'Frank’s exploring different vibes completely on this album,' says his trusted producer, Malay.
Frank Ocean promised to deliver an album and zine by 31 July 2015 (what would have been a full three years since the release of his full-length debut, Channel Orange, in July 2012). I'm not great at maths, but by my calculations it's now 273rd July, and still no new Frank. People are getting delirious -- tweeting at the singer incessantly, "leaking" material, The Fader even went through the source code comprising Ocean's website in search of clues -- finding only that a merch section had been added. Fortunately, Frank's collaborator, Grammy-winning producer Malay, has revealed some new, actual, information about the reclusive artist and his long overdue sophomore effort.
Malay, aka James Ho, spoke out about Frank after another of his efforts, Zayn Malik's Mind of Mine, had been released. Since wrapping the ex-One Directioner's debut solo album -- one that was recorded partly in a tent -- his focus is back on Frank's follow-up, which is a "decidedly more relaxed" effort, the producer told Pitchfork. "A lot of the stuff on this new album was done with a handheld mic sitting in the control room," he continued. "Frank's exploring different vibes completely on this album. I wouldn't say it's vocally looser but just his mentality; it doesn't seem as meticulous at certain times."
Frank might be exploring different vibes this time around, but many have drawn comparisons between the two debut records -- most specifically, Ocean's Bad Religion and Zayn's iT's YoU. "I honestly never thought about the similarities until Zayn performed it on Fallon," said Malay. "Some of his fans started tweeting me like, 'This reminds me of Bad Religion,' I was like, 'Oh shit! It kind of does!' It's kind of really similar with the organ." But ultimately, the producer contends Ocean's debut record inspired young hopefuls to seek out his guidance not to make duplicate sounds: "that record inspired kids to even more so want to have their own identity. They all want to be in that Frank Ocean position -- not necessarily sonically but in the way Frank created his own lane".
As to when Ocean's record will actually arrive? "I always tell people: When he's ready, the world is gonna get it. It could be tomorrow… well not tomorrow but maybe a month," said Malay. "We've all been working hard. He's been working super hard. I feel like he's working harder than he's ever worked in his life. I'm excited for everyone to hear it. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised, for sure."
Text Emily Manning
Photography Todd Cole
Photography assistance Alex Aristei
Frank wears top French Connection. Chain model's own.
[The Royalty Issue, No. 318, Spring 12]