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Interview: Frankey & Sandrino on their &Hope EP, lockdown challenges and more

We caught up with the duo to talk about their forthcoming release and get some insight into the daily challenges of an electronic duo.

Berlin duo Frankey & Sandrino are well known in the electronic community for their incredible melodic releases on renowned labels, such as Mule Musiq, Cin Cin, Kompakt, Innervisions and their Sum Over Histories imprint. 

Their latest release on the label comes as a corner-turning piece. Frankey & Sandrino’s &Hope EP serves as a reinstatement of their commitment to pioneering electronic music and a welcomed breath of fresh air. 

Almost five years since their last EP, the ‘Acamar’ hitmakers are back with a breathtaking collection of raw and striking tracks just in time for the easing return of clubland’s global operation.

We caught up with the duo to talk about their forthcoming release and get some insight into an electronic duo’s daily challenges – working collaboratively during the most challenging period our industry has ever faced. 

Here is how it went: 

Q. Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Firstly, this release marks a new beginning for you as an artistic project. Why did you decide it was time to venture into new territory, and was there any specific reason or event that triggered this ‘rebirth’ – if you will?

Sandrino: Hey, thanks for having us. I can see why it seems like a new beginning for us, but I would say it’s more about a renewed commitment with a lot of fresh energy and ideas. Whereas some people and artists in particular maybe had to question a lot in the last year, for us it was the opposite: we knew that working and creating music together was exactly what we should be doing. This release really signifies that. First of all, it’s about time to return to our label; it’s been four years since our last EP Virgo. Regarding the music, in the studio, we try to leave all sorts of thoughts (like musical direction, commercial considerations and so on) out of the creative process and go with the current mood and flow. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but this release is an organic and natural element of our creativity at the time we were making it. 

Q. Are there any specific creative elements or distinct instruments in the new EP – &Hope – that echo your new acoustic direction?

Frankey: Sandrino convinced me to play the Bass guitar in the track Hope. So this was maybe the first time a real instrument made out of wood that resonates with metal strings, played with human hands, gave the initial idea to a track. An idea that was born outside the computer in the more traditional way of playing an instrument. Interestingly this gave us a very clear direction, what was to do inside the computer and the whole track was finished in one flow. Then there were the vocals of Ia Öberg that already existed, so also here we had an inspirational source outside the electronic universe we’re usually in. But in general, I wouldn’t call it a new acoustic direction. The Track Green Leaf may sound acoustic, but it’s not: all sounds in this track are from the Mellotron. An electric mechanical instrument, created in 1963, which Arturia brought back to life with a beautiful emulation. It plays sampled sounds from a 3-track tape machine, and that gives every sound a lot of character. Used already by the Beatles and a lot of other bands. But this was also not planned: Sandrino and I arrived at my home after a long studio day, and then I remembered that Mellotron machine and that I just wanted to show it to Sandrino, because “sounds with character” is something Sandrino lives for 🙂 So that evening, my little “let me show you something quickly“ intention ended up in Green Leaf. An unforced capturing of the moment, and also here we didn’t touch the track after. It felt right how we created it that evening. 

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Q. How do you typically work together on music, and have you faced any obstacles in your creative process – given the current pandemic situation, for example?

Sandrino: The best way to work together is when we both sit in Frankey’s studio in Essen, forget about the world outside and fall into a joint kind of meditative state and go with the flow. Due to restrictions, we couldn’t see each other as much as we wanted; even though we work online via zoom on music, it does not replace our sessions when we are physically together in the studio.

Frankey: Sandrino and I speak about music almost daily, which is probably already a foundation of what we do. But even though we found a good way to produce together on zoom in recent times, it can not fully replace the experience of being together in the studio. But an even bigger obstacle is the absence of clubs, which always gave me a different perception of certain details in our music. The length of tracks and arrangements sometimes feel different to me when I’m in a club environment. I remember quite a few moments when Sandrino was very convinced of doing something exactly how he wanted it. I felt like, “I don’t know exactly why you want to do it this way, but I trust you here“. Then, the following weekend, when playing it out for people in a club, I thought, “ah, now I understand…”.

Q. Your music is undoubtedly intricate and has a lot of depth to it. What one golden workflow tip would you give aspiring artists struggling to communicate their profound artistic vision within their work?

Frankey: It´s important to trust yourself and keep your mind free of what’s out there or what’s cool at the moment. If you want to stand out, you need to find your artistic language. And another simple but maybe most important technique for creating music is: erasing things instead of adding.

Sandrino: I think there is no such thing as a secret but more the intrinsic motivation to create music we deeply care about and the common urge to find the perfect sounds. No compromises here!

Q. With the new direction you are taking musically, will this influence the future releases and the A&R process of your label – Sum Over Histories?

Sandrino: As mentioned before, we don’t see it as a new direction but more of a natural development born out of both our desires to seek the new continually. With Sum Over Histories, we want to be as open as possible, and this means whatever we like and feel fits in some way, we will release. There is no formula. 

Q. Lastly, with nightlife beginning to creep back in around the world, what one topic/issue do you think the electronic music community should focus specifically on improving or changing moving forward?

Frankey: I think one reason why I like the electronic music scene is that I feel it’s always kind of moving and developing. In classical music, blues or Jazz, they pretty much play the same music, the same track over and over again. I see this problem sometimes also in our scene, where a lot of people just try to deliver copies of what’s out there, so I always hope there are enough artists out there trying to push things in new directions.

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Sandrino: For me, music & clubs were and always will be a place to let go, escape daily routines and join a common trip to the stars without leaving earth. It’s an intimate moment, and I wish we could all live more for those unique moments and not try to record them.

&Hope EP is out now via  Sum Over Histories

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