Avalon Frost is a featured musician at Unlikely 2.0. Check out a few of her tunes.
DG: What do you hope to achieve in your work?
AF: Longevity. I really enjoy performing, but I live for the creation of music. I would love to have a lengthy career as a lyricist/songwriter, beyond the point where I quit performing live. Diane Warren, Prince, Dolly Parton, and Richard Marx, although famous in their own right as performers, have all had very lucrative, lengthy careers as songwriters/producers for other artists across multiple genres. Warren has had tens of songs in the top 10 and Prince habitually writes under pen names for anything from pop to rock to gospel and country.
DG: What sort of musical training have you had?
AF: I play several classical instruments including flute and bassoon, and a bit of guitar and piano. I definitely would not call myself a professional "anything" player. Over the years, I have taken courses both in school and privately in voice, composition, and music theory. I still take voice and piano when I have time.
DG: Where do you derive your sounds from? Is there a certain form of music that you find particularly inspirational?
AF: Several of the tracks on my upcoming album were created from beats furnished by the producer(s) I worked with on any given song. I usually have an idea for what I want, as far as a "feel" for the song. Maybe I'll have a verse or two written. Most producers have thousands of beats, some of them more complete than others, so we talk it out and then start listening to what they have to choose from. I am very involved and will usually make suggestions about the melody, timing, keys, additional instrumentation, etc. and we build it together from there. Other producers will have pretty much everything finished, but are looking for the right voice to make it complete.
With Holmes [Ives], he already knew that he wanted to do a progressive house track and had most of the music already laid down but no lyrics. For projects like his, I'll come in and we'll have a writing session or two and maybe record some scratch vocal tracks to use as a guide for the final recording. For a song like "Come With Me," I knew I wanted a mini-tribute to Portishead and many of their tracks have a very defined bass line or some other instrumentation that is the focus of the track. I was sitting in a cab on my way to the airport and heard the engine of a cement mixer on the curb skip a gear. That odd little hesitation stuck in my head for days, and when I got home I sat down at the keyboard and started randomly fiddling with chords and progressions. The next time I saw [DJ] Boom, I played him what I had come up with and he built the rest of the composition. I'm so goofy, I was like "yeah, and I want that UFO noise." He instantly told me that the correct term was a theremin and managed to find an old Moog somewhere. We just let Scotty Beam run wild on the guitar solos and he did such an awesome job.
DG: What does your 'process' consist of?
AF: I don't really have a process. I have more inspirations and quirks that anything else. "Palace of Sound" is a prime example. Marc (aka ESP of the Liquid Gurus) and I had standing recording dates on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes he would give me CDs of beats and tell me to go home and write, others he would try to keep things fresh and just play me something and we'd ad lib. I really liked the rhythm of "Palace of Sound" because it reminded my of "Girl from Ipanema," probably the most well-known bossa nova song ever written. On a whim, I picked up a music dictionary in the studio and looked up bossa nova and any other term that even remotely applied to the song's structure. It was called "The Dictionary Song" forever and we still refer to it that way in private.
DG: Who or what has been your greatest inspiration? Musically? Personally?
AF: Musically, I'd have to say artists like Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, and David Bowie. When I heard each of them, their music was so different from mainstream pop or rock. Massive Attack, Portishead, and Tricky all encapsulate these expansive music landscapes that leave just you gasping for air. It's all just so full. Bowie is truly a chameleon. From Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke to his current music, he is forever reinventing not only himself and the Bowie mystique but his sound. He's a fabulous storyteller and makes the listener live the experience with him.
Personally: I am going to have to say my mom. What's the phrase "you can't get there from here"? My mother is a prime example of someone who has proved that to be an incorrect statement. You just have to dream big.
DG: And what are you inspired by?
AF: People living without fear. Any time I read or hear about someone who drops everything to go off and follow their dreams, or make a radical change in their lives, with a damn the torpedoes gusto I smile. I think more people would be happier if they could put aside the fear. Human beings spend to much time fretting over the potential negative "what ifs," instead of looking at the potential for positive outcomes.
DG: What drives you in your work?
AF: Not wanting to wake up middle aged and wondering "what if…"
DG: What is your upcoming schedule?
AF: I'm pretty busy at the moment. I'm still in the studio finishing up the album and I'm doing publicity and promotional stuff for "8 Letters" with Holmes. We're probably going to do a few more live shows before he starts his summer tour.
DG: What advice would you give to people with a passion who are stuck in 'the grind' as you found yourself at one point?
AF: Never abandon your passion. Passion is what keeps us alive and energized. If you are a musician: play every day. Whether it's just rocking out in your home by yourself or finding a jam session through your local free paper. I played in a county orchestra for a while: free concerts on the square and Sousa for the Fourth of July. It made me feel good…that's what passion does.
DG: How can people find out more about you?
AF: Visit me on the web at www.avalonfrost.com!
Danielle Grilli is a poet and visual artist, as well as the multimedia director for Unlikely 2.0. Check out her bio page.