Introducing Interview: Frankie Morrow

Having released their debut EP, Blue Parrot Backpackers Hotel, in October, Scottish alt-rock band Frankie Morrow finally formed their current fully-fledged outfit last year after initially playing together and separately in various musical projects across Scotland since their teens. Since January, musicians Frankie Morrow, James Smith, Duncan Carswell, Samuel Nicholson and Neev have been playing and recording together, and have received airplay from the likes of BBC Radio 1 and Amazing Radio.

We’re big fans of Frankie Morrow’s glistening, folk-strewn sounds and heartfelt lyricism, and can’t wait to hear more from them in 2023. We had a lovely chat to find out more about the EP, what inspires them, being a woman in music and more… Have a read, and make sure you listen to the beautiful EP now!

Hi Frankie. Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello GIHE! It’s so cool to be speaking to you, we are huge fans – we loved your night down at the Victoria in October where Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something headlined. Frankie Morrow are a Scottish, female-led 5-piece who play alt-rock for the soul. 

Are you able to tell us a bit about how and why you initially started creating music?
Well, myself and James were actually in a band together back in our hometown of Paisley when we were 14 years old! To be honest I think most of our friends came to the shows as a place to drink cider underage hahaha, but we had a rare time.  

We love your luscious, soaring folk-strewn sounds , but who would you say are your main musical influences?
We as a band have a hugely diverse range of musical influences, though I’d say some of my personal influences would be classic Americana/rock like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bob Dylan, Scottish writers such as Rab Noakes, and more contemporary bands like Big Thief and Katy J Pearson.

You recently released your debut EP, Blue Parrot Backpackers Hotel,  which is very exciting! Are you able to tell us a bit about what inspired it and the themes running throughout it?
Well, it all started where most records start – with a break up! These songs are a collection of my musings over the years; before the band got together I used to perform as a solo artist, and so I guess the impetus was really just me coming to terms with lots of the changes and upheaval that had happened in my life at the time. Blue Parrot Backpackers Hostel is my ‘Sliding Doors’ moment. Have you seen that film? The whole premise is based around Helen – who’s played by Gwyneth Paltrow – and how her life could dramatically change based on whether she catches a train or not. It got me thinking about how these tiny decisions we make in our everyday lives can have such huge impacts on us later down the line, and I found that a really interesting concept for the record.

You recently played live at the Sebright Arms – how was that? And, for those who missed it, what can fans expect from your live show?
We had an absolute blast! We were still buzzing from it the next day. Our live show and our current musical direction is actually a lot more raucous than what we have on record so far. We absolutely love playing for people – it’s our favourite thing to do, we want people to feel moved and for them to forget their worries at our shows.

The EP was produced and arranged by you, with an all-female engineer team, which is very awesome! What was the recording process like, and how did you all work together? 
It was amazing! I deliberately wanted to recruit an all-female engineering team from the get go for this debut. We recorded most of the EP between my flat and kind friends’ houses. then I sent the stems to Taylor Pollock (Platoon) to mix. Taylor was an absolute dream to work with; it was such a collaborative process from start to finish, and I’ve never met someone so dedicated to a project. Izzy McPhee was absolutely brilliant as well, and I even got to go and meet her at her studio in Bristol. It was really powerful to be part of that team.

And is there a particular live show you’ve played that stands out as a highlight?
To be honest our headline at the Sebright is probably the standout so far as it’s such an iconic venue and we’ve seen so many bands we love play there over the years. It was a real honour to headline.

How do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? And do you feel much has changed over the last few years in its treatment of female and queer/LGBTQ+  artists? 
In some ways the industry is far more accessible than before in terms of opportunities for editorial playlisting which breaks down global barriers, and of course through social media. Though, on the flipside, labels are taking less chances on bands and there’s not much money in streaming at an emerging level. However, I do feel quite positive about it overall; I think if you focus on the making of good music supported by other marketing tools, and just try not to get to bogged down in the numbers… In terms of treatment of female and queer artists, I think things definitely have moved on, though I have unfortunately had quite a few people presume men have produced the EP or that it wasn’t me playing guitar etc – this is still something that happens regularly. A personal highlight from a recent gig: “Wow, you can actually play the guitar?!” …  If you don’t laugh, you will cry!

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists you’re loving right now that you’d recommend we check out?
Oh absolutely! Lizzie Reid had a gorgeous EP out this year. We saw her with full band down at Paperdress Vintage towards the end of last year. Oh, and I was just introduced to NewDad who are brilliant.

Finally, what does 2023 have in store for Frankie Morrow? 

We are so excited to get back into the studio this month. The new tracks are big alt-rock bangers and we are chomping at the bit to get started.

Massive thanks to Frankie for answering our questions! Listen to Blue Parrot Backpacker’s Hostel now, and watch the charming video for single ‘Sunflowers’ below:

Track Of The Day: Midnight Ambulance – ‘Smoke and Sweets’

In 2020, old friends reconnected after years apart and formed Midnight Ambulance, and boy are we glad they did! This perfect partnership has crafted an eclectic and dark sound which has gone on to see the Edinburgh based duo shortlisted for BBC Introducing Scottish Act of the Year 2022 and as support for Texas at Fringe By The Sea this August

Latest single ‘Smoke and Sweets‘ is a captivating offering, reflecting on feelings of isolation and someone’s reality slipping away; written through the Covid-19 lockdown, where isolation was experienced by many. The subject matter is clearly reflected through the powerful soundscape the duo have created, cleverly blending an exquisite folk-inspired musicality with electronic sounds and fuzzy in-your-face guitar, building to an immense frenzied climax. This eclectic fusion of sounds really gives them an interesting edge where you don’t know what to expect. 

Opening with an electronic drone and reverb-washed yet detailed vocals, Midnight Ambulance set an atmospheric scene with a stunning traditional folk melody sung with haunting close harmonies. A distorted drum enters, panned hard to one side, demonstrating interesting production decisions. For fellow audiophiles, this track must be listened to with quality headphones or a good sound system to truly experience the beautiful intricacies of what’s going on.

At one and a half minutes in, you are hit with a delicious drop – introducing heavier and more distorted territories. The vocals become faster, more urgent and desperate – “I don’t know how to let it go”. There’s feedback on the guitar, breathy vocal chops, vocal vocoders and smashing cymbals, poignantly mirroring the protagonist’s loss of reality. 

‘Smoke and Sweets’ was recorded at North Road Studios, which uses vintage equipment – giving the song a unique gritty warmth. 

Watch the stirring live video for ‘Smoke and Sweets’ here:

Ella Patenall
@ellapatenall

Photo Credit: Gareth Goodlad