Explore Issue 01 of LOOP Magazine

Featuring Sam Tompkins and Victor Ray as our cover stars, as well as internal spreads from Girli, Jords, Mysie, Finn Askew, Kara Marni and Master Peace

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FrankHaveMercy Helps You ‘Zone Out’ With New Album While Zoning In On His Career

Dimmed, sunset-pink lights illuminate a loft tucked inside Downtown Los Angeles’ Soho Warehouse on a Friday night in mid-July. The venue’s brick walls, abstract light fixtures, framed art prints and chicly-dressed crowd add to the relaxed but elevated vibes in the room, making it feel less like an event venue and more like a space to gather and bond over the excitement of listening to an artist on the rise. But aesthetics alone don’t forge this exciting sense of intimacy. It’s the music that fills the gaps between strangers and makes everyone relax and lean into a more vulnerable state of mind – just like FrankHaveMercy, who’s performing that night.

FrankHaveMercy performs his new album, ‘Endless Summer,’ at the Soho Warehouse in Downtown Los Angeles on July 22, 2022. (Photo Courtesy of Austen Cox)

“I wrote [this song] when I was in love,” Frank announces to the people in the studio.

That song is “In My Head,” the lead track on Endless Summer, his new album that dropped on July 22. Frank’s voice has the effect of making you transcend from whatever’s happening in the physical moment to focus on what’s going on in the subconscious: memories of a past lover, daydream about a potential new one, or, in my case, just enjoy the lovely echoes of Frank’s voice to distract from the fact I’m sitting in this armchair a bit too upright, worrying if it’s painfully aware I’m at this performance alone.

That’s because his voice carries the same effect that YouTube videos with titles like “’somebody else’ by the 1975 but you’re crying in the bathroom of a party’.” It’s both dreamlike and wistful, like a memory that’s gently knocking at your brain (Frank picked “nostalgic” as one of the three words to describe his music).

This effect is also created by the production across the 10 tracks on the album, which all share this ambient quality that’s characteristic of the more experimental niches within alternative pop and R&B, calling to mind artists like Sade, Tame Impala and The Weeknd (whom Frank names as some of his inspirations). Other standout tracks on the album – like “Make Me Sing” and “Yesterday’s Heartache” – wash over you, sway you, maybe even put you in a trance; an effect Frank is fully aware of.

The North Carolina-born multi-hyphenate initially wanted to be a rapper, but discovered his voice “didn’t work like that,” he tells me over a Zoom call the day before the performance. Instead, he describes it as being “airy,” “soft,” “high.” Due to how his “voice sounds sometimes,” Franks says his music is “great” to “just kind of zone out to, even if you’re not doing psychedelics or anything like that.” [The author of this piece – who was fully sober at the event – can attest to this].

Frank actually was on psychedelics, however – “a lot of shrooms,” specifically, to “help with the flow” – while working on the album for a month in Cabo in the summer of 2021. But this wasn’t the type of trip to hole up alone and jot down lyrics in a hallucinogenic reverie. This was a whole team effort.

“I got a house. I brought all of my producers out, my best friend. I even had certain moments where I brought family out like my mom, certain friends,” Frank says. “And we had a chef and it was just really catered to almost treat it like a camp”…so we could only worry about doing music, because I feel like when we’re here in LA, everybody’s trying to work.”

“The guys I actually made my album with — that I make all my albums with — they were the first people I’ve ever made music with…we kind of formed a brotherhood. And that’s who I perform with,” Frank tells LOOP Magazine. (Photo Courtesy of Austen Cox)

“Everybody” includes Frank, who’s no stranger to work. His wasn’t a slow grind, but a hard and fast one: he just began singing in 2018. In fact, he “never grew up wanting to be a music artist.”

“I grew up playing basketball,” Frank says to start the timeline of what led up to his current music career. After turning down offers from colleges, he followed in his mom’s footsteps – who had served in the Army for 23 years – and enlisted as well at 18 years old.

“I went to Afghanistan at 19. And that was my first time really out of the country. It’s such a culture shock,” Frank says. “It just really switched my perspective. And when I came back, I was very different from the normal, like, 20-year-old, a 21-year-old.”

That explains Frank’s work ethic at 22 years old, which is the age he got out of the army and decided to do a 180 by picking up photography. It was a “way to just deal with depression and being detached” for Frank – but this was much more than a coping mechanism.

“I was doing five or six photoshoots a day sometimes just to pay my rent and stuff,” Frank says, who has even shot campaigns for Nike and Adidas. “And through that I just met so many different people in the industry”…I got into design. Creative direction. I started working with MixedByAli, who’s the in-house engineer of TDE. And through him I was able to meet like Nipsey Hussle and Kendrick [Lamar], SZA, Schoolboy Q. These artists that just kind of, you know, inspire me just through their work ethic and being in their presence.” At one point, Frank spent a “month or do” doing photo shoots and content for DJ Mustard.

“I was doing like six, seven different jobs…and then my eyes just kind of started to open,” Frank says. The epiphany: “Okay, I should do all of this stuff for myself.” Frank now creative directs all his music videos and writes his own treatments.

The reaction wasn’t always positive.

“A lot of people didn’t like it,” Frank admits. “It’s funny. A lot of the people I was like, helping do music stuff for, they kind of were a little bit bothered. I think because music is such a competitive sport”…and then they already know I got all the ideas and stuff.”

This wasn’t a suspicion Frank had: he was receiving mixed reviews from his own peers. “I’ve even had people telling me, like, ‘Oh, like, when I first started listening to you, I didn’t like your music. And now,  I love your music, it sounds great. We’re seeing progression.’”

Frank doesn’t flinch at such blunt criticisms. In fact, after his performance, he asked me what I “really” thought: sincerely, curiously, not in the way people do to fish for compliments. “Those are the things I’m okay with. And those are the things that inspired me,” Frank explains during our Zoom call. “I like not being good at something and then getting good at it. Like right before people’s eyes. Then they kind of have to respect it.”

Frank lets any reception – good or bad – flow in and out, and proceeds on with his business. It seems like Frank goes with the “flow” with just about everything in his life: his attitude (don’t internalize everything), his career (try everything), his music (express everything).

While experiences with ex-girlfriends “and all those things” that make artists pick up their pens and mics “really fueled” him, he boils down his creative drive to his ability to embrace “vulnerability” – and thus “just letting it out and letting it flow.”

This sense of flow is tangible in his music. You also can’t help but let go and ride the waves of Frank’s dreamlike sound and lyrics. It’s a mutual vulnerability for both the listener and singer.

Words by Jade Boren

Posted On 4 October, 2022