Frankie Rose is a patient songwriter, the kind of artist who will tweak a song for a year until it feels right. It took her that long to write Cage Tropical, her 2017 release written during a time in which she was working for a catering company and living in her hometown of Los Angeles.
And due to her process and the time she takes to craft music, performing the songs that are derived from personal hardship and alienation doesn’t reopen any wounds for Rose.
“It’s weird, because even though these songs are personal to me and have a personal theme, by the time I’m done making the song, I usually have very little feeling,” says Rose on the phone with City Paper. “It’s almost this abstract thing — when you perform it, it’s almost like I could be performing a cover at that point. It gets worked and worked so I stop having a personal feeling about it anymore.”
The songs on Cage Tropical reflect a new wave, goth-pop sound that leans into distinct synth textures to create feeling. It’s the kind of music that defies easy labelling but still, there are recognizable influences like The Cure, Cocteau Twins or Bauhaus.
“It’s pretty hard to define my music, which maybe makes it more difficult for me in the end,” says Rose, “But I’m influenced by a lot and draw upon the best of each thing. There are sounds I really like that I want to be present in my music, and a lot of them are from the ‘80s.”
Those sounds include cold drums and synthesizers, drawing from goth bands from that era.
“I really like things a little dark,” says Rose.
What isn’t dark, however, is the musical growth and personal changes Rose has made as of late. She’s opened herself up to letting the universe take the reins.
“What I’ve noticed is the more I let go of the wheel and stop forcing my will onto everything, [the more] everything works out,” explains Rose. “Not only is it more gentle on me because I’m not as attached to results, but it seems like doors fly open better.”
When the door flew open for Rose to tour with Alvvays, it presented a surprise opportunity for her to update her lineup and sound before hitting the road.
“There’s even a visual element I made myself,” says Rose. “The record is being presented in a different way than I’ve ever done it before, and that’s really inspiring to me.”
“It’s exactly the way I want it to be, maybe for the first time ever,” adds Rose with a chuckle, “It’s really cool.”