Like a lot of people, I fell in love with Frase the moment I heard him start singing. His voice is illegally-smooth and soulful – captivating. And he writes groovy, chill songs full of heart, full of feeling. I always smile seeing his name on a festival lineup, knowing no matter what is going on, I'm going to get an hour of Frase calming my soul. This past summer, I caught his incredible set at Bass Coast and realized that as he's played more and become a favourite of these big west coast bass crowds, that same bass has found its way into his live sets. But where a lot of artists who experiment in heavy bass can have their identities swallowed up, Frase has found a way to blend the pensive grooves of his music with the higher energy that heavy bass injects into everything.
“I think it was osmosis. The bass kind of just worked its way in. I recognized that when you're putting on a show at nighttime in a club, people wanna dance. They want to feel the bass. I find a lot of really heavy bass music doesn't have a lot of soul in it – I'm not saying everything, but there is a compromise right? The more bass, the less soul there is usually. It's been kind of a challenge to me to make something that will work in that club environment but is still something that I'd want to listen to, something that people could put on a chill,” says Frase, talking to me on a break from touring, at home in Ymir, BC. “As a solo artist, I needed the tracks to make the show hyper. There wasn't much myself or Emily could do to make our performance more exaggerated, it was the music that had to step up and be more hype. Her being my partner and a dancer has also had a big influence on me wanting to make more dance music. I'll be working on a beat for hours and it's pretty chill, I'll play it for her and she'll be like, 'Meh.' But if I make a house song or something that's more danceable and only spent 20 minutes on, she'll say, 'Yeah, that's amazing.'”
As his profile and his sound have both expanded, Frase's audiences have become increasingly diverse, playing a variety of venues and festivals around the west coast and Canada. This past summer included a life-changing stop at Koksilah, here on Vancouver Island in the Cowichan Valley. “Koksilah was one of my highlights, just in terms of my ethics and my values. I definitely want to give them a shout out. It's a mix of music and a lot of workshops about reconciliation and Indigenous rights. It's a more workshop-based festival than a party festival. There's so many conflicts in the world right now and it's really nice to have a festival like that that's really about progression, bringing these issues to the forefront and talking about them and working them out instead of blaming other people for what's happening. 'Koksilah' means 'thank you' in Cowichan language. The location of the festival was a former residential school and a few of the elders mentioned they can't go inside. There's a lot of trauma but that's what this whole festival is about – reconciliation and reclaiming these spaces and helping people work through this trauma and create allies to focus on the problems we're facing now – deforestation and pipeline drilling. The Indigenous are really on the pulse of that. Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Mob Bounce played, the lineup was definitely leaning towards Indigenous artists and artists of colour and as a white man I was really honoured to be invited and ask to perform in those kind of spaces. It was really powerful. I got the logo they used for the festival tattooed on my arms.”
The world is a groovier place with Frase creating music in it – in more ways than one. After a few years of grooving to his music and catching his shows, we're honoured to finally welcome this righteous bean as a guest on the 5 Questions.
If you're in Victoria this Friday (Nov. 9), make sure to go catch Frase at Capital Ballroom with the homies Illvis Freshly, Bousada and Sidewaysounds. Seriously. Do it.
1.Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?
It was Fine Young Cannibals. I was 6. I remember I got a walkman – it was on tape – and I remember walking around to it non stop. I listen to that album now and it's still pretty sweet! The production and the vocals and the dance-y soulfulness it has...it's super cheesy, don't get me wrong, but I understand why my influences have gone the way they have. When I was a little kid all I listened to was dance music. Dance Mix '94 and '95, all of those, pretty mainstream poppy kind of dance music.