Riding the current wave of the Electro / Hip Hop / Euro / Crossover music category which is taking the world by storm, DJ Frank E finds himself in the EYE playing a major role with this new music trend. Crafting hits for Flo Rida, Chris Brown, B.O.B and many others, it wasn’t always peaches and cream for the producer wunderkind. Prior to his chart wielding success, Frank E cut his teeth as a DJ in the most unlikely places Ft. Collins / Denver, Colorado area, while also sharpening his music production skills. In this extensive interview with PMP, DJ Frank E tells his story, his struggles and achievements. Highlights below.
On making music his career choice:
I had no clue how music was made. It didn’t even occur to me that there was such a creative process behind every single one of those albums that I knew and loved. No one told me that, “one day, if you try really really hard, you could take all this drumming and music knowledge and turn it into a career.” I was a white kid from the burbs – that’s just not what we do. So…I continued NOT doing music until one night when I was at a party. I heard some kids playing music really loud and “freestyling” in the back. I walked in and saw the instrument that changed my life – the Korg Triton. That was the moment that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I asked if I could make a beat, they agreed, then proceeded to call it “some white boy s***, and laughed at me. Little did they know, I had my up my mind.
How DJing helped his career:
For me, DJing is a great way for me to follow trends, see what people are reacting to, and test new ideas. It’s the perfect type of research for a producer, depending on your crowd of course. I used to sneak in my own songs or remixes at the club to see how people would react. I learned so much from DJing that I never actually realized. DJs just have natural instincts that tend to make them good producers. It’s like they are walking encyclopedias of what works, what doesn’t, and why. Everyone should take a DJ class.
On working with Madonna:
Talk about stress. It felt like I was about to meet the President or something. I got to the session 2 hours beforehand to set up and give the files to the engineer, and I can’t remember a longer 2 hours of my life. It was like a countdown. Every 5 minutes I’d get an update on her status. I received updates up to the last 15 seconds, when she finally walked into the room. She said, “So YOU’RE the one?” and I politely answered, “No… YOU’RE the one.” We got along great after that, and finished the song (Madonna ft. Lil Wayne – ‘Revolver’) on my 2nd day with her.
I will never forget the feeling of leaving that session after vocal producing Madonna, and thinking to myself, “It can’t it really get any harder than this.” I’ve taken that mentality into every other session I’ve been in, and it’s helped me make the session and song more of a success. Unfortunately, the mix sounded like crap and the song flopped, but hey, you win some and you lose some.