frank ocean talks time travel and trusting your gut

The musician offers up some solid advice in the new issue of 'Gayletter.'

by Nicole DeMarco
16 April 2019, 10:07pm

Photo via Instagram.

i-D cover star and frequent collaborator Frank Ocean does few interviews, but since the notoriously private musician went public with his Instagram he’s followed suit with the press — trying to work more and more with publications he connects with. “I think the whole idea of me as a recluse is absurd ’cause I’m in the streets like all the time. I’m outside all the time, I’m traveling the world all the time,” he told Gayletter, whose tenth issue he covers. “It’s funny to me that that’s the perception, but I understand what people mean by it in this new paradigm.”

For the latest issue of the New York-based queer culture magazine, Frank was photographed by Collier Schorr, and he sat down with editor Tom Jackson to discuss the queer influences that shaped him and his favorite television shows (Chef’s Table and Handmaid’s Tale). Turns out Frank’s self-reflection also provides some solid advice and rules to live by. You can check out the full interview on Gayletter, but for now, here are some of our favorite meditations from Frank himself.

On social media:
“People have been the same for millions of years. I think the social media thing is kind of amped up. One could argue that people don’t actually get information more than half the time. They browse information. I don’t know if they really ingest it.”

On queer art:
“My interest in queer art began at home in New Orleans. Listening to Katey Red and Big Freedia at parties as a youth. It continued to grow as I got into photography, from the photographs I see a lot of in magazines, like Alasdair [McLellan] and Collier to the other heads like Wolfgang [Tillmans], Walter Pfeiffer and Peter [Hujar].”

On success:
“A lot of people I talk to about careers in the music industry, their ideas of success have to do with nostalgia. They have to do with tropes of success, things they’ve been shown over the years that represent what a successful career is. I think that helps you become prey, because somebody can manipulate you with those things. Then you may get to a point in your experience where you become disillusioned with those things.

On what he’d tell his younger self:
“I would never time-travel back and tell myself anything at all, because I would be scared to death of the ripple effect. Especially in those moments, it’s such a delicate time. But if there was a version of that super probable scenario... I think I would definitely tell myself to get a camera and shoot a lot more.”

On trusting your intuition:
“You don’t have anywhere near as much control as you think you have, right? At a lot of crossroads you don’t know which way is which. I think in so many instances, in my experience, intuition has been all I’ve had to go off of. And it’s got such a good success rate…

And on trusting other people:
“A lot of the people who told me I was crazy were completely well intentioned. They weren’t trying to sabotage me. It’s hard to see what somebody else sees sometimes. That’s all it boils down to. Sometimes the vision you have is only yours until you can really bring it into the world as a real thing, a real force; then people can see it and celebrate it and get onboard with it. I think that’s maybe just about trust, to give others the benefit of the doubt when they’re still in progress. Instead of hearing somebody’s idea and going, “Oh, that sounds stupid,” being like “OK, I trust you, so let me believe that maybe you see something I don’t see.” Because I know that along the path to bringing that thing into the world, you gotta go through your process. You gotta have your own discovery.”

Frank Ocean
queer art