FRENSHIP – an electropop duo that consists of Brett Hite and James Sunderland – have been making music together since 2013, but it wasn’t till 2016 that they broke out with their track “Capsize”, which features singer-songwriter Emily Warren. “Capsize” has since been certified platinum in the US, as well as several platinum and gold certifications worldwide; to date, it’s been streamed over 600 million times and charted in several countries.
Last year, the duo parted ways with a major label and are now working with Counter Records (part of the Ninja Tune family). Their most recent release is the single “Wanted A Name” feat. Yoke Lore, and it’s also the first taste of their upcoming album (which will be released later this year). Written after their first headlining tour, which saw the duo performing in front of their largest audiences yet, “Wanted A Name” combines FRENSHIP’s buoyant electronics with Yoke Lore’s uplifting, succulent take on indie pop.
Now, FRENSHIP are sharing an acoustic video for “Wanted A Name.” Filmed in Ojai, Calif., Hite and Sunderland trade melodies with Yoke Lore in this stripped-down version. The lush setting lends a relaxed feel to the song, though the energy is still palpable. Take a look at the acoustic video for “Wanted A Name” below, and read what FRENSHIP had to say about the song, their writing process, and wanting their music to be your best friend.
SUBSTREAM: You released a new single, “Wanted A Name” ft. Yoke Lore, this week. In your own words, what is the song about and what was it inspired by?
Brett Hite: We toured with Yoke Lore for two months and we are big fans of his. He’s a wonderful dude! We were all kind of in the same place—at the end of 40 or 50 shows, we all realized it’s easy to get complacent day-in day-out doing the same thing. This song is a bit of a nod to why we started making the music in the first place and remembering that excitement.
James Sunderland: It’s about realizing that it can all become a little too normal and can start to feel like a job. We all realized we’re fortunate to do what we do, and this song is a reminder to recapture that original magic of touring and putting out music.
SUBSTREAM: “Wanted A Name” is a great collaboration because it sounds as much like a Frenship song as it does a Yoke Lore song – it really gives a good idea of who you both are as artists. What was it like working with Yoke Lore and how did that collaboration come about?
BH: We’re good buds! It makes it super easy to work with someone when you’re already good friends, and it allows you to be more honest more immediately with each other. Having that relationship with Yoke Lore made it easy to sift through the tracks that we didn’t like and create amazing songs.
SUBSTREAM: When I listen to Frenship, your song sounds like they belong as much blasting in a stadium as they would playing in my car driving around the city. Do you have any particular setting in mind when you’re making music? If so, what is it?
JS: It’s exactly that. We make music with the intention of it being played live in front of huge live audiences. That’s really the goal, is to get to play arenas. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a tiny, intimate song to listen to while driving in your car, but we always love to make music that translates into huge spaces live. I think that more and more in our songwriting, we factor in the live side of things – in the sense of, could we see this song being played live. I think with our first batch of music it was just studio based and we weren’t thinking about touring the songs down the line. Now, the live show is consistently in our heads these days when we write songs.
SUBSTREAM: You’ve previously collaborated with Emily Warren on “Capsize”; what are some other artists you’d love to work with?
BH: Being slightly old guys ourselves, we are big fans of older groups and we’d love to see their process – bands like Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Sting, Elton John. My dad shared a Joe Walsh interview on a podcast with me, and he was talking about the difference between music back then and now. Walsh said [that] now music is so immediate, you can make edits so quickly. Back then you jammed in a room for 3 days straight and ended up with something cool at the end of it.
That’s kind of what we do when we make music – we try to capture that old school feeling.
SUBSTREAM: After the success of your 2016 single “Capsize”, have you felt any pressure to follow it up? If so, how has that affected your writing process?
JS: Initially we had felt pressure – we try to play it cool, but the real answer was…yes, we felt a lot of pressure because that song just made life easy, so we wanted to continue to have that success. I think more now, we’ve come around to say “who cares” because that allows us to create our best work. We don’t want to make music to hit a certain demographic or hit a current hip-hop trend. We’re trying our best to forget trends and have a 20, 30, 40-year career here.
SUBSTREAM: Last year (2018), you parted ways with a major label and you’re now back in the independent world with Ninja Tune and Counter Records. Why pursue the independent route, and what has it meant to you to be independent?
BH: At the end of the day, you just want a team around you that really cares and wants to champion your music, so it’s great to have found an awesome team at Ninja Tune and Counter Records that’s willing to die for us (figuratively, obviously)!
SUBSTREAM: What do you want listeners to get out of your music?
JS: I listen to new music and I can’t feel it—nothing moves me a ton these days, and I want people to just be moved by our music. I think there’s such a high volume of music that the care and love that goes into music is somehow neglected these days.
BH: If our music could provide any perspective into the listener’s life, to slow things down, and put value back in the right places, that would be amazing. We want our music to be your best friend.
SUBSTREAM: What can listeners expect from the album? How will it compare to the other releases in your catalog?
Hite: We can’t give too much away, but we can say that it was written over a really long time period – there’s a lot of emotions in it, from being mad about the past, to getting excited about something new, and everything in between.
SUBSTREAM: How do you respond to haters or any kind of negativity surrounding your music?
JS: YouTube is a particularly vicious platform for haters. It’s just so funny to us. We’re old enough where our identities are wrapped into everything we do and say with FRENSHIP, so I don’t think we worry about it too much anymore. Sometimes the YouTube comments are great – we shake them off then it kind of becomes a joke later on. Our job is to make people feel passionately, one way or another – hopefully we get more hate this year [laughs].