“Frankie Animal’s punchy guitar pop plays like a slap to the head. If you’re not in the mood for a night out, the Tallinn-based quartet might even issue a real one. Slinky, seductive, and ready for anything, this is exactly the pick up you need before getting down” – MTV Iggy.
FRANKIE ANIMAL – ALL ABOUT THE ‘COOL’
Estonian indie rock band Frankie Animal have been around since 2012 when Marie Vaigla (vocals, keyboard) and Jonas Kaarnamets (guitar), together with Jan-Christopher Soovik (bass), formed the band. Marie recalls ‘Me and Jonas we were in a band, and then Jan, our base player and Karl, the drummer we used to have, they were in another band – it was this school project or something, and then we just did something together and that was it.’ Jonas adds ‘Those guys were cool, and they thought we’re cool, and we thought we should do something. And also, I guess, it was that time as well – Ewert And The Two Dragons were just starting out and the music scene was really happening in Estonia, so we kind of thought that – Hey! We could try that!’. And they sure did!
In the autumn of 2012 Frankie Animal gave its first public concert and the same year they participated in the Estonian Youth Band (Noortebänd) competition, where they managed to win eight awards, including audience’s favourite. In the following year the band started working on their debut EP ‘Obsession’ that was completed in collaboration with Ewert And The Two Dragons guitarist Erki Pärnoja and released in 2014. The band’s first singles were ‘My Friend’ and ‘Loveless man’.
Following the debut EP and its success in digital streaming platforms, Frankie Animal went on to perform in festivals in the region and Europe, including Positivus Festival in Latvia and Eurosonic Noorderslag in the Netherlands, as well as playing as the supporting act for Ewert And the Two Dragons during their 2015 tour in Germany.
As for the name of the band – Frankie Animal, when asked about the story behind it, the band confesses that actually it is just two random words put together that they thought sounded cool… Marie laughs ‘We were 17 years old, so… what do you expect…’
Despite their young age the band members are extremely responsible towards the creation process of music making and especially the lyrics part. Marie had once said in an interview that ‘the biggest problem we have is the lyrics – it’s quite hard to decide what we should write about. We were watching a documentary about ‘The Doors’ – this one guy said ‘with poetry you have to create a whole world with one sentence’, and I think it’s really hard to make a picture with your thoughts’, to which Jonas added ‘and not make it sound cheesy. I think some Estonian artists don’t take lyrics seriously – some of them sound cheesy. I think that’s one of the biggest problems with a lot of music.’
The band’s musical material is usually created together. Jonas tells ‘The general rule is that someone of us brings like an idea or something, be it me or Jan or Marie, and he or she brings a demo and then we kind of listen to it and see if we like it or not and then go forward with it or not. So, in the end we all have an input to the song.’ The musicians are also not afraid to draw inspiration from anywhere and anytime. Marie remembers ‘One time we watched ‘Walk The Line’ and Jonas paused the movie, went to the other room, and said ‘I’ve got something’. Jonas adds ‘You just don’t know when it comes.’ For example, Jonas had an idea for the single ‘Funny’ (released in 2018) already in 2016, but that demo idea was sort of ‘put in the pocket’ and not used for a while until 2 years later the band came back to it, finalized and released the song.
2016 was also the year Frankie Animal released their first full-length album ‘The Backbeat’. One of the feedbacks on the album, written by Estonian music journalist Kaspar Viilup, said ‘Their music really sounds unexpectedly big – even the ballads at the end of the album are bright and heart-wrenching rather than pretentious and cold. So, there is definitely no lack of emotionality on this record – something that is a big exception in younger generation rock music, because the macho-posture and the “I’m-so-cool” image just obscure it. Frankie Animal has completely gotten rid of it.’
In the following years the band continued to release new material experimenting and pushing their own musical boundaries. In 2017 the band presented three singles – ‘Nightlights’, ‘Pretty Late’ and ‘(Can’t Keep Calling) Misty’. With the latter the band participated in the Estonian song selection for Eurovision contest ‘Eesti Laul 2018’. Although they didn’t win, the band gained a lot of recognition.
‘PLAYFUL’ AND ‘RESTLESS’
The next release ‘Playful’ came in the summer of 2019 (released under the ‘Made In Baltics’ (Sony Music’s Baltic branch) label) and became the most played ‘Raadio 2’ song in July 2019. On May 1st, 2020, ‘Restless’ followed. In a radio interview shortly after the release Jonas commented ‘It seems to me that with ‘Playful’ and ‘Restless’ we have found the direction we want to move musically with the whole album. Slightly pop, nostalgic and a reflection of us three. I feel that the connection between us is also getting stronger and that makes the music more complete.’
The release of ‘Restless’ was quite unique, as, since March 2020, all Baltic States are in quarantine mode, therefore, release party wasn’t an option. So, the band decided to take it online and created an online-live release party where they themselves were DJs. The band’s bass player and visual designer Jan pointed out in an interview with ‘Best Of Baltic Entertainment’: ‘Actually it was our first time doing DJing and everything online and I think it went pretty well, for us it was kind of good vibes.’ Jonas joined in, saying ‘Yeah, it was basically the first time DJing ever, we had a friend come over a few hours before, just kind of showing us the buttons – ‘here’s the play button, here you can see the sound…’. Considering all that, I think it went pretty good, overall.’ And Marie agreed adding ‘It was super fun. I think we should definitely do it like ten times more!’
Asked, how did it feel to connect with the audience through a screen, Marie replied that it did feel a bit weird as the artist couldn’t get an instant feedback from the audience, but the band members managed to create their own party vibe, so it felt great. Jonas added ‘We were just speaking after the thing was finished that we’ve really got the live feeling inside ourselves for the first time in like two months, which was really great, you know; we kind of had the nervousness before it all went on, went live. It really felt good afterwards.’ Jan agreed saying ‘After we were packing, and it felt like you just ended your gig and you have to pack everything together. Almost the same feeling.’
When teased about the option of the band turning into a DJ trio, the artists were all for it! Marie exclaimed ‘Definitely!’. Jonas chimed in saying ‘Yeah, why not! We could like do birthday parties and weddings and we were just joking that we can do like a ‘full set’ kind of thing, that we can do one hour of live and then do like four hours of DJ set after it. Sell it as a package!’ Marie agreed laughing ‘Invite us to your party!’
The band spent most of their ‘quarantine time’ mostly resting or spending time with family, well, at least two of them. There was some work that had to be done for the release of ‘Restless’ and that fell mostly on the shoulders of their bass player Jan, who is also band’s visual designer. Jonas remembers ‘2 weeks up to the release we were going crazy. Especially Jan here, ‘cause he basically does all of our design stuff. We were nailed to the computers and messaging each other like… could you, please, move up the text a few millimetres? Makes all the difference! (laughs) And Jan doesn’t sleep for two days and then he’s like – ‘Ooh… it’s completed.’’
Frankie Animal also hinted that the work for their new album is nearly done. Jonas revealed ‘… it’s somewhere, it’s definitely not like 100% finished, but it’s somewhere on the hard drive of our computer and it’s nearly there, we’re getting there. We have couple of songs in mind that might be the next single as well, so we’ll just continue promoting and working with ‘Restless’ for some time and then see when the time is right for the next single.’
So, it will be some time before we hear the new album or even the next singles, but ‘Restless’ is here for the audiences to enjoy and it is new, AND it has a story:
Jonas: ‘Well, actually we have a featuring artist on this song called Eygo. Her real name is Janika, she’s someone who’s been really close to the band the whole time we’ve been active.’
Marie: ‘8 years!’
Asked if she can be considered as the fourth member of the band, Jonas replies: ‘Yeah, the fourth Beatle. She’s the fourth Beatle… (everyone bursts out laughing) She’s Ringo!’
Marie: ‘But yeah, she’s been with us for the whole time and she is actually my hairdresser and my make-up artist. Like, before the gigs, she does my face.’
Jonas: ‘Actually, Jan and Janika kind of came up with the structure, the barebones of the song and at one point me and Marie were like – ‘Hey, do you think maybe we could kind of…’
Marie: ‘…borrow it…?’
Jonas: ‘…Borrow the song, you know, make it our own?’ They finally agreed and we produced the song and here it is!’
Watch the full interview with Frankie Animal performing the acoustic version of ‘Restless’:
Frankie Animal interview at the 2018’s Sweet Spot Festival: