I’m turning 30 this year, and I’m looking for positive role models wherever I can. Do I have to start talking about insurance and mutual funds and Roth IRAs, or is there a way to grow up while holding my cool? For some advice, I turned to the 33-year-old Frankie Rose, who just released the outstanding Interstellar (Slumberland).
Rose cut her teeth in New York’s late-’00s DiY scene, founding the Vivian Girls (named after her mother), then playing with Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls before putting out work under her own name. The work was largely of a piece: loud, guitar-heavy, light on dynamics, and uniformly uncontemplative. It was kids stuff, which I hope I can say without sounding like too much of a jerk.
“When I was done with [2010’s Frankie Rose And The Outs], Rose told Sound of the City, “I was really done with it. I was like, ‘I do not want to make another record like this. I would like to make something bigger and cleaner and more cinematic.'” She succeeded. Interstellar is lush and unhurried, with sounds that swoop down to collect the listener from the everyday in a cloud of layered vocals and spirit her away to somewhere where existential questions ring like cymbal strikes. It’s, well, pretty grown up.
In addition to making great records, Frankie Rose has some advice about moving gracefully into your 30s. We’ve collected a few of them below.
Frankie Rose, “Night Swim”
1. Work with what you got.
A big part of being an adult is living in reality (at least to a certain extent), says Rose. “My 30s is when I finally felt comfortable in my own skin,” she explains. “I was like, ‘Oh, well, not much is going to change. This is who I am.’ You sort of come to the realization that this is what you’re stuck with, for better or for worse. You’d better make the best of it. I think… I did. I think I did.”
2. Know yourself.
“I’m not a musician,” Rose demurs at one point. “I like to make records, but that definitely doesn’t make me a musician.” What she is, though, is someone who likes to perform and record. So she focuses on that as much as possible. “I really agree with Kate Bush—she never plays live because if she plays live she wants it to be excellent. It’s like a really weird, self-critical, annoying thing. If I’m gonna do it, I would really like it to be good.”
3. Listen to Jewel; take life lessons from Jewel.
Rose been talking about how after finishing her first solo effort, she wanted to branch out musically, to explore sounds “bigger and cleaner and more cinematic,” but didn’t know how to get there. “I never actually know what I’m doing, ever,” she says. “For whatever reason, it seems to work out. This sounds corny, but as long as I follow my heart, my intuition.” When I point out to her that this is the chorus of Jewel’s 2003 hit “Intuition,” she laughs and calls Jewel her “biggest influence”—after at first admitting she doesn’t know what I’m talking about. An accidental quote still counts; it’s an essential part of maturing.
4. Do the grown-up stuff you have to, but don’t dwell on it too much.
Rose is a CEO; for tax and/or legal reasons that she declined to discuss, the band “Frankie Rose” is actually a corporation called “Frankie Rose,” headed by a person, also coincidentally named “Frankie Rose.” While Rose does call herself “the 1%” at one point, she’s referring to those people lucky enough to support themselves by making music. The corporate thing, well, she did it, but she tries not to think about it that way. “It’s not anything crazy,” she assures me. “I’m like the sole… you know. Ambassador? CEO? Ambassador is a much better word.”
5. Don’t grow up too much.
Like we said at the top, “growing up” doesn’t mean “turning into a completely zombified version of yourself.” Rose doesn’t have stereotypical grown-up attitudes about stereotypical grown-up stuff, as she showed during a lightning round of Adult Word Association:
“Only in Mexico.”
And, finally, the one I’m particularly afraid of:
“Dude, I don’t even know what that is.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 4, 2012