In Conversation With Frizzell D’Souza On Translating Emotions Into Music And What Every Independent Artist Needs to About The Industry

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We have known Frizzell as the Mangalore-based architecture student turned musician who began her career with Youtube. But quite recently she has been releasing her own singles and within a short span, her music has garnered more than 55,000 listeners across platforms. In 2021, she released a love ballad by the title ‘Foolish Once Again’ which still remains the most streamed song. Radar which is a Spotify program to promote emerging artists recognised her as Spotify India’s Radar Artist of the Month. Her songs are a sweet lull into the midnight with melodies that are often impassioned by fragile emotions of love and hope. 

As she wraps up her bachelor’s in Architecture degree, Frizzell is transitioning into a new phase as an independent artist with her debut EP ‘The Hills Know Of You’. The five-track EP is on release with the first single ‘Just As Easily’ already out on streaming platforms. The title track ‘The Hills Know Of You’ releases on 1st October. The songs find inspiration from extremely personal journal entries to simple conversations with friends. The EP remains naturesque in quality, the songs transpire a certain relief found in self-muse and the feeling of belonging. 

We got in touch with Frizzell to know about her musical journey and being an established independent artist what opinions she holds of the current music scene. We do address a common issue most emerging artists are stumbling on and here’s what she has to say about it. Read more below. 

1. When did you start writing/producing music? What was it about music that drew you to it?

My journey in music began as a cover artist on YouTube in 2018, 2-3 years post which I was compelled to try my hand at writing my own music. There was a certain genre I kept going back to while covering music, and that eventually helped me explore my sound as a musician.

Watching young songwriters blossom during the first lockdown in 2020 is what ultimately pushed me to make my debut as an indie artist. Musicians like Ehsaan sir from the trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, and Raghav Meattle built an accidental community through regular lockdown Instagram lives and also encouraged many of us to take the next step.

I was fortunate to have the assistance of a friend, and my now manager, Arvind Shenoy with all my releases so far via The Urban Weaver – an artist representation enterprise founded by him. 

2. What do you like to express through your music? 

I find myself writing the most about lived experiences. The stories and experiences written in my upcoming EP vary from extremely personal journal entries to conversations between close friends, to internal monologues that found their way into a piece of music.

I see music and songwriting as a medium to immortalize these precious moments of joy, times of sorrow, and all the greys in between. By sharing them with the world, I hope these songs can do the same for someone else – put precious memories in little time capsules in the form of these melodies.

3. During song-making, what do you usually start with? How difficult is that first line, the first note? 

More often than not, I like to focus on the story I want to tell through the song before writing the first line or note. It benefits the whole songwriting process by giving it a solid backbone, and from there, the lyrics fall into place without much effort. My go-to instrument to write melodies on is the guitar, so I usually play around with riffs and lyrical schemes until I come up with something that suits the song and I’m happy with. 

4. The upcoming song ‘The Hills Know Of You’ releases as the title track of your debut EP. We would like to hear more about the inspiration behind the EP and what the audiences can expect. 

‘The Hills Know Of You’ – a ballad to all the places we trust with our secrets – is a song that came from a journal entry of a friend dealing with separation amid a lonely spell at the peak of the pandemic. An impromptu trip to the mountains up north, his way of finding much-needed solace in distressing times gave the song its title. The track talks about his urge to scream out internal angst into the vast abyss of the mountains whilst hearing them echo it back to him.

The EP, however, is a piece of music surrounding the idea of a typical story of love – one that grips you, overwhelms you, terrifies you, and even annihilates you. The EP is an ode to the thousand different ways this simple tale can manifest. The ultimate recurring theme, however, is the internal relationship you have with yourself – the way you love and are loved, the way you pick yourself up out of a broken space and learn to love yourself again.

5. Which bands/artists were your early passions and influences? 

My childhood involved a whole lot of music from my parent’s era. This ranged from classic rock to jazz, blues, pop, and so on. So fair to say I grew up listening to artists like Michael Jackson, ABBA, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, and Queen – a collection of my father’s from his time in the late 80’s as a surgeon in the Indian Navy.

My biggest influences in songwriting, however, have been artists like Ed Sheeran whose story and music have easily swayed me into writing my own songs. 

6. What do you like to do outside music? 

Aside of music, art/painting has been a stress-busting hobby that I also pursued by taking up commissions for custom-painted denim jackets. Some of the jackets I sold included iconic visuals like The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, Guns n Roses and AC/DC logos.

I’m also a ballroom dancing enthusiast! My 3rd single, Foolish Once Again was inspired by my love for this dance form – a skill I picked up during my time as a student at Ripvin’s ballroom dance studio in Mangalore. 

7. Do you think social media affects the kind of music artists make?

Of late, I believe social media has influenced music making to become all about writing a great hook that lasts no longer than 15-30 seconds owing to the format of content that is thriving.
Artists have undoubtedly begun to be at the mercy of reduced attention spans and platforms & algorithms that primarily cater to only pop music. As a result, there is an inevitable pressure to stay relevant, often at the cost of comprising the sanctity and one’s honesty to their craft. 

A plausible way around this is to encourage artists to focus on the music and recognize social media as more of a tool to promote and redirect their audience.

8. There is an inherent lack of live venues for independent artists in India. What is your opinion on it, how has it affected you and what do you think needs to change?

The proportion of the number of budding and established artists to the number of live venues in most cities is far off the balance, without a doubt. For relatively new artists like myself in the independent music industry, the lack of venues not only hinders growth and getting our music heard but also robs most under-recognized musicians of the chance to build a career in this field.

It’s commonplace for existing venues to book tried-and-tested artists as a result of things like finances and logistics factoring in, which leaves limited spaces for newer artists to come up. So introducing more live venues that cater to various scales and types of performances will consequently mean a healthy space and community for artists to grow in.