Aug 012002
 
FROLIC

Kelly O’ Brien and Matthew Chinn, couple in music as in life, with the aid of Jon Beard on guitars, vocals and production are Frolic. Formed in 1995 and based in Orlando, Florida, these three take you on an exploration of the upper stratosphere, to the edge of space, yet constantly remind you of your own mortality and grounding. Buoyed up by some very nice ambient synth work and textures, Kelly’s vocals are impeccable; reminiscent of Enya or Lisa Gerrard without being derivative. Most of their pieces have a very natural and pleasing flow to them. The typical format they follow, simplicity-complex-simplicity, is very satisfying and rewarding. Frolic is an overall uplifting experience with occasional voyages into the depths of the of despair, but rest assured, they never leave you there, but bring you back up to the light by the end.
They signed to the now defunct Velvet Empire label which released their first album Permafrost to much acclaim. Projekt signed the band in the Fall of 2000, to continue the release of their dreamy sounds.

FrolicChain D.L.K.
: Does being married in a band affect the music, considering the rather melancholy mood of the music? Does it make it harder or easier to gain that mood?
Matt: Being married definitely enhances our music. We find that it fosters an environment of safeness to explore the many different human emotions one feels. We almost view it as a sort of lovemaking for us. As far as the melancholy mood we invoke, you still feel those feelings even though you are married, there is just someone close to you that you can share those feelings.
Chain D.L.K.: What inspired the minimalist side of the group and the minimalizing of the vocals?
Matt: Kelly oftentimes complains that I hid her vocals in the mix too much, but I find that for the type of music we create, vocals should be yet another elemental layer of the music, not necessarily the dedicated focal point of the music. We try to suggest a mood rather than a message in our songs. So why we don’t offer the most "sing-along" type vocals, we hope listeners take in the musical experience of the sounds.
As far as inspiration for our minimalistic side, I suppose that stems from when I experiment with my instruments and sounds. I spend much more time tweaking single samples, synth patches, and effects parameters than I do looking for a "library" of sounds that I need. Our tracks usually develop from snippets and collages of samples that I randomly grab and play with for a while until I get them to sound as I please. So while some tracks may only contain 2-3 sounds, the effects give those sounds a larger space to expand. My favorite piece of gear is still an Ensoniq ASR-10 for most of the sample work because I have yet to find a sampler with as much experimental looping algorithms and effects engine (although the Korg Triton effects are pretty impressive).
Chain D.L.K.: What is Kelly’s vocal background and training? And what is your background and training?
Matt: Neither of us has any formal training really. Kelly did sing a lot when she was a little girl. Her voice comes naturally, which is still amazing to me. I tried my hand a piano lessons when I was younger (as well as violin and clarinet), but I’m more interested in constructing sounds with samples and synthesis. The sounds you can create are infinite. That’s what’s so appealing to me about electronic music… there’s not an end to the creation and production of tones and layers available. And the ethereal/ambient genres happen to appeal to my soul the most. Jon Beard, our guitarist, plays many different instruments under his belt (including accordian!). His career is in music production and engineering. He’s been involved in music since we’ve known him.
Chain D.L.K.: Was the environmental aspect of the sound inspired by your upbringing in Ohio, or from another location (I can tell it’s not inspired by Cincinnati, my old home town!)?
Matt: Initially, yes. When we lived in Columbus and recorded our early material for Permafrost and the Fragments of the Past EP we were living in an old Victorian home that hadn’t had much done to it, so the character was still there. The overcast skies of Ohio lent itself to the balminess of those tracks. However, the move to Orlando, FL with its sunny skies has also added to our tracks, giving them more of a "sparkle" rather than a morose edge. I used to play in Cincinnati with my old industrial band Theory Collapse….and you’re right, not much inspiration came from there.. 🙂
Chain D.L.K.: How is everything working with Projekt Records in comparison to your first label?
Matt: Projekt was a 180 degree turn from Velvet Empire, which lasted only about 9 months. The owner kinda "lost interest" and abandoned the label, which was just a sister label to the Philly-based indie/experimental label Burnt Toast Vinyl. The folks at Projekt are extremely professional and it is run as a true business without infringing on the artists work. But they do expect you to hold your own as far as promotions, etc., which is to be expected.
Chain D.L.K.: What are your plans for Frolic in the future? Any side projects planned?
Matt: After a break (year and a half stint in the CA Bay area), we are back in Orlando and working on a new album. Look for additional violin work from our friend Elizabeth and more guitar work from Jon than on the last album ("To Dream, Perchance to Sleep"). I do sell my side project, Firmament, in the online Darkwave store. Its basically ambient tracks, but Kelly makes an appearance on one track. No upcoming music from Firmament right now though as I’m concentrating on Frolic material. frolic@projekt.comwww.frolicmusic.net [interviewed by Shaun Hamilton]