FRND: Spirit Animal

For our latest podcast feature, we sat down with Andrew Goldstein who goes by his artist name, FRND. Having worked with prominent musicians like Demi Lovato, Celine Dion, and Blackbear, FRND has built a strong songwriting foundation. In 2016, FRND began releasing music under his own moniker. He combines pop-punk elements with an electronic soundscape to blend contrasting genres into a unique style. Diving deeper into his sound, we pulled a few of FRND's quotes from the Auxoro Podcast and examined them further below:

   @angelokritikos

  @angelokritikos

“I built a foundation playing in bands which had a huge influence on me. I noticed the prominent structure, the intro, what the song’s about, the main theme of the chorus, and the repetitive nature.”

FRND has played and toured with multiple pop-punk bands, absorbing their song structure along the way. The emotional, melodic aspects of the 90’s era clung to his songwriting process. Over time, FRND incorporated electronic elements by learning to record on the computer.

He learned both Logic and Ableton. He built hundreds of new sounds into his repertoire. Synthesizers and electronic drums wove their way between the traditional guitar, bass, and kick drum.

As his instrumental palette thickened, FRND did not stray from his pop-punk edge. Music-making software opened a new world to experiment through that edge. His solo songwriting structure echoes the style he once played in bands.

FRND incorporates the three to four part song structure of the pop-punk genre within his electronic soundscapes. Repetition remains key. If a song strays too far from the initial foundation, the listener can lose focus. Repetition familiarizes the listener with the main concept, while expanding the structure signals new parts of the journey.

“Many times, as an artist, you sit down with a stranger in a songwriting session. It can be the first or second time you meet somebody.”

In an effective songwriting session, everyone must feel comfortable. Lyricists, producers, songwriters, and artists open the door to emotion around creatives they may not know. Tapping into that state of vulnerability takes trust and a lack of judgment. Walls disintegrate.

Often, FRND works with artists who have experiences that he has never encountered. In these sessions, he steps across the threshold of someone else’s story through empathy. A heightened, practiced emotional connectivity allows FRND to feel what someone else feels. He can’t completely grasp the gravity of a stranger’s experience, but he can begin to understand.

   FRND in the studio with Said the Sky, @frnd69

  FRND in the studio with Said the Sky, @frnd69

In the studio, breaking down barriers in the can require more time with strangers. When working with familiar artists, FRND can dive into a deeper layer of trust more quickly.

Relationships, struggles with family, loss of loved ones, and personal problems are best unleashed into song form when the artist is unguarded. Not every song taps into emotionally heavy content.

Sometimes, a song can be about the happiness from a cup of coffee or beams of sunlight bathing skin. In either mode, songwriting can feel like therapy. For FRND, the act of writing thoughts to paper or singing them into the mic releases some of the emotional buildup.

“When you’re writing by yourself, you can know exactly what you want to say but don’t know how to.”

When he isn’t in a collaborative songwriting session, FRND writes as a solo artist. Instead of traversing honesty with others, he must explore the most honest version of himself. Without someone else in a songwriting session, FRND cannot bounce ideas off of other artists. A rewarding part of co-writing is real-time feedback.

On his own, he can establish emotional concepts at a faster pace, but translating those concepts into melodies or lyrics can take more time.

     @frnd69

    @frnd69

If an idea doesn’t immediately present itself, FRND does not force the words. He takes breaks. He drives around listening to parts of the song on car speakers. He works out and hangs with friends; anything to relieve the laser focus of songwriting and restore creative flow. 

Molding the lyrics, FRND always asks himself: can I summarize the concept of a song in one sentence? If the message is convoluted, the listener may miss what the artist is trying to convey.

A great song leaves space for interpretation, but a tangled approach can cloud the foundation from which to interpret. With only four minutes to communicate an idea or a feeling, FRND harnesses a concise delivery.

“He [Blackbear] can take a small concept and give it a lot of depth. He can quickly flip these concepts into songs, something significant.”

FRND has written songs with established artists like Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Lauv, and Celine Dion. One artist that FRND feels a particularly strong connection with is Blackbear. In a songwriting session, Blackbear can breathe power into seemingly minor concepts. He finds ways to rhyme words that the normal ear would not think to pair. Blackbear and FRND both have songwriting backgrounds which strengthens their connection in the studio.

For the song ‘Anxiety,’ Blackbear came to FRND with a few chords. They messed around with tempo, hummed melodies, and soon stepped behind the mic. Blackbear excels at quickly breaking down abstract concepts into song form. He filters experience into lyrics faster than most.

Once the melody for ‘Anxiety’ solidified, FRND added a drop with synthesizers, then chopped vocals into that drop using a technique called vocal glitching.  FRND uses vocal glitching can reinvent the voice as an instrument. He can create a different dynamic with an existing vocal and expand the melody without new lyrics.

For the track ‘Do Re Mi’ by Blackbear, FRND and Blackbear co-produced the song. Trying to ignite ideas, FRND played around with 808’s on the keyboard while Blackbear read his own tweets aloud.

One tweet caught FRND’s ear: “Do Re Mi Fa So Fucking Done With You.” They ran with that concept, transforming a vocal warmup into a breakup anthem. FRND and Blackbear continue to channel a rare chemistry in the studio, and ‘Do Re Mi’ has since gone platinum.

“At times, I struggle to be outwardly emotional. I can feel uncomfortable with certain topics. I use the Koala as an entity to tell a story.”

FRND created the koala as an emotional embodiment of his art. He uses the koala in music videos, cover art, and his imagination. He personifies emotion through this animal. Sometimes, emotion can weigh down the creative process. FRND writes through the koala as a way to vent emotion from an outside perspective. Like FRND, the koala tackles relationships, happiness, and heartbreak. The emotional journey of the artist and koala intertwines.

    @frnd69

   @frnd69

For his latest single, ‘Before U I Didn’t Exist,’ FRND collaborated with director Dair Biroli to incorporate the koala into the music video. At the time of writing the song, FRND was in a relationship. He wanted to explore the bounds of the thought “What was I even doing before I met you?”

The time before a new relationship can almost feel like a past life. Biroli and FRND imagined a post-apocalyptic world in which the koala feels things that he didn’t know he was able to feel. A new love expands the koala’s emotional capability. Technology melts into sensation. In anime form, the koala exists in this universe as a capsule of the human experience.


Listen to the full podcast episode with FRND:

 

Listen to 'Before U I Didn't Exist' by FRND on Spotify:

Watch the music video for 'Before U I Didn't Exist' by FRND: