to sit down with “A Moon Shape Pool” and experience it properly. From what I’ve heard it sounds amazing. Radiohead is the one band I still haven’t seen live that is on my bucket list. Maybe this summer!

Find out more about Shaun Frank and Bestival here.

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