Upon first seeing Danielle Fricke many are entranced by the full, atmospheric sound that the quiet girl and her electric guitar can create. Her hauntingly beautiful form of bedroom pop music has been gaining a whirlwind of attention, especially in Fricke’s hometown of London, ON. Over her years in the local music scene and with her previous band Snow Mantled Love, she’s had time to hone her gift and mold ideas and aspects into her own for the long awaited collection from Fricke’s solo efforts, Moon. Although we were introduced to the soaring soundscapes of the album over a year ago but the record got put on the back burner while the search for proper representation came around. That would come in the form of Porchlight Coffe & Records out of Seattle, a record label that had previously worked with friend Keaton Henson (his album Romantic Works was actually mixed by Fricke). Besides mixing she had managed to extend her talents to others while creating visuals for her music and the music of others, scoring short films and has already begun playing with the music for her next release.
I met up with Danielle at her “mom-agers” (mom-like friend that asks as a manager) home where we discussed the record, matching images to her music and enjoy her complete control.
So your album Moon is almost entirely a solo effort, from writing all the way to recording and mixing all by yourself. What was some of the writing process on these tracks?
Danielle: Yeah! When I first started out it was a lot of obvious material, in terms of starting with the guitar or a silly lyric. Then when I got a lot of the easy stuff out of the way I started playing with different loops and sounds. From there I would layer them and see if I could build a song. I think after about a month or so it became more of this experimental process, working through everything.
How did that work with the recording of the album then? Where did you record?
D: So the recording process just happened at my house with my laptop and my microphone. I would send stuff to friends just to hear their response to it and go from there. I was a very long process but it works for me working that way. I think the way I focus on my work is the song is being written as I record it so I can’t just walk into a studio with all my material ready and just spend a few days recording it. In that way I can make changes as I’m recording it.
A lot of your songs have this great, full sound. You were saying that you do a lot of layering with your music as well. How many tracks or layers would the average song have?
D: For some song it’s only around 8 or 10 but some of the bigger songs, it can go up to about 40.
Some of the material on Moon you’ve actually been sitting on for some time. The video for “The Well”came out last August and “Haunt This House” was also released last Halloween. But now nearly a year later we’re finally hearing the whole album. What took you so long to debut all the tracks?
D: I think what took so long was trying to get things done… I guess the right way? Not rushing things because I know in the past I’d record something and then just share it right away, like the next day even. I think when you give your self time you can really focus on things like how the tracks are even organized, for instance the track listing and it gives you time to really sit with them and owning a visual element to each song so you can visualize it as it goes on. It was for practical reasons too like saving up to get it mastered properly and finding someone who’d be willing to put it out.
And that’s when you got paired up with Zack from Porchlight, which is the label that the album is now out on.
D: Yeah, one of my good friends is a musician and was working on the album on the album with me. Keaton (Henson) actually released a 7” with Zack so figured we would get in touch and see what’s happening and it worked out! And Zack’s a great guy! I really enjoy who he’s worked with before and how he goes about his business. Even just visually it seemed like the best place for me right now.
You mentioned before that you like to visualize your songs. You actually film and direct your own music videos as well. How do you ultimately choose what imagery should go with your music?
D: I think the way I go about my videos is similar to the way I write my music. So I’ll start with something small, say if I have a piece of fabric or some sort of makeup or something I really like and I’ll experiment with different things and try shooting it differently but it’s when I put it all together and look at it on the computer is when the concept starts to come alive. So I don’t always have the visual links to the theme of the song but it always seems to come together in the end.
You’ve also been working on some videos for other bands in the city. You did the last two videos from Lonnie In The Garden and you’re currently working on a music video for WHOOP-Szo. I’m sure it comes a lot more easily when it comes to your own music, so how do you put together ideas for someone else?
D: It’s always been a bit of a challenge and it always will be but luckily the London community is so supportive and everyone has been very open to how I work. It starts out as a conversation between me and the artist and I see what their vision is. Taking what they already have into consideration and taking that as a starting idea. Then while editing I’ll go back and forth with them to see how we can evolve from there. When working for someone else you always have to make sure their idea is before yours or at least you always have it in the back of your head.
Before you started this solo project you were part of the band Snow Mantled Love. What made you want to take some time away from the group to pursue a solo effort?
D: Before I started in SML I was doing solo work. I put out a couple collections of songs but they’re all horrible so I hid them away (laughs). SML was exciting and nice to have so many different views come into play but I think after doing two groups of them I just wanted to get back to my own space and not have to worry about what someone else in the group was looking for. Even though I know that’s one of the things about being in a band is having to compromise and work together but at the moment I just wanted to go and explore some of these ideas I had by myself. I think now that I’ve realized that I’m capable of making that big sound on my own I prefer working on my own. As long as I still have people I can contact and get opinions from, because i think they’re important if you’re going to be a solo artist.
When it comes to the music on Moon there’s a lot of emotion in your music and your lyrics and at times you can get quite personal. Was there ever a point during the writing process that you thought maybe you were reveling too much?
D: I think because there was a time where I wasn’t releasing a lot of stuff and I was just keeping it hid away, I never got to the point of thinking “maybe this is too much.” I started to forget that people will actually being listening to it. SO I think in that aspect, within these last few days and know that my album is now there is when I’m getting all those feeling of like, “ maybe I shouldn’t have said that!” Not second guessing but you become more aware that it’s not just for you anymore. I write in a therapeutic kind of way of going about my feelings and I try not to think about it but, with everything I create I try and make it as honest as possible.
Moon is out now and available through Porchlight Records.