Hi Carina, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thanks. Great! I’m really excited to be releasing the music that I’ve been working on for so long.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Blacklist»?
The single is called “Blacklist,” and it is the title track from my upcoming album.
I’m fascinated by human behavior, and I’ve written a lot of songs on this subject. “Blacklist” is a song about judgment, and how we as humans define one another, consciously or unconsciously. I believe that our perception of others is based on our own truth, our experiences, values, fears and insecurities.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
I wrote “Blacklist” after an argument with a friend. I tried to describe my thoughts at that moment, from disappointment and powerlessness to rage and vindictiveness. I’ve used big words, but this is the magnitude of the feeling of being misunderstood and judged by those closest to you.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
I wanted to give “Trad Film” and director Sven Arild Storberget full directorial liberty. I find it very interesting, entrusting my work to others, allowing the music to take new directions. I had a few demands, though: I wanted a slow motion feel to the video, and I wanted the end of it to be cut like a movie-teaser.
We filmed for 3-4 days in October, a couple of miles outside of Oslo. We didn’t really have a script. Our main focus was getting beautiful shots and creating the right atmosphere for the music video. Eivind Lie Nitter took some beautiful pictures and Simen Skari, who did the editing and after work, is a true wizard.
Why did you name the album after this track in particular?
“Blacklist” was the first song I made for this record. The argument, disappointment, confusion … I’ve learned a lot from this particular experience, and that lesson has become the main theme of my album. The word “Blacklist” came to me by a coincidence. I liked the sound of it, and I thought it was a good title and also an indication for the album concept.
Would you call this a conceptual record?
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing process was pretty intense. I need deadlines. No deadlines, no music… So I decided to give myself 14 months. I booked the studio without having written any songs. I had no idea what kind of record I wanted to make, but I knew I wanted to work with Vance.
In August 2017 my Norwegian musicians and I flew to the US and spent three weeks recording at Sputnik Sound Studio. The bass player, David Beck, drove from Texas to Nashville and joined the band.
What was it like to work with Vance Powell and how did that relationship develop?
Our collaboration started with my band Phone Joan. Back in 2012 we asked Vance to mix our second album. For our third album, he invited us to record at his studio in Nashville. The album came out great, and working with Vance was so inspiring. We’ve kept in touch over the years, and he was an obvious choice when I was on the lookout for a producer/engineer for Blacklist.
How much did he get to influence the album?
Very much. My musical arrangements are often very detailed, that’s how I construct my music. I know that this can be quite a challenge for a producer, balancing all the different elements. Vance has done a really great job, juggling my arrangements and his own production ideas.
He also has a very unpretentious way of looking at music. He is very professional and knowledgeable, yet playful at the same time. I love how he can spend hours on finding the right kick drum or guitar amp to get the correct sound for that one particular song. And then, a couple hours later, he’ll discover a weird, ugly feedback from the guide vocal. A “totally wrong and AWESOME” feedback that he absolutely *has to* incorporate in the music. On this record we’ve played on old analog instruments and we’ve recorded with expensive and rare microphones. But we’ve also included tracks from my original Garageband demos, that I recorded in my kitchen in Oslo. As long as it sounds awesome- who cares, right?
How did The Dead Weather and Queens of the Stone Age influence your writing?
Horehound and Songs for the Deaf has been important albums for me as a musician. I think both bands has managed to create a very distinct and unique sound, which I appreciate. I love a band that isn’t afraid to challenge the listener with unexpected harmonic progressions, and I also find it refreshing when songwriters step away from the traditional VERSE_CHORUS_VERSE_CHORUS_BRIDGE_CHORUS_CHORUS- formula. As a songwriter I actually like to divide my music into parts (part A/1, part B/2, part C/3…) I think The Dead Weather’s album Horehound has made a huge impact on me in that way, alongside the music of artists like Tori Amos and Rufus Wainwright .
How do you go on balancing your Nordic musical roots with the Nashville influences?
My main goal as a musician is to balance two main poles/ingredients. I want to give people something they can relate to. Something familiar, something they understand and recognize. But I also want to give them something different, something new, something to chew on. Maybe even a little challenge. My favorite albums that I’ve listened to for twenty or twenty-five years are the albums where I’ve had to engage in the music.
I love Scandinavian pop music and I’ve grown up listening to European classical music. I’m also inspired by a lot of different American rock bands, and by genres like metal and hip-hop. In this project I really wanted to collaborate with both European and American contributors. To try to create something different, find my own sound. This is also one of the reasons why I reached out to Vance — I knew that he would perceive and treat my music different from any Scandinavian producer. I wanted an organic and rock infused foundation of guitars, bass and drums. But I also wanted a Nordic top layer, with harmony oriented synthesizers and strings.
Is it easier for you to blend dark themes with the much brighter tones on the record?
Well, it’s like yin and yang. No light, no darkness. No flow, no resistance. No heaven, no hell…
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes! I’m definitely a live musician, and I can’t wait to get back on stage.
What else is happening next in Carina Frantzen’s world?
I’m currently booking my release tour and promoting the upcoming album. At the same time I’m writing new music, planning my next step. Hopefully I’ll be able to engage, surprise and entertain my listeners for a very long time.