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I stumbled upon FRTNK [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][pronounced “FourteenK”] in the Voodoo Lounge at the House of Blues on Sunset. Their eclectic style (not to mention bare feet) caught my eye, and I was intrigued when the eight men took their places on stage. They were absolutely mesmerizing once the beats began flowing. Floating harmonies, beautifully on pitch with their vocals and instruments; I was hooked. It wasn’t a common venue space for them to play in with a small stage in the corner next to a blues bar, and the show itself was performed almost exclusively acoustic. In fact it was a happy coincidence that we ran into each other at all, and they encouraged me to attend their next concert at Seven Points in Downtown Los Angeles, a venue more typical for them so that I could truly understand their energy and sound.
I took their advice and there I stood, surrounded by fashionistas and men with beards wearing ironic t-shirts. I found myself speechless at the complex music resounding from the makeshift stage. Truly with a little more space FRTNK rocked the house. With so many exuberant members in FRTNK it is impossible not to be caught up in their positive energetic performances.
At the front stood the original members – Benni Aragbaye, B.J. and Bryan Ramos. They met in “The Gates,” which is their nickname for the cookie cutter gated community they grew up in. Boredom motivated them towards artistic expression and creating the grooving harmonies that is truly FRTNK. These three began developing their sound as early as 2009 and make up the core vocalists of FRNTK. The tenor-alto harmonization is stunning, and the in sync raps layered on top ties their sound together.
The rest of the band didn’t join until later in their career and the addition of the five musicians elevate FRTNK’s sound with style. Sir Izik was the first band member added as he joined three years ago. He plays bass, adding a consistent and creative backbeat, and with his relaxed island vibe it’s hard not to move with the beat. The other band members joined just one year ago, although they are so in step with each other it seems as if the entire group has been playing with each other for years. Along with Bryan there’s Raven Michael on guitar, both adding melodic tune (reminding me of beach rock) to each song. Not only are there two guitar players there are two keyboardists, Josh O’Connell and Caleb Ivey. These two create a sound just as synchronized as the vocals, they are also responsible for both the electronic and blues elements added into FRTNK’s sound. Finally there’s Josh “Quick” Ivey (yes, he’s Caleb’s brother) on the drums. Quick brings the concluding tone to the music, an ever changing jazz style drum beat. Normally I would attempt to name their genre but according to them it’s “undetectable” so I’ll leave it at that. Plus, with all these elements added together they are on the way to becoming one of the most unique and amazing group of sounds I’ve heard from an up and coming band.
Quirkily they divide their audience into “robots” (a.k.a. the people that just stand nodding their heads with their feet planted) and “aliens” (those who dance as hard as the performers) and interact with each group throughout the entire show. Working hard everyday on their sound, to them “music is a lifestyle” and that dedication shines through in their tight performance and deep sound. They produce their music in a homemade studio, which is simultaneously cheap and brings a “down to earth” element to their music.
As I stood on the wooden floorboards at Seven Points I was enchanted by FRTNK, a group that believes in the avoidance of perfection, represented by their slogan “live life impure.” To them the name FRTNK doesn’t just reference gold, it tells a story of a group of men bonded as tightly as brothers (some quite literally) who refuse to conform to the norms of society.
As said by B.J., “This is a time when impressive, magnificent things are occurring” and with the lyrical and musical depth presented by FRTNK I believe they are one of those magnificent things. The men of FRTNK are weird, loud, a little crazy and absolutely brilliant. They have a bright future to look forward to as more people are as lucky as I am and stumble upon one of their shows. Bringing a unique perspective and sound to the music industry, I am eager to follow FRTNK’s path and implore you to do the same. And you don’t have to wait long, if you don’t have plans for New Years Eve these wild dudes are hosting an all ages show at 9onVine in Downtown Los Angeles that should definitely make it on to your party-hopping list.
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