INTERVIEW – FRANKO FRAIZE

IMG_7874
Fraize supported The Enemy and Revs on their UK tours

Franko Fraize (Frankie Dean) is coming to the end of his support tour, gigging with both Reverend and The Makers and The Enemy on dates across the UK, playing in cities including: London, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool. The lyricist and performer presents himself as a hybrid of musical genres, including: hip hop, rap, indie and grime.

Fraize admits that initially he didn’t intend to get into the music industry, but was inspired to start writing by life in his hometown of Thetford and what was on the other side of the front door. “People just resonate with it; I think it’s that small town mentality”. He added that believing in what you are doing is integral to becoming successful, especially when making music, with pressures within the industry coming from all different directions. “I have grafted to get to this place now… all the time I was doing what I loved and what was right in front of me.” After uploading tracks to YouTube and Soundcloud, Fraize grabbed the attention of local radio. His admirable temperament and distinct talent evidently started turning heads elsewhere, with Zane Lowe, formerly of BBC Radio One, supporting Fraize right at the beginning of his career.  He admits that before the respected DJ stamped it with his seal of approval, people were scared to dip their toes in the water. “When Zane Lowe got on I think people felt they were allowed to have a listen now…. then when he did loads of people were jumping all over it.” Fraize continues to have support from the BBC, via BBC Introducing, which serves as a platform for artists to get their music heard by those who can take them up to the next step of the ladder. “It gave me confidence and faith in what I was doing”. Introducing gave Fraize an opportunity to have more people listen to his music, as he was asked to perform at Radio 1’s Big Weekend back in May. “Alongside ‘1 Big Weekend’, I got a documentary filmed about me for local BBC, I had Huw Stephens listen and get on board…. It was a real door opener.”

Fraize confessed that there has been many highlights of this year so far, it was difficult to pick just one. Back in September, he entertained Sundown Festival, which takes place in his home county of Norfolk, where he performed alongside Rudimental, Tinie Tempah and Jess Glynne.

“I’ve got to November and I’m touring with Reverend and The Makers and The Enemy, where does it end? I’ve had my football team QPR ring me up this weekend and say they want do stuff, I’ve had all sorts of people get involved just off the back of this tour so… it’s hard to pick a highlight.”

Although often branded as a rapper, Fraize admits he sees himself more as a fusion of genres, and therefore when asked about who he would like to work with in the future, he selected the unstoppable Catfish and The Bottlemen as “a good sort of crossover, that’s the type of thing I’ve been listening to a lot lately.” However, other than Van McCann & Co, he admitted that he isn’t currently looking out for collaborations, but “worrying about myself” and getting to where he wants to be, producing music he loves. “To be honest every week there’s something going on so I haven’t really sat down and thought about it.”

Comparable to the likes of Jamie T and Mike Skinner, who he also sights as influences, Fraize listens to a mixture of artists and backgrounds. “I like Macklemore a lot from America and I’ve listened to a lot of British stuff, I still listen to Oasis.”

So, what has he got planned for next year? Fraize is incredibly genuine and understanding of how cruel the business can be. “I’m trying to keep a level head about it because this is a fickle industry. The little ladder rungs are what I keep hold of.” He confessed there are no set goals for next year, but that he wants to continue writing music and playing shows, with the intention of playing festivals in the summer, in particular Reading which he describes as a reflection of what he’s doing, “a bit of hip hop, a bit of grime a bit of band music, and it’s all there under one umbrella”.

“I’ve got this single out on Polydor – ‘Oi! Oi!, for the end of this year to support this tour, I want to see where it goes. Keep the snowball going and see where we get to.” This won’t be the last you hear of Franko Fraize.

Advertisements

THE ENEMY @ THE RITZ – 17/11/15

IMG_7890

Coventry’s The Enemy released their fourth album ‘It’s Automatic’ in October of this year. Describing the songs on the new record as “some of the best I’ve ever written”, lead vocalist Tom Clarke promises something new and exciting for the fans. The band recently embarked on an 11 date tour across the UK, where they will visit venues in Leeds, London and Sheffield to name a few. Last night, the fourth night of the tour, the band ventured up north to Manchester, as it was The Ritz’s turn to party, supported by local band The Tapestry and rapper Franko Fraize.

At 7.30pm, Manchester band The Tapestry took to the stage to fans filling the venue. The four piece, made up of Liam (lead vocalist and guitar), Katy (bass), Zara (drums) and Dyna (guitar), also joined The Enemy’s tour last week in Yeovil. The band erupted into a chorus of heavy electric guitar and punchy vocals for ‘Look Out’, which instantly had the growing crowd dancing along. Comparable to the likes of Kaiser Chiefs and The Fratellis, and having been recognised by Liam Gallagher, the indie pop band were welcomed by The Ritz. The applause got louder after each record including ‘Right as rain’ and ‘Catacombs’, before they encouraged those who were enjoying it to watch them at Islington Mill, Salford next month for their last show of the year. The band finished with their latest single ‘Infatuation’ and ‘Rode your luck’, both proving to be crowd favourites.

Franko Fraize (Frankie Dean), who had performed at The Ritz with Reverend and The Makers four nights before, greeted the crowd with his signature saying “Oi, Oi!” before kicking off his set with the upbeat ‘Underdog’, which was championed by Zane Lowe when released last year. His first night as support for The Enemy saw the crowd firmly in the hands of the upcoming rapper from Thetford. Before performing ‘Treasures’, Fraize confessed his growing love for the city “I love the people and the vibe up here”, which was acknowledged by the lively crowd with a loud “Oi! Oi!” Fraize introduced a trumpet into the mix for the next song intended to get everyone warmed up “before the boys come out”. The penultimate song of the set was ‘Running’, one of the tracks championed by BBC Music and BBC Introducing. Fraize finished his set with ‘Oi Oi’ which is now available on Itunes.

The Ritz was treated to a DJ set before The Enemy arrived, which included indie favourites such as The Courteeners, Joy Division and Catfish and The Bottlemen. This succeeded in getting everyone dancing and ready for the headliners, who took to the stage at 9.40pm.

The band opened with the title track of their latest album released on Warner Records, ‘It’s Automatic’, enveloping the audience in The Enemy’s signature style, before welcoming the crowd to the party “Hello Manchester!” The band’s infectious energy continued through to ‘Had Enough’, ‘Everybody Needs Someone’ and ‘No Time for Tears’, a single from their second album ‘Music for the People’, released the same year that Tom, Liam and Andy supported Oasis on the ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ tour. Tom addressed the crowd after a fight broke out during ‘Magic’, a stance which was received with cheers and a round of applause. The band jumped straight into Technodanceaphobic off their debut album ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’, released in 2007. ‘Be Somebody’ was welcomed with a roar from the crowd who continued to jump with beers in hand and open up mosh pits. ‘Saturday’, ‘Some Things’ and new song ‘Superhero’, which already had everyone on the floor and balcony singing the lyrics back, were to follow. ‘Away From Here’, the band’s debut single and first to break the top ten of the UK singles chart, came next, with Tom Clarke shouting “sing it Manchester!” The crowd cheered as the band entered into the euphoric ‘This Song’, which saw people on other’s shoulders and crowd surfing to get closer to the band. The band left the stage halfway through the song as the audience proved louder than their microphones, a special moment which highlighted how much support they have and how far the band have come. They returned to the stage to finish the song, before playing ‘Aggro’, ‘Don’t Let Nothing Get in the Way’ (the first single from the new album), ‘Happy Birthday Jane’ and the hit We’ll Live and Die in These Towns.  The band finished with ‘You’re not alone’, where Tom encouraged the crowd to keep crowd surfing “in true Manchester style.” The Enemy left the stage to a satisfied crowd chanting “Manchester la la la!”

REVEREND & THE MAKERS @ THE RITZ – 13/11/15

IMG_7830

‘Mirrors’, released in October this year, was the latest offering from Sheffield’s Reverend and The Makers. Praised by Noel Gallagher and described by The Libertines’ Carl Barat as “a volley of lyrical grenades” (NME), album number five from Jon McClure and his band is a must listen. Last night, the sold out O2 Ritz was treated to some new material and classic Reverend records. Support came from Norfolk’s Franko Fraize and fellow Yorkshire boys The Sherlocks.

A little later than scheduled, Franko Fraize (Frankie Dean) took to the stage, before apologising for the delay in proceedings due to bad traffic.

“15 minutes to smash it out and enjoy yourselves!”

On the first night of his support tour, Fraize didn’t disappoint. The explosion of energy on the stage forced those at the bar to get up and listen. The rapper, who has had support from BBC Music since posting tracks on YouTube, opened with the upbeat ‘Underdog’, which suited the ‘up for it’ Manchester crowd, who gave cheers of approval as the venue filled up. Having only enough time for four songs, Fraize continued to entertain with his infectious charisma, shouting “honestly we’ve had a nightmare… who cares about that setting up!”  ‘Running’, one of the songs he performed at Radio 1’s Big Weekend this year, had the crowd bouncing, with a performance comparable to the likes of Jamie T and Mike Skinner, who he supported back in 2012. Fraize praised the venue and its staff for their hospitality and welcome despite their late arrival, before announcing the last song of the set and his first release on Polydor, ‘Oi! Oi!’ out on Tuesday. Fraize’s Norfolk twang contrasted the Mancunian roars echoing around the venue as he finished his set to a round of applause. He’s back at The Ritz on Tuesday with The Enemy. The set was loud and so was he – expect big things from Franko Fraize.

The 1500 capacity Ritz was almost full for The Sherlocks who entered the stage before flooding the venue with indie rock guitar riffs. The Sheffield boys who, surprisingly, are yet to be signed by a record label, have gained a large following on social media, having over 14,000 followers on twitter. The band, made up of two sets of brothers, opened their set to a roar from the crowd.

“Hello Manchester! We’re The Sherlocks from Sheffield!”

The band had attracted a number of their own fans in the audience, as the crowd sang the lyrics to ‘Escapade’ back to them. It’s hard to believe they weren’t headlining, playing with a sound reminiscent of a young Arctic Monkeys. ‘Live for the Moment’ – their debut single released in October last year, had the crowd jumping before they introduced the penultimate song of the night, ‘Heart of Gold’, which has been championed by Huw Stephens.

“You may have heard this on Radio 1!”

The set finished at 8.15 pm with the brilliant ‘Chasing Shadows’ to a round of applause and an assurance that they’ll be back soon.

Reverend and The Makers came on to a loud and impatient crowd fuelled by pints from the bar, serenading the band with “Manchester la la la!” on the first night of their 12 date tour. Three single spotlights lit up the band (Ed Cosens, Laura McClure, Joe Carnall and  Ryan Jenkinson)  before Jon ‘The Rev’ McClure kicked off the set with ‘Amsterdam’ off the new album, and then ‘Open your window’. “Your f*****g weekend starts here Manchester!” The elbow to elbow crowd jumped along as The Rev danced around the stage with his usual Britpop-esque swagger. Mosh pits opened up for ‘Shine the Light’, before ‘Black Widow’ and ‘Makin Babies’ both from the new album. Each song melted into another, making the set seamless and a non-stop party. The sixth song of the night was The Rev’s 2007 anthem ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’, the first record from their debut album ‘State of Things’ and arguably the band’s most successful single.  The atmosphere was electric reflecting Jon’s energetic and captivating stage presence, as he confessed “I feel like we and you are falling in love a bit now.”  The set continued with favourites including ‘Miss Brown’, ‘Mr Glassalfempty’, ‘Bassline’, ‘Hidden Persuaders’ and ‘Out of the Shadows’. Jon’s unrelenting enthusiasm and interaction with the crowd made the experience a real treat for Rev’s fans, before he acknowledged his love of the city, shouting “we’ve become as popular in Manchester as we have in Sheffield!” For the 12th song of the night, the bold frontman took out his guitar to perform an acoustic version of ‘No Soap in a Dirty War’, a much needed rest for the crowd. When he finished, Jon announced that he had received a text saying there was a newly married bride and groom in the audience. The lights went up and the bride, in her wedding dress, was located and the Ritz congratulated them with a cheer. Joe Carnall, formerly of indie rock band Milburn, performed ‘Something to Remember’, before Jon turned the volume back up for ‘El Cabrera’, ‘The State of Things’, ‘I Spy’ and ‘Last to know’. The whole venue, bar to bar, was moving and Jon took off his coat as the temperature continued to soar as he bounced to ‘Devils Radio’ and ‘Bandits’, swinging his towel above his head. One of the highlights of the night was ‘He Said He Loved Me’, with Jon encouraging everyone to get their knees up and dance. Before the encore, Jon introduced ‘Silence is Talking’ as “one for the ladies”, from the 2009 album ‘A French Kiss in the Chaos’. The last song of the night was a nod to the band’s Ska influence – ‘A Message to You Rudy’ by The Specials. Jon thanked everyone for coming, and ensured he’d be outside with his guitar after the gig, “One Love!”

INTERVIEW – IZZY BIZU

Since our chat, Izzy was selected as one of the BBC’s ones to watch in the Sound of 2016 and has been played throughout the day on Radio 1!!!

IMG_7533
Izzy supporting Foxes in Manchester / MY REVIEW

Izzy Bizu supported Foxes on her UK tour this October and is currently on the road for four nights with Samm Henshaw, before taking to the stage in her own headline show at Hoxton Hall in London at the end of November.

At only 21 years old, Izzy has already gained support from some famous friends, including chart toppers Emily Sande and Naughty Boy, who both happened to be in the audience at the open mic night which proved to be the catalyst for her career and “probably the moment” that cemented her love of performing. Since then, she’s gone on to play in Radio 1Xtra’s Live Lounge and on ‘Later with Jools Holland’. Izzy confesses that the performance of ‘Give Me Love’ and ‘Mad Behaviour’ on the world renowned live music show was “the most nerve wracking thing I’ve ever done but super cool!”

Although she’s only been behind the microphone for around two years, writing lyrics is something Izzy has always enjoyed. “I started writing poems aged 8 or 9… but it was aged 15 when I properly started song writing”. It’s evident that this talent comes naturally to the South Londoner, as the heartfelt lyrics which make up her debut EP ‘Coolbeanz’ continue through to her forthcoming album, due to be released by EPIC in 2016. Izzy had help from her friend and multi-instrumentalist Mika in developing upon the foundations of her album, which mostly took place in her spare room. However, Izzy confesses that she has a slightly odd favourite writing place. “I love writing on the train, it sounds so cheesy but there’s loads of white noise, which I find really calming.”

Prior to the second night of the Foxes tour, Izzy was clearly enjoying life on the road so far, chilling in the car en-route to Manchester, listening to the “sick tunes” her drummer was recommending. Although she confessed that she hadn’t listened to them before today, Honne’s single ‘Warm On A Cold Night’ had clearly made an impression on Izzy, “It’s not something that I would usually go for.” In fact, Izzy listed the electronic duo as one of the artists she’d most like to work with, adding that the track released last year “gave me tingles everywhere!”

The singer songwriter confessed she listens to dance music before going on stage as she “likes a lot of energy before a show”, yet intends her supporting set to be “super chilled back” and “really soulful” with minimal production on stage. Izzy admitted ‘Mad Behaviour’ was her favourite song to perform because it reminds her of the good times spent during the writing process.

Looking back over the year, Izzy recalled Glastonbury Festival as one of the highlights of 2015 so far. “Glastonbury was a lot of fun – Kanye was jokes!” But, what’s in store for next year? Along with the release of her album and writing, Izzy is embarking on a four date tour of the UK in January, once again visiting Manchester in the process. “It should be really cool, I’m really looking forward to that! Obviously there’s loads of things I’d like to do, we’ll just have to wait and see!”

One thing is for certain -Izzy is on the way to the top with no sign of stopping.