Frank & Tony (AKA Francis Harris and Anthony Collins) are without a doubt one of our favourite production duos in the business. Both individually and as a twosome their music really does it for us. Over the past couple of years they have put out several EPs as Frank & Tony, all of which have been based around a sultry, well-executed deep house sound ethic – their collaboration with the equally talented Bob Moses was amongst that exemplary back catalogue of music. Now they’re releasing an entire album’s worth of music, across three EPs called ‘You’, ‘Go’ and ‘Girl’, and it’s just as we expected – absolute class. With that in mind, we grabbed the guys for a little chat about the LP and what else they’re up to…
You guys have been working together for a while now, was there always an idea/ambition to do an album?
It grew organically, but with constant work in the studio, regular purchases of new hardware and a continuous inspiration to write new beats, all of which lead to the album.
How did you conceptualise the whole project? Was there a starting point, or did you have happen to have a bunch of music that seemed to fit together somehow?
After almost of year of shows together, especially our all night long affairs at Output, we began to see a maturation of our sound and our relationship not only personally, but, more important, artistically. We wanted an LP to be a direct reflection of the feel of our DJ sets. The previous cuts we wrote had a lot more of laid back song-based structure, especially the work with Bob Moses, but our sets began leaning more and more in the direction of a raw, melodic Detroit and New York influenced sound. This feel from our sets coupled with abandoning almost all digital production in place of almost an entirely analogue writing and mixing environment, led us to making the album, which, in the end took around six to eight months to write and mix.
As Frank & Tony, there’s definitely a distinct sound – how much fun was it having the room to expand this sound on the new album?
There is nothing more reassuring to a DJ, especially a house DJ, than a regular crowd. House music to us has always been a reflection of solidarity with a community. Our residency at the Panther Room, and the crowd that follows us, provides a canvas for us to express ourselves freely in a way that is a constant a source of inspiration.
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There’s a lot of new material on the LP, how long did it take to compile and collate the tracks? What was your process in terms of composing and selecting music, did you make a big batch of tracks and whittle them down or make tunes specifically for an album project??..
As stated before, the writing process spanned six-eight months, but the more arduous aspect was in the mixing, opting for an analogue environment rather than in the box. There were a few tracks along the way that didn’t fit, but overall, everything that was coming out of our sessions seemed to fit like a glove, especially as we were testing them out on the dancefloor at our residency. There was a a natural sort of conversation happening between the DJ booth and our studio that in the end made for what we deemed the ideal album for us.
Speaking of the amount of music on there, how easy was it to find time to get together (online or in the ‘real’ world) to produce everything?
We work at least four days a week together in our joint studio so everything was done live. We don’t think we could have done it online, as a big part of our process is jamming around, trying stuff and experimenting with the sound through various gear.
Having worked together for a while now, you must know each other pretty well both personally and as musicians… can you tell us each others’ strengths according to those two headings?
Our process is always collaborative, but in general our main strengths lie in Francis for the hooks, Anthony for the arrangements, both of us for our good looks.
Were there any difficulties in making the album? From a listener’s point of view it sounds as though it was quite a chilled project with not so much pressure exerted on yourselves… would that be correct?
I mean nothing was forced in the sense that we were trying to imitate a certain sound, we just did our thing in really the most relaxed way one can imagine, save for a few temper tantrums.
When you listen back to the album, which tracks really inspire you to get back in the studio to make more Frank & Tony tracks?
That’s a bit difficult to answer, as it’s sort of a DJ syndrome in a way. You are always thinking the new cut is the best one. It’s a bit of a running joke. In a way, we are inspired to write not from listening to our own music, but trolling on Discogs for special records then finding that perfect moment to drop it at our residency. The feeling when it all works is what we are ultimately going for, as it’s like a drug.
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Can you tell me a little bit about the collaboration with Sprinkles? How did it come about, was there a strong idea about what you wanted to get out of working together or was it the product of a jam session?
Terre became a friend of the label through her work on Minutes of Sleep. I (Francis) became friends with Terre during this period and we even did a bit of touring together last fall. We get along on a lot of levels, not just in music, and there is really no one I can think of who is as unique as Terre in the industry. This friendship lead to a further collaboration on this LP. Everything with Terre seems so easy and natural. I suppose this is because its based on mutual respect and friendship rather than some sort of overwrought attempt at collaboration.
Did you have any particular audience in mind when you were making the album?
The dancefloor at our residency and the vibe we get from our community in New York. We would be nothing without our community.
Now it’s all done and dusted and you have a chance to listen back to it, is there anything you might have changed about it at all?
We are both of the mind to always look forward. The album is true reflection of us at the time we made it and what we are making now is contemporaneous with who we are now. Everything else is a scoreboard for those who have time to keep track.
We’re fast approaching the end of the year, can you give me a brief overview of how 2014 has been for you both individually and as a duo…
Anthony : On the solo side I released a few EPs on our side label, Natural History… some analogue house jams and one vinyl-only EP. ‘Lie To Me’ on HAKT records, a local Brooklyn label run by Justin Miller, which has gained quite some support. However, the focus has definitely been Frank & Tony and will continue to be as we start doing our album tour.
Francis: My year began with releasing my solo album ‘Minutes of Sleep’ and will end with the release of our Frank & Tony LP. What more can a kid ask for?
Can you also fill me in on what you have planned for the next year or so? Anything concrete pencilled in?
We begin to support the album with a lot of touring and on the label side we have another EP from our new artist Desert Sound Colony, an album by Black Light Smoke and a new Francis Harris solo EP with guitarist Gabe Hedrick.
What do Frank & Tony do when they’re not making music?
We are two boys just looking for affection.
Finally, can you both give us your definition of deep house?…
Take whatever the genre means in Beatport and do the opposite.
Pick up the first part of Frank & Tony’s album via this link and check out the rest of the album below: