I sat down with the super inspiring queer artist Frankie Simone and talked about her journey, her message, how we’re all looking to be confident, and how songs come to her in dreams. And bonus, there’s an unreleased video in here!
We met up before a show at Bardot in Hollywood.
Molly: Can you tell us a little about your background?
Frankie Simone: My name is Frankie Simone. I grew up in Southern California in a small beach town that was a predominantly white community. There was definitely a Latinx community but not many people of color and there were for sure no Puerto Ricans that I knew of in my town.
At school I had friends from all different groups, but definitely felt like I didn’t fit in super well with any one group. When I’d go home it was kind of a different world – salsa music, dancing and Puerto Rican food pretty much all of the time. We’d only speak Spanish (my mom had a rule about it) – it was just a different world.
I grew up making up songs – I started writing young and have kept journals my entire life. I still have them – my wife Che Che has totally asked me to go through them and try and get rid of some but every time I’m like ‘no I can’t, there are thousands of songs in there!’ (She is most definitely super supportive.)
I’ve been writing for a really long time and growing up it felt more like poetry, writing all of my thoughts and fears and inspirations and whatever I was thinking about at the time.
“I’ve always hated the idea of people talking about me behind my back, I think thats why i’ve always made friends with everyone — never gave em a reason to [talk behind my back] — but I guess things in life get to a point where you gotta just not give a fuck, you gotta let go of all your fears because they’ll hold you back from growing greater and more rapidly, to be a greater you, you must ‘set them [your fears] free’. Let [people] talk, you dont care, they dont know the extent, the depths of you, like you do. They may choose to stay surface – or may choose to go deeper and find out more – with an open mind and heart. Let go of those fears and just love to the best of your ability, love yourself first and foremost and nothing will ever tear your down. – To whatever is to come – “
I used to drive around in the car with my mom and my sister, and we would sing three-part harmonies and I didn’t realize at the time or know that I was harmonizing, but that’s how I learned to harmonize!
In high school and in college I sang backup for friends but I had no idea what it would look like if I was the front person of the band. I was definitely afraid of it and wasn’t yet confident enough to go there.
M: How did you decide to step into the spotlight?
F: I had met my partner in Santa Cruz and we had been there for a while and were just wanting a new city and artists to surround ourselves with. We threw together a tour – I had a loop pedal and it was super DIY because I had never been the lead creator in a band. In Santa Cruz I had started singing lead in a band before we left, and it was cool, but it wasn’t my music. It felt like a facet of myself I was starting to explore so I was like ‘ooo, what’s this,’ but I didn’t fully step in.
We did a kickstarter and got it fully funded to tour from LA to Canada and Che Che danced and choreographed all of her movement to my music. I sang and looped my vocals and made beats – it was super experimental and all about sharing our love with the world.
We found Portland along that journey and ended up moving there. When I first got there I was feeling a lot of depression in not knowing how the heck I was going to make my own music. I knew it was the one thing that made me the most happy in my life.
At that time I ended up working at two different music venues – I had three jobs going at one time, just full-on hustle. I started meeting people and collaborating. It wasn’t until I met my friend Graham Barton (he is the engineer and co-producer on my EP that I just released). It was the first time where I was like wow, this person really gets my vision and my music, and I learned so much from him and he really helped me find my sound.
Looking back it feels like a really quick thing but it took a lot of time of continuously choosing it and just knowing that music was the thing for me. I had no idea how the heck I was going to do it and I still don’t know. I’m still fully figuring that out every single day.
M: You’ve really stepped into yourself – what has your journey been to achieve self-confidence and body positivity? I know a lot of people are struggling with stepping into themselves.
I think that’s exactly it and it took me so many years to realize – most of us are in pain and most of us are struggling with something. All of a sudden I had this overwhelming feeling of not being alone in that.
I’m definitely in a place in my life where I’m choosing to step into that confidence every single day. It’s a challenge but I’m making a choice every single day to be that confident and bold part of myself because I know and truly believe that all of us have that ability.
As I get more and more into the music industry and meet people who are incredibly confident or famous, people we idolize and put on this pedestal, and get to know them I realize that they’re human just like I am and they have fears and they have body image issues and are scared of things.
I think growing up I had so many body issues and so much body dysmorphia – I grew up in a town that idolized a very specific type of body and look and who and what a woman was and I was the opposite – I was this little brown girl that like always had a pouchy stomach and really skinny legs and bigger boobs, and I just wanted to be that image of a Barbie doll so bad — and it feels a little cliché to say it like that but that’s what I think a lot of people’s stories are.
It’s something I still struggle with a lot and I’m working really hard every single day to love myself as I am right now – that’s one of my big things for this year is: to love myself and to preach to other people to not be like ‘oh when I lose those 10 lbs I’m going to be banging or when whatever’ – no! Let’s find the love for ourselves right now in this moment no matter what it is on us or what part of our body we have shame around. Let’s try to rid ourselves of that and just be with ourselves right now.
M: How is having a creative partnership with your partner?
F: It’s amazing – so many people were like ‘ah it’ll never work’ but for us it has been super inspiring.
Luckily our art forms complement each other so it’s been absolutely incredible – she choreographs everything – the music videos, the live show, all of it .
M: What’s some advice you wish you had been given before you started this journey?
F: Stop doubting yourself. If you feel the pull to do something do it – just go for it and believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself enough everyone around you will too.
Oh and fake it til you make it – that stuff is so real. Fake it til you make it all the way.
M: What inspires your songwriting?
F: My life experiences and I actually a lot of my songs fully come to me in my dreams. With LOVE//WARRIOR – the song started off really soft and I was in super deep sleep and I could hear every single part of the song – I could hear the horns and the drums and the beats and what they’re doing and what notes there are and it just got louder and louder until I chose to wake up. Sometimes with other songs I don’t wake up, and I’m always pissed in the morning when I can’t remember.
I feel like a lot of us have dreams like this, maybe not with music but with something, and we’re like ‘oh I just want to sleep’ but I started listening to those moments and waking up and writing things down or like going in the bathroom and recording a voice memo and it’s paid off.
I write from life experience and keep hundreds (thousands?) of voice memos. I just write all the time – just kind of word vomiting (for lack of a better descriptor) whatever thoughts or emotions are going through me and pick out pieces that kind of make sense or feel right.
M: What’s next?
F: Tour! All I want to do is tour. I’m really excited for that and am working hard to manifest something big for the rest of the year, currently connecting with a lot of artists that really inspire me, so i’m not sure what’s to come but whatever it is it’s going to be dope!
Here’s a premiere of her new video for LOVE//WARRIOR! Check it out and keep listening wherever you find music.