The Frown is not dead. Eliza Cro Day (our resident witch) had some time with Eve Rakow to chat death, living and the new album W.A.N.D.
So, were you dead?
I don’t think that’s what we meant at all. It’s more of an affirmation of life rather than a declaration of revival.
What does it mean to be alive?
I think I absorb everything. I think I am a little sponge. A little soft sea creature that aborbs everything. That’s what this art is – it’s a reflection of what you see and what you touch and what hurts you and what angers you, what moves you and what doesn’t move you and what upsets you and what challenges you and we take that and put it all back out. That’s what this album is.
I love reflections! Tell me about the artwork.
It landed up being a collaborative work. The prism is a shot from the artist Robyn Nesbitt, who is Kleinbaas’ sister who has shot a film for us. A ‘we are not dead,’ film which will be screened at our launches in Joburg and Cape Town. So that’s the prism. The girl in the image is me. It’s a self-portrait, a photograph that i took of myself that will make up a series which we will post along with each song on W.A.N.D. this image in particular was a really scary thing for me.
I’m known for being a never-nude and yet I knew early on that the album cover was going to have to be me and a very vulnerable me.
I shot it in my flat and set up a little studio and self-timer. My flatmates all sat in their rooms and promised to not come out. It was difficult to then have to sit with those images and directly confront a naked me and I didn’t want anything to be sexualised or like that at all. I just wanted me as a girl in my human form. It was also inspired by the neverending story’s first trial scene where Autreyu is there and they’re saying something like, ‘only those who are truly themselves will not be shot down or can get past or something…’ and there are all these lasers and that’s the image I had. Kleinbaas and I are obsessed with the neverending story. It’s what raised us and taught us that being allowed to imagine and dream are the most important things in life and you have to hold on to that.
Which song on W.A.N.D. are you closest to?
“Light People”. That song says everything I can say at this point in my life. The concept of light people is from a book. I’m obsessed with reading autobiographies and biographies of people – not just musicians but just of anyone. I love to know people’s stories and how they got to where they are. I was reading this biography of David Bowie written by Angela Bowie. So written from the perspective of a disgruntled ex-lover which is fabulous because it reads like a tabloid and she really draws you in, telling you about backstage and you’re in this world you never thought you’d have a chance to be involved in and then she’s just like bam! Saying, ‘I’m either going to keep you or lose you,’ where she says she believes David Bowie is a part of the light people which she then goes on to describe as an alien race that has been brought to earth at different points in time, changing history. Big people like Bob Marley, Bowie, Hitler!
Right! Good and bad people who have been brought to earth to change the course of history. When I read that, I started crying and it was the first time I had ever felt a connection to anything. The wires connecting to me are up there, out into the universe which used to make me feel like I wasn’t connected to anything at all. Nothing is rooted here.
I’ve got to read that. My favourite song on W.A.N.D is, “Baby”. What’s that song about?
“Baby” is about obsession. About being addicted to another human being. To the point where you hold them so tightly that you suffocate them, killing you, them and the relationship.
I also really love, “Memory Foam”. Is that, like, a real thing?
“Memory Foam” is about this one time when i was talking to a friend of mine in architecture and they brought up the concept of memory foam in terms of what they were constructing and I was like, wait, what is that? It’s such a beautiful thing. Basically memory foam is like those pillows you get from Verimark that, like, mould to the shape of your head. It works with heat so if you put your hand into it and release your hand, the imprint of your hand will stay there for a time and then it will slowly go back to it’s original shape. So I used that as a metaphor for the impact of people on each other. How you imprint on another person.
How it stays there, you stay there. You can’t erase it. It is only the process of time that makes you, you again.
Because it’s your birthday tomorrow, do you feel like you are you right now?
Yes! Every day I get closer to birthing this album, I feel more comfortable in my human form.
So in your fairy tale collection, what is the song, “palace” about?
“Palace” was written about escapism, as is a lot of the music from The Frown. Creating worlds in your mind and your heart, your dreams – somewhere you can run away to when things get difficult in your real life. It’s a euphoric, utopian world, you know, where merbabes float in fishtanks and stuff like that. The name of the song my ghost will play at my funeral is in there, called halcyon on and on, which is basically inviting people to the palace. Where nothing will ever hurt them again.
A never never land?
So you’ve created this amazing, imaginary world with W.A.N.D. What can people expect to see along with it at your debut performance of the album in jozi at the kalashnikov gallery?
I will say this. We chose a gallery because it’s the kind of space you can interpret in any kind of way. It will not feel like a club, sit-down, stand-up show – I don’t know. There are only 70 spaces available for that show. I want to keep it special. The people who come to that show will receive the album but it won’t take the form of a vinyl, cd, cassette – nothing like that. It will be something else. For a month, the people who have gone to that show will be the only ones who will have the album. We decided to launch in Johannesburg first because that is where it was conceived and where we’re from. It is our first home. So we’re giving it to the inhabitants there this album first.
W.A.N.D by The Frown will be launched in Johannesburg on the 31st of july at the kalashnikov gallery. Find out more here.
Soon to be available on The Frown’s Soundcloud page. Expect a track a week from the 1st of August along with special artwork made for you by The Frown