IT seems The Beatles are a very important act…
to the New York songwriter Eric Frisch. He talks about The Beatles' influence and which of their songs he played for four hours on-repeat; other artists who have made an impact on him; details about his latest track, Baby Don’t Stop – and how the extraordinary video (for the song) came together.
Combining the sounds/musicianship of Fleetwood Mac, Cat Stevens and The Black Keys; there is a heady and intriguing mix I was keen to know more about. Frisch talks about the New York scene and plans for new material; what gigs he approaching; the music he was exposed to as a child – and how Classical music is coming into his life at this stage (having hit thirty).
Hi, Eric. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey there. I’m great. My week’s been amazing. I had a really nice Thanksgiving weekend in Miami with my family.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name’s Eric Frisch. I’m a thirty-year-old Indie singer/songwriter influenced by The Beatles, The Beach Boys; Cat Stevens, R.E.M.; Fleetwood Mac, Beethoven and Mozart. I’ve been living in New York for the past seven years.
Baby Don’t Stop is your new single. What is the story behind it?
I decided to play Baby Don’t Stop one night with my band at a show at The Delancey, a small dive-bar in New York (next to the Brooklyn Bridge), and the crowd absolutely loved it. I was pretty surprised - because I had written the song about ten years before I played it live for the first time. It’s just the repetition of three words,’ baby don’t stop’ (over and over again), as the song builds.
I wrote it when I was nineteen and stoned in my parents’ basement, sitting at my piano. I wish I could tell you there’s a really deep meaning behind it but, the truth is, I just kept singing these words at the piano - and it felt like it meant something and it kept building. As I was playing this song in my basement, I grabbed my RadioShack tape-recorder. The original recording is twelve minutes long; with me building up and singing Baby Don’t Stop at the piano.
I left it on my tape recorder for about ten years before I decided I wanted to record it in the studio. Why did I wait so long?! I didn’t have the confidence to play this song to a crowd for about ten years; I didn’t think anyone would get it. I was also worried that it wouldn’t translate to a recording so well.
The video is quite intriguing! It mixes a variety of old-looking footage. How did it all come together?
I think the video does a good job of capturing and enhancing the build-up and epic feeling I had in mind for the song. I knew a student filmmaker at N.Y.U. whose work I really like - and I played him the song - and he had the idea to make the video about a bunch of different people and important moments in their lives...
It would sort of focus on one couple but the video would really be about how fragile life is; how precious every moment is. Everything ties together and it's all of the little moments in life that make it so special. He had the idea of crowdsourcing a bunch of footage from all his friends...so he sent out Facebook posts, Twitter messages; emails and good old-fashioned texts; phone calls and love-letters to people we know.
At the end of the day...we had video submissions from over sixty of our friends.
In terms of sound; it, oddly, straddles The Black Keys and Phil Collins. Are those artists you are inspired by?
I really like The Black Keys and Phil Collins, so I’m flattered to hear you say that.
Who were the artists you lionised growing up? Was your childhood house musical?
The Beatles are the reason I became a musician...
The first time I heard Rubber Soul, I listened to the song You Won’t See Me on-repeat for four hours straight on a train from Toronto to Montreal - when I was seventeen and visiting my then-girlfriend. Then I got into The Beach Boys, The Moody Blues; Cat Stevens, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan; C.S.N.Y. (Crosby Stills, Nash & Young), Fleetwood Mac; The Mamas and the Papas, Elton John; Donovan, E.L.O.; The Kinks, Simon & Garfunkel; Sam Cooke, Van Morrison; Traveling Wilburys, The Doors; C.C.R. (Creedence Clearwater Revival) and Chicago Transit Authority.
It seems like you splice 1950s/1960s music with modern sounds. Do you think it is important to preserve older tastes – but look forward and recognise where music is right now?
I definitely think it’s important to preserve older tastes and still look forward today.
What’s really funny is, the older I get, the further back in time I go with my taste in music. When I was seventeen, it was all about the 1960s. Then; when I graduated college and turned twenty-two, I went back in time to the 1950s. Now that I’m thirty; I swear I mostly listen to Classical music from the eighteenth century - Beethoven and Mozart mostly.
What can we expect in terms of future music? Are you working on other stuff?
Speaking of Classical music; I plan on releasing an album with my new band, The Surprise Symphony, next year that will be heavily influenced by Classical music - while still looking forward and being influenced by great Rock bands today like The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes; Tame Impala etc. It’s all about production.
That’s my dream right now.
Toronto is where you started life. What compelled the decision to move to New York? Do you miss the scene back home?
I learned how to produce in my parents’ basement in Toronto when I was twenty-two - after graduating college. I knew nothing about Pro Tools but I was determined to figure it out for myself. No one helped me. I had no idea what compression and reverb were, and I didn’t know plugins existed...
So, if I wanted something to sound like it was recorded in a big hall, I would take my microphone into the shower and record it singing ten feet away from it. That’s how I did all my recordings: just figuring it out on my own like that. My parents said: “If you really want to be a musician, you should move to New York, Nashville or L.A. - because that’s where the music industry will find you...”
So; I chose New York - and I’m still waiting to be found…
What is New York like for a new artist? Is it somewhere that keeps you busy and inspired?
New York is an alright place for a new artist…
I think it’s true it’s the toughest place in the world to make it - and it toughens you up. But, sometimes, it can bring you down. I don’t think it’s the right place to start. Maybe end in New York but start somewhere else. I really like getting on the road and playing shows outside of New York.
I plan on moving to L.A. in January.
IN THIS PHOTO: Portugal. The Man/PHOTO CREDIT: Maclay Heriot
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
1. Abbey Road by The Beatles
I think it’s the greatest album of all time.
2. Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens
If there’s one artist I aspire to sound like, it’s Cat Stevens. So many amazing songs on this album (Teaser and the Firecat is a close second).
3. Chicago Transit Authority by Chicago
This is their debut album - and it’s an album that is so worth listening to from start to finish. Love the orchestration.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Meet as many people as you can and make as many connections as you can, at the lowest level possible, in the music industry. There are all sorts of ways to make it, I suppose, and people have a lot of ideas about success in their heads.
I think the best things happen organically. Meet someone, hit it off and start making music - or collaborating or find someone else through that person that can help you.
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where can we see you play?
I just got back from a tour of the Northeast - so I don’t have any shows lined up right now. But, I’ll probably play a farewell New York show in January.
My guess is at Pianos on the Lower East Side.
Christmas is not too far away. Do you have plans already - or will you be busy working?
I’ll be working on a new album with my band, The Surprise Symphony.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
How about If I Fell by The Beatles. That song has the best harmonies...
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