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Kat Frankie says she likes things “messy”: untidy, teeming, excessive, rich – and the luxuriant diversity of her music reflects that. No question, Kat Frankie writes the most artistic songs you’ll hear in local pop music: rhythmically complex, like the most sophisticated R & B, with divinely intricate vocal harmonies reminiscent of old-time doo-wop and folk. Yet – and this may be the best thing about it – none of it ever seems redundant or fabricated. Kat Frankie sings the most beautiful and readily accessible melodies one can wish for, and she sings them with a voice that is at once so clear and excitingly enigmatic, so impressively mature and at the same time enticingly brash, that after one verse they stick in your head.
Kat Frankie is from Sydney and has been singing since she was a little girl. Her first compositions were sung letters that she recorded on tape and sent to her grandmother. As a teenager she loved singing R & B songs: “Boyz II Men were huge role models of mine” she says. Her parents didn’t have the money to pay for music lessons, or to buy a guitar or piano for that matter. All she had were two tape decks, so she started practicing beat-boxing. “I would record a beat on one cassette, then play it and sing along with it while recording it on the second cassette”. She basically developed the musical technique that has stuck with her to this day. Her favorite piece of equipment is a loop station, which she uses to lay down a chorus to accompany herself or to play a one-woman guitar duet.
She came to the guitar late in life: “I was 17 the first time I played one” she notes. Even now she seems to have a somewhat distant relationship to the instrument, although it is responsible for jumpstarting her artistic career. While studying design she started playing in pubs. “I played guitar and sang songs, some angry, some sad – it was totally cliché”. But it was successful. In 2004 she quit her job and moved to Berlin. “I was a big fan of Chicks on Speed. In an interview they said Berlin was the best place in the world to make music, and I believed them”.
When Kat Frankie arrived in the German capital “antifolk” was the most popular music genre in the city. Singer-songwriter Kitty Solaris took her under her wing and released Kat’s debut album Pocketknife (2007) on her own label.