Frex has shown an artist on the rise, on the cusp of acclaim throughout the years. Having paid close attention to LA-based Frex for a while now, she continues to release some of the most enchanting songs we’ve heard thus far. A lot of music falls into relaxing or “chill” genres these days, but Frex’s more mellow moments are uniquely soothing, a trait not shared with much other music.
We recently had the chance to catch up with Frex for an exclusive interview to discuss all the music and everything that goes into it. Check out the full interview down below.
So let us begin with introductions. For those who don’t know, where are you from?
I’m from this small town in Pennsylvania called Mechanicsburg. Not much ever happens there [laughs.] Although Bret Michaels is from there, that’s pretty cool.
Did you ever watch Rock of Love?
[Laughs] I have probably watched every season like three times over. My friends and I think it’s hilarious for some reason.
Musically, are you a fan of Bret?
Eh, not really. Nothing against ‘Poison,’ but I am a fan of reality TV.
Let’s backtrack a little. How was it growing up in Mechanicsburg?
It was… hmm. There’s a straightforward kind of mindset where I’m from. You go to school, and college, get a job and have kids. Creativity isn’t encouraged, which led to me feeling misunderstood a lot of the time growing up. It’s a lot of farmland with a lot of narrow-minded people.
Is that when you thought LA was the best option for you?
Not quite. It took a little more time. I went to school for business in Philadelphia for a little bit before deciding it wasn’t for me. But when I was in Philadelphia, I met some people who also made music, which helped. That’s when I started coming out of my shell a little bit more.
Can you recall when you told yourself, “yeah, music is what I want to do”?
Oh, I always wanted to make music! Always, always, always. I just never thought I could.
What made you think you couldn’t?
The idea just seemed so impossible to me. As I said, I’m from a small town, so no one thinks that kind of stuff is possible. Plus, I didn’t get that much support from anyone for a long time.
Did you always think it was possible, or did being in LA and near the music industry put things into perspective?
Coming to LA changed everything. I visited in June of 2016, and that’s when I was like, “oh.. shit is different out here,” and after that, I started taking music more seriously. I never thought it was possible before, and it took a long time for me to believe in myself.
When did you officially decide to move out there?
January 2018. Funny enough, godchild and I moved out here by complete coincidence around that time.
Let’s talk about that artist/producer chemistry a bit. How did you all first link up?
He started sending me beats on Soundcloud in 2016, I think. He’s got two songs on my first EP. We were both living in Philly at the time, and it took us like a year and some change to link in person. It was like the second time we had ever met in person. We realized we were both moving to LA at the same time. It was wild!
In terms of production, he seems to be responsible for a lot of your current music. Would you consider him one of those producers with whom you have a solid collaborative relationship?
I am sitting with him in the studio as we speak. We made it a thing in August of 2018 to see each other once a week, and we just never stopped. So to answer your question, yes. 100%. He and I have a super cool thing going, and I’m grateful to be able to build with him.
How important do you think it is for an artist to have that go-to producer in their corner?
Having a producer I have a great relationship with has been everything for me. The fact that we can grow together, level by level. When one of us is going through a phase where we think we suck at music, the other one of us can remind us how awesome we are. The fact that no big-shot producer can hold a lot of power over me. It’s a great feeling. I’m never at a point where I don’t know who I’m getting my next beat from because we work together all the time.
Let’s talk about your last album, “Blu.” How did that album come together conceptually?
So at this point, godchild and I were both working remotely, only sending each other stuff instead of working in person. Crazy how it all came together because “blu” is only eight songs, and I probably only made like 15 songs for the project, way less than I would make now.
It was a cool time for me creatively because it was the first time I had a producer to work with at my disposal. It leveled up my sound. Luckily, all the songs we created on blu just felt cohesive to us.
The concept of “blu” was that most of the songs had pretty sad lyrics despite some of them sounding happy. “blu” was my sad-girl era. But, for “blu,” I made an effort to get in the studio and make finished songs. Until then, I was making pretty loosely structured songs, so I wanted to make something people could take seriously.
You said “Blu” was more of your sad-girl era, but a lot of your music often has a somber tone. Did “Blu” help develop that sound?
Absolutely! “blu” was a huge growing and learning process for me. I also think I make sad music because music has always been a form of release for me. Sometimes I have trouble talking about things or how I feel, so it tends to come out in my music.
How do you push yourself out of your comfort zone sonically?
Pushing boundaries sonically became easier once I realized that not everything I create has to be released. That’s the beauty of making more and more music. If you’re consistently creating, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re making a hit. You can create what you feel at that moment, which opens up space to do something you usually wouldn’t.
Sometimes I’ll challenge myself to go on a beat I usually wouldn’t and just freestyle. A lot of cool shit has happened that way. I’ve also been working with Connor Barkhouse the past couple of months, and we’ve made some songs no one would ever guess I would go on [laughs]. Experimenting is entertaining, and I can’t wait to show you guys.
Connor is the homie! We remember interviewing him a couple of years back, and he’s also shown love, so it’s amazing to see how much he’s leveled up. Talk about that chemistry a bit. Are the vibes different between you and him, then say you and godchild?
That’s Awesome! But yeah, so najeeb introduced me to Connor last year because they were roommates at the time, so we’re all homies. Then Connor and I eventually started making music together because it just made sense.
najeeb and I have been making soft, smooth music and “gentle bops,” as we call them. The late-night jams. Then on the other end, Connor and I have been making stuff with distorted, grittier vocals and drums that knock. It’s been cool experimenting on that end.
Your new single “Come Around” gives us a glimpse of where you’re headed. What are you most proud of when it comes to that record?
Man, I love that song. I had to listen to it so many times for the video, and I never got sick of it, which says a lot [laughs]. I guess I’m just proud of how mature I sound in the song; much more sure of myself than before. That’s a precursor for what’s next. I also love that it knocks on any speakers. Thank you, Connor.
We haven’t heard many features on your tracks up to this point. Are you more focused on honing your particular sound, or how open are you to working with other artists?
I’m not sure if there is anyone reason in particular, but I think it all probably boils down to me being a pretty shy person. But also, yeah, I guess I have been focused on really cranking out songs with just myself and najeeb. If you’re going to do features, it’s probably a good idea to be sitting on a catalog you’re happy with. That being said, I’m probably going to prioritize features more in the next year.
Nowadays, when people talk about artists and artistry as a whole — it’s far more than just music, and it seems like you have the total package. Outside of just music — while staying true to yourself, how much attention do you pay to what else goes into being an “artist?”
There’s a lot that goes into it. For a long time, I felt tired of “branding.” It felt phony to try and cultivate an image for myself. Then I realized I was only hurting myself by running away from it. I started actively trying to improve my social media presence. It isn’t “uncool” to try. The only people who will tell you this are people who wish they could do what you’re doing. So yeah, as an artist, I feel like it’s about expressing yourself as much as you can, as authentically as you can. It’s not about trying to be cool. It’s about doing what you think is cool. There’s a difference.
What’s next for you?
I am working on a project right now. Very excited to put that out. Then just more and more stuff. I’ve been hibernating for so long I want to show people what I’ve been working on. Exciting times!
Any last thoughts?
I am excited to see where I’ll be like a year from now. It’ll be nice to look back on this interview. So thank you for having me! The support means a lot.