Behind the Beat: Shaun Frank
Shaun Frank, the hit producer and DJ from Toronto, Canada sat down with us before his show at Soundcheck in Washington, D.C. Frank’s popularity has risen recently because of hits like Heaven with KSHMR and Shades of Grey with Oliver Heldens. Frank is also one of a handful of DJs that uses live vocalists during sets and has a unique style influenced by his earlier participation as a musician in a band.
OTB: You are in the midst of the New Order Tour going to a bunch of cities in North America. What can you tell us about this tour?
Shaun Frank: The New Order Tour started as one show in L.A. with SNBRN and Dr. Fresch and we started this because we all wanted to play together. We played in a lot of the same cities and did random B2B sets. SNBRN and I did a B2B set in Toronto that went for 6 hours, which was an epic moment in both of our careers because a lot of people were talking about it. We all said that we were overdue for a big L.A. play and we played at Exchange LA as our first show in The New Order Tour that was sold out, which we didn’t expect. The concept of the New Order is that we all have been making House Music for a long time, but we want to usher in a new chapter of dance music that is fresh. In the 80’s when Joy Division brought in the New Order, they brought in a new chapter of dance music and we are trying to pay homage to them.
Only The Beat: So you entered the dance music scene in 2012 and have had quick success. Most people know about Shades of Grey and that milestone in your career. What are you personally most proud of in your career so far?
Shaun Frank: I am proud of the fact that I have been able to write songs that have been recognized by the dance community not just regular dance records. I have been able to write songs with a piano and have a verse and a chorus and a hook that can transcend a genre. I am proud that I have been able to make those songs work in dance music and be recognized by the major leaders in the dance music community. That was my goal to bring songwriting to dance music.
Oliver Heldens & Shaun Frank Ft. Delaney Jane – Shades of Grey
OTB: A lot of your sets are unique in that you feature live vocals, adding in another element to the experience. I saw that you were recently on tour with Delaney Jane in India and have done a few tracks with her including Shades of Grey. Do you think that this is going to become the norm in dance music with live vocals during DJ sets?
Shaun Frank: It’s definitely going to become the norm with me when I can. Having Delaney Jane on tour with me and having her perform live brings a whole new flavor to the show. When she comes on it becomes a live concert and I come from playing in bands so my goal is to have a full live show. I toured with Duke Dumont three months ago with his live show, and I loved it because it was reminiscent of my band days.
OTB: So I asked Dzeko and Torres this same question. What is the state of electronic music and club culture in Toronto?
Shaun Frank: Toronto has one of the best scenes and I think it is because we have so many great artists that come from Toronto. For example, there is a new artist Rezz who makes dark, techno music and a good friend of mine. It seems like every year there is another really popular artist springing up in electronic music that is from Toronto. Toronto has traditionally had some of the best venues. There was a venue called the Guvernment that ran for 25 years and everyone has played there. Armin Van Buuren and Steve Angello and other major artists have said that it was their favorite venue, which created a culture for Toronto and some of the best shows ever happened at Guvernment.
OTB: If I am like Anthony Bourdain and have a layover in Toronto where do I go? What club should I go to?
Shaun Frank: You got to go to somewhere like Snack Bar for dinner or maybe Terroni. You gotta hit Bar Fresh for cocktails and definitely the Hoxton for music and that is my favorite venue in Toronto. Friday and Saturday nights at the Hoxton are really awesome.
OTB: In your style of the mix between Electro and Progressive House who would you say are the rising stars that we should look out for?
Shaun Frank: Hunter Siegel who is also from Toronto is doing really cool stuff that is a hard Electro version of House Music. I always use of couple of his songs in my sets. Like I said, Rezz is also someone to watch out for this year.
OTB: When you are not producing music or touring what do you like to do?
Shaun Frank: Music is all I do. I have like 40 shows coming up and it is non-stop. I have enjoyed my time off in L.A. doing some songwriting even for other artists and hitting the beach, relaxing. Anywhere that is sunny, is where I like to spend my time off.
OTB: Who are your favorite producers right now and hope to collaborate with in the future?
Shaun Frank: I love Galantis and their new album. I have always been a Mat Zo fan. The new Delaney Jane solo project is going to be really great; I have been helping out with some producing for this project. I’ve also been working with The Chainsmokers on some music, and those guys have SO much awesome stuff in the pipeline.
OTB: What else can we expect from you this year? Any new projects?
Shaun Frank: I have a collaboration with DVBBS coming up called ”Lala Land” that we are going to be premiering at Ultra this year. I am also working on a couple tracks with The Chainsmokers, Steve Aoki collab and a lot of my own music. I might do a new EP or even a new album because I have a lot of music coming up.
OTB: Anything coming up with Oliver Heldens?
Shaun Frank: We have talked about it. We are both busy touring, but we hope to hangout in Miami coming up, but I am not really sure.