The American electropop duo on their new debut album and touring with Bastille.
Giving up the security of a job in retail to pursue music takes a lot of stones. But for James Sunderland and Brett Hite, the leap of faith was cushioned by the fact that they were both leaving the same job at athletics apparel store Lululemon to start electropop band FRENSHIP.
Having started making music together in 2013, the duo broke out with their 2016 track “Capsize“, featuring Emily Warren. They’ve since joined British band Bastille on a North American tour, and released a stream of singles building up to their debut album Vacation, which dropped via Counter Records today.
Its 13 tracks are packed with delicate harmonies and shimmery synths, creating sounds that evoke emotions from melancholic nostalgia to hope and joy. Lyrically, it covers everything from doubt and insecurities within romantic relationships and their love-hate connection to their current home, LA.
We caught up with FRENSHIP to find out more about the inspirations behind Vacation, touring with Bastille and why they want to make you feel…
So you guys met working at Lululemon? When did you decide to start making music together?
[James] That we did. We used to sell a mean spandex pant. We were really friends first before we ever thought of working together. We eventually got tired of drinking Santa Monica dry so we tried our hand at making a song and it was good. It caught the ear of some of our industry friends and eventually lead to us signing a publishing deal.
Do you have similar musical influences?
[Brett] Not really. James tends to like bad music. I have exquisite taste.
Of course… How did you formulate your own sound and how would you describe it?
[James] We never really thought too hard about it. We always try to stick to what we like and try to be unique with our writing and our production. It’s a nostalgic sound and there’s a familiarity in it all. We pull from a ton of different genres and I’m sure whatever our parents played us in our younger days made its way into our music today.
Would you say the sound evolved on this new project Vacation? What’s influenced that?
[Brett] Definitely, there was some Darwinism at play during the making of this record. Our live show honestly had the greatest influence on these records as that’s come to be the core of who we are. We also somewhat had a chip on our shoulder I think to prove that there’s more to us than “Capsize”.
And you both live in LA now? How do you find the lifestyle and music scene there?
[James] We do. I’ve been here for about 10 years and Brett under 7 years. We’ve definitely put in our time here. Lifestyle wise it has a lot to offer—there are constantly things to do and people to be with but we can find it a bit claustrophobic at times. We’re from the mountains and miss that open space and fresh air. There’s a ton of great music here of course and plenty of great venues to go to, with the Greek Theatre and The Hollywood Bowl at the top of the list for me.
What themes do you explore in the album lyrically?
[Brett] The sense of longing is very present throughout. Be it longing for a person or a place or whatever, there’s a sense of heartache and hope that we try to include in most of our songs.
What was it like touring with Bastille? Do you have any highlights or funny stories from the tour?
[James] Just a dream. They’re all damn sweethearts and taught us a lot about performing and what it takes to bring a show to the next level. Too many stories but in short, they make us stay out late and partake in libations. Also, Brett tore his pants on stage and wasn’t wearing underwear.
And you’ve collaborated with them for “Won’t Let You Go” – can you tell us about what inspired this song?
[Brett] Dan (Bastille’s lead singer) always wants to hold us so we wrote a song about it. On a serious note, during a tour of theirs, we flew out and wrote with him in Raleigh, NC. I think being on the road all the time there’s a constant pull to hold onto the things that are near and dear to us all the while acknowledging our imperfections within our relationships.
What was the most difficult or emotional song to write on the record?
[James] For me, it was “Get Out My Way.” I was feeling really down about myself, my ability to make music and our career in general. I just felt I couldn’t write a good song anymore. My emotional state felt like it was deteriorating and I thought I was bringing down my fiancé. The song Is really telling her to get out my way before I screw up our relationship. It was a short period but a heavy one.
Where can we catch you perform live this year?
[Brett] We’re about to head out on the US leg of our Vacation tour, with plans for Europe and Australia I believe in the fall.
What are some of your goals as a band? Any artists you’d love to collaborate with?
[James] We want to play stadiums some day and take this as far as we can. We want to have a 20-30 [year] career–can’t wait for the reunion tour. There are so many artists we like, but to name a few: Coldplay, Miguel, Picasso, Bach – you know, the usuals.
What do you want the legacy of FRENSHIP to be?
[Brett] That we make music that has an impact on people and pulls them to the extremes of their emotions. That we can make you laugh, cry, dance and be still.