Interview: Jeremiah Fraites on the Intimacy of Piano Music

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Amongst tour prep, common chaos, and the passing of vehicles, The Lumineers’ Jeremiah Fraites shares some notes of perception concerning all the fine details surrounding the discharge of his second solo album, ‘Piano Piano 2.’
Stream: ‘Piano Piano 2’ – Jeremiah Fraites

Through grief and hoards of outdated and new concepts, The Lumineers’ Jeremiah Fraites created Piano Piano 2, the follow-up album to Piano Piano 1.

Launched March 29, 2024 through Dualtone Music Group, the challenge is wholly piano and instrumental-based, which off the cuff, is a formidable feat contemplating the state of music in the present day, the place the simplistic fantastic thing about a piano is usually misplaced within the kerfuffle.

Right here, we start the interview, with Fraites and a beautiful sequence of voice notes and transcriptions as our methodology of communication as a result of sake of time. To begin, after a quick introduction with the sounds of vehicles driving by within the distance, Fraites begins, “I feel particularly these days 2024, we’re bombarded by noise and sound and static,” and jokes, “and vehicles driving by – however in all seriousness, I feel that we’re fairly actually bombarded by sound and noises always. All over the place you stroll, all over the place you drive, all over the place you go, journey, you’ll see somebody wanting down at their telephone or being engaged on the telephone or entertained by a telephone or distracted by a telephone or some kind of noise and it’s just about 24/7, 365.”

Thus far, he continues to develop the concept piano music affords an escape of types. It’s a method to calm down the noise and act as a “useful calming distraction from all that noise and static and fixed bombardment.”

“I feel that yeah, piano music and instrumental music I feel can truly assist heart folks and assist focus you and assist shift you and steer your approach into a greater place.”

Piano Piano 2 - Jeremiah Fraites
Piano Piano 2 – Jeremiah Fraites

As regards to what music can do, Fraites briefly mentions the centering impact and goal, if you’ll, that music performs in our world.

“I feel music and artwork, normally, can try this, however I feel there’s actually one thing fairly soothing about piano and I hope that this album Piano Piano 2 can serve that goal for some folks on the market listening to it.”

As for a way this new launch differs from its predecessor, Fraites signifies that it was all a matter of mindset and intention with mindset. With 2021’s Piano Piano, he had a transparent imaginative and prescient of one thing minimalistic, one thing that felt as if, “anyone was sitting subsequent to me on the piano bench listening to the album and kind of having this uncooked, intimate, simplistic, minimalistic, kind of manufacturing and songwriting.” It’s a deeply correct description of that album. The image is painted completely. Nonetheless, on this challenge, Fraites says, “I form of threw all that out the window and thought- I simply wish to make one thing that… I wish to make it as a kind of egocentric endeavor.”



With this in thoughts, he remembers one thing intriguing. “One of many nice producers of our time, Rick Rubin, he mentioned many nice issues and smart, insightful, profound issues, however one of many issues he mentioned that not too long ago got here to my consideration was that, while you’re making artwork, while you’re making music, the viewers ought to come final. And what he means by that’s sarcastically, if you wish to serve the viewers finest, you must consider them final, as a result of for those who exit of your method to make one thing that you simply assume your viewers will like, you sarcastically truly stray away from possibly serving them.”

From this concept, Fraites goes into how precisely this mindset impacted the making of Piano Piano 2, explaining, “Should you can go deeply private, you truly discover the extra common the work turns into.”

“I simply wish to make what I wish to make,” he provides. With that, the journey into the precise creation of the album continues.

Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb
Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb

Fraites describes his artistic course of as “a easy one,” illustrating a scene through which he’s nose to nose with an instrument, “deliberately or not” and simply begins taking part in. From there, after he has collected any variety of recordings he begins the method of creating an album, which sounds much like the method of panning for gold. Fraites depicts himself as in search of something that pops out to him, one thing “distinguishable or distinctive.”

At this level, he takes the gems and begins the a part of the method the place he tries to work on concepts. All of it sounds much like one thing Michelangelo mentioned concerning his sculpting course of, through which Michelangelo mentioned, “I noticed the angel within the marble, and carved till I set him free.” As for Fraites’ response so far as his music creation course of, he states, “I’ll attempt to manipulate it, I’ll attempt to carve it, make it you already know, I’ll attempt to make it larger.” Along with this, he caveats his free will as a musician with an emphasis on the significance of following what concepts point out they wish to do.

“I don’t assume a lot of myself as ‘oh, I’m the artist, I’m creating this, I created this and I have to make it higher.’ I feel that with virtually each good or nice concept I’ve ever written, it’s extra like I really feel like I captured it and located it. It’s extra akin to, you already know trying to find diamonds or gold in the midst of nowhere and fewer about, you already know, establishing one thing.”

Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb
Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb

Humbly Fraites boils his half within the course of all the way down to being an virtually coach of concepts as he says, “I really feel like the most effective concepts, you kind of harness them. You’re an antenna for them. After which as soon as you’re engaged on them or manipulating them or enhancing them, you’re simply making an attempt to determine what does this tune want?” Whereas he elaborates on this concept of honing into songs, he admits that generally concepts that appear cool, don’t find yourself going wherever, however on the flip aspect, some concepts supply themselves as much as a number of aspects of edits and manipulation.

One tune of be aware right here as talked about by Fraites is “Spirals,” a lovely tune that has this cascading high quality to it relating to the construction of the piece itself, Fraites describes the tune as having been a really forgiving concept as a result of it simply “stored accepting and accepting and accepting.” Whereas different songs would reject lots of totally different various parts.

“That was a part of the method of making an attempt stuff and seeing the place it went.”

Finalizing commentary on the entire generalized means of all of it, Fraites divulges that there surprisingly isn’t a lot distinction between working along with his band, The Lumineers, and dealing solo. He notes that when he’s engaged on a solo challenge, “it’s kind of just like the individual I’m working with is the concept itself.” Persevering with to comply with this prepare of thought, he muses about it being a bit like working with “two Jeremiahs” – the current and the previous variations of himself, which may generally be two very totally different folks with totally different views, in a approach that just about mimics working with an precise separate particular person equivalent to Wes Schultz, lead singer of The Lumineers.

No matter how many individuals he’s working with or not, all of it comes all the way down to the music and whether or not or not the concepts are good. Concluding this phase concerning the means of creation as concepts are turned into songs, Fraites says, “I feel they’ve a persona, it’s simply determining what they need. It’s virtually like dressing them up. Do they wish to put on a jacket? Do they wish to put on a gown? Do they wish to put on a high hat? Do they wish to put on a washing go well with?! I feel it’s discovering the best costume.”

As for the music itself, we start with “Spirals,” a tune that actually strikes a chord and resonates on a stage that grounds listeners and supplies an indescribable feeling of hope and child-like ecstasy. Fraites shares intimately, “It may be my favourite factor I’ve ever created for my solo stuff.”

In talking about “Spirals,” Fraites discusses how he kind of intuitively knew with this little voice in his head saying, “This tune must be wild and kind of spiral uncontrolled” to which he provides “I kind of you already know, imaginative and prescient, noticed the top of the songs clear as day earlier than it truly was completed, and I noticed the kind of chaotic issues taking place earlier than I even began to work on it. I simply knew the place the tune wished to go, I had this sense.”

He additionally shares perception into how he inserted and layered numerous samples that he had both recorded or made. These samples of audio present an extremely private ingredient to the tune that makes it that rather more impactful and significant, whilst a indifferent listener to the piece. That being mentioned, a number of the samples embrace Fraites remarks, “A pattern of me and my spouse Francesca laughing on a telephone name collectively,” and “our son and daughter taking part in with one another.”

Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb
Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb

Alongside these, and maybe most susceptible, Fraites tells us that “there’s a significantly particular pattern of my brother, my older brother Josh- he handed away a few years in the past when he was nineteen and I used to be fourteen, and I discovered this outdated VHS tape of him taking part in along with his good friend and there’s a clip of him saying this phrase ‘battle beasts’ which had been there outdated actions figures from the 80s, in order that’s kind of haunting you already know, near house, very private issues that I recorded from a VHS tape from I feel 1989 when he was in all probability six or seven years outdated.”

As for why Fraites selected to layer such emotional parts into this tune, in addition to others within the observe itemizing, he says, “I’ve all the time beloved spoken phrase. I’ve all the time beloved, like, folks speaking samples over music. I feel that all the time actually is a extremely cool aesthetic.”

“I feel that is my most proud accomplished work to this point, I’m actually into that tune [“Spirals”] and I really like these touches of the non-public, you already know contact in there that they’re not simply random samples, however very near my coronary heart.”

Transferring to the observe “Spiders,” we be taught that the observe was, in actuality, an outdated concept that was initially thought of as a possible observe for Piano Piano 1, however simply didn’t fairly match or make the lower, “I actually love that observe, it’s an outdated observe and contemplating how outdated it’s, I imply that’s, that may be one of many first piano issues I ever wrote you already know again after I was like eighteen or nineteen, we’re speaking twenty years in the past at this level.”

It as soon as once more incorporates a pattern of Fraites’s youngsters, including in that addictive little sentimental, private contact. And leaping again to the concept of it being an outdated tune, Fraites says encouragingly, “Phrase to all of the younger and upcoming artists, report all the pieces. Save all the pieces. You may thank me later.” In spite of everything, a number of the finest songs simply want just a little time to marinate and stew earlier than they’re able to be given the highlight.

When requested concerning the standout tune “Rio,” Fraites dives straight into an accompanying story about how the title and tune got here to be.

“I bear in mind I used to be on tour with The Lumineers. I used to be in a resort room in Aspen, Colorado and I had completed the tune. I had executed a demo of Rio it was known as one thing totally different on the time, I neglect what it was known as, however undoubtedly wasn’t known as Rio- I feel it was known as like ‘Falling In Love Once more” or one thing I neglect. I had this demo made on a faux kind of like synthesizer, it was a piano that appeared like an actual piano however on the finish of the day, it was a faux piano. However I did this specific soak up Aspen, Colorado whereas on tour with the band and I fell in love with it and I believed you already know what there’s no approach I’m ever going to beat this take it’s simply, it’s bought all of the ghosts and it’s bought this magic about it so I’m simply going to you already know that’s the, that’s what’s going to go on the report. I’m going to simply depart this faux piano, sounds adequate to me and I simply knew that I wasn’t going to beat the take. I do know it’s very sacrilegious to report faux piano on a piano observe on a piano-heavy album, however I believed I’m not gonna beat the take and I’d slightly take, you already know, an amazing take with a questionable recording than an amazing recording of a shitty take for lack of a greater phrase. So I believed I’m not going to beat this, that’s that.”

Fraites continues the story with a breath, saying “Quick ahead a couple of months later, I used to be in South America and touring with the band once more and I used to be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And I used to be listening to the tune and you already know it was just about time to complete the report it was just like the eleventh hour and my spouse Francesca, who’s truly credited as the manager producer on this album Piano Piano 2– to her credit score and it’s not simply because she’s my spouse it’s as a result of she has an excellent thoughts and he or she’s wonderful and so nice to work with and he or she helps me out with a lot stuff with my solo profession. So she’s duly credited as the manager producer of Piano Piano 2” to which he provides the be aware, “She did the identical issues on Piano Piano 1 it’s simply uncredited however you already know it’s about time to credit score the place credit score is due.”

Getting again to the story, Fraites says, “She mentioned pay attention go right into a studio in Rio, rerecord the tune, I do know you possibly can beat it. I used to be in a really dangerous temper, I used to be drained, I used to be exhausted and I used to be very cussed and I mentioned ‘Pay attention I’m not going to beat it I don’t wish to go right into a studio it’s my time off I’m beat, blah blah blah.’ She was cussed and he or she knew, so she mentioned ‘Simply strive it, if it sucks it sucks, no matter.’ So I mentioned ‘Alright, I’ll strive it,’ kind of begrudgingly, and I went right into a studio in Rio- which was like this tremendous random, I don’t know something about studios in Brazil not to mention Rio. My crew, who’re wonderful, discovered this studio in Rio with like a $200,000 piano on this wonderful studio. I went in there, by far the nicest piano I’ve ever performed in my complete life. I did like two or three takes and I used to be like, we bought it. I went in with the engineer who spoke English, fortunately. He was an incredible man, tremendous sensible and proficient and we pieced collectively, I feel, not more than two takes and that was the tune.”

And from there, “Rio” was born, and aptly named as a result of “Rio” is certainly a cool identify for a tune, and with such a narrative behind it, it solely is smart.

Entering into the following tune of specific be aware and see, “Additional Lives,” we start not with the tune however slightly with a dialog on what classical-based music has to supply relating to an expression of emotion. With this thought, Fraites reveals that he too is perplexed about what precisely it’s about instrumental music that strikes otherwise. He remembers soundtracks, like that of American Magnificence and Everlasting Sunshine of the Spotless Thoughts, and says with regard to their soundtracks, “They do one thing to me that different types of music would by no means be capable of even scratch the floor on, and I don’t know what that’s.” He shares his private take that instrumental music, as effectively, as different sounds and frequencies give approach for listeners to “ selfishly make up your personal story.”

Whereas all music is comparatively open to non-public interpretation, there’s something peculiar and specific about instrumental items that urges them to be much more open to with the ability to relate to any occasion or reminiscence in any particular person’s life.

“There’s no lyrics or phrases to distract you in the identical sense that there’s much less info, there’s much less dictation, there’s much less directions of what to take heed to, so you possibly can take heed to a easy chord development and simply begin getting teary-eyed or get goosebumps fascinated about your childhood or random reminiscence you had while you had been six-years-old or the lack of a beloved one.”

As indicated beforehand, this all relates vulnerably to the observe “Additional Lives,” which is lovingly devoted to Fraites’s late father. Starting our speak concerning the intricacies and goal of this tune, Fraites shares that the title is a reference to the entire concept of getting an additional life in a online game.

Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb
Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb

From right here, Fraites opens up about how the current lack of his father had a big affect on him; he displays fondly on recollections of his father and all that he did for his household over time, the place he would, in a approach, bestow upon them these ‘further lives.’

Fraites says, “He went to work daily, working in a warehouse, and by no means complained and did it Monday by way of Friday for a lot of, a few years and form of gave the last word present as a father, as a supplier in order that I may have a greater life.” With lingering grief intertwined in his phrases, Fraites expresses gratitude for all that his father was in a position to expertise with him earlier than he handed, together with assembly his youngsters and spouse and having been in a position to have him take heed to each of his solo albums.

For the sake of respecting his father, and in addition to go away it open for particular person perspective, Fraites says, “I feel that the tune actually captures it in a approach that you already know, the much less I say about it, possibly it’s even higher.” This proves to be true, because the tune genuinely speaks for itself, and tells a lovely story of affection, respect, and the waves of grief.

“It’s devoted to my dad, the tune “Additional Lives,” and I’m actually pleased with it. And I do know he was pleased with it too.”

In a change, we transfer to the previous few songs on the album “Snow Falling” and “Pluck.”

Concerning “Snow Falling,” Fraites, relays how he wrote the tune whereas at his grand piano in Denver round seven or eight years in the past, and he had give you this repetition of two chords on the left hand that simply repeat all through the tune, and it “simply jogged my memory of just like the opening credit to a film.” Regarding this, he additionally shares, “I feel I had known as it for a few years, like intro to a film or opening credit.” Simply listening to the tune, it’s fully comprehensible why it sounds so cinematic- every swell and ingredient added takes you on an audible voyage. And Fraites says it finest when he says, “ The start actually simply jogged my memory of snow falling right into a parking zone. You understand, like there’s mild but it surely’s darkish out and there’s snow falling on possibly the woods or forest or like a random parking zone and simply this calm barren factor, after which one thing occurs.”

Whereas discussing this tune, Fraites jumps again to the concept we talked about prior within the interview of what separates Piano Piano 2 from Piano Piano 1, to which he provides, “This was a giant shock, one thing simply actually turned the nook and I don’t assume I did that basically on the primary report, which is ok, however this was a giant change I feel and I used to be actually into that concept. I appreciated the concept the listener would form of go like, ‘Oh,’ you already know, ‘what’s that?’”

As for notes on “Pluck,” Fraites shares candidly, “I had reached out to this app known as Calm and I actually tried to put in writing one thing actually soothing, and quietly actually… calm, and one thing that I wouldn’t usually write.” He continues describing the tune as being one thing, “calm and like minimalistic” whereas additionally being “hyper spacious and spatial” and total carrying an “esoteric and ambient” high quality to it.

Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb
Jeremiah Fraites © Rachel Deeb

And naturally, we at the moment are dropped at the topic of Radiohead, Fraites’ favourite band – regardless of his highschool self’s preliminary ideas – and the quilt of “No Surprises,” which options the vocals of the ever-talented, Gregory Alan Isakov.

Whether or not or not it’s Thom Yorke’s voice or odd piano taking part in, the bizarre progressions, or any of the instrumentation on the a part of the Greenwoods, and so forth., Jeremiah Fraites shares that he has all the time been impressed by how the band “broke the principles” and had each album work in a approach that shifted the paradigm of music and nice albums.

As for the inclusion of Isakov on the observe, Fraites speaks to how they’ve labored collectively previously performing reveals with each other, together with Fraites opening for Isakov at Crimson Rocks in Colorado, and on this report, his voice simply melded splendidly with the tune and orchestral association, and simply “knocked this tune out of the park.”

Concluding our chat, Fraites states with an audible sense of pleasure and slight anxiousness, “I’m actually excited to see folks’s response to listening to it for the primary time.”

Piano Piano 2 is, to place it merely, a charming assortment of music that calls to the inner turmoil, bliss, and rapture all of us really feel. From moments of grief and love or of chaos and serenity, there’s a tune completely curated and “found out” to soundtrack any given expertise. Together with, the falling of snow.

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