article written and interview conducted by Landon Fleury
Imagine being a household cook, making a simple dish… Everything is running in formation and seems fairly normal until you accidentally drop an extra ingredient in the mix. You start to freak out and prepare to waste the batch, but take a chance and taste the dish instead of throwing it away. Instead of being disgusted, you are amazed at how this particular ingredient improved the dish overall! That was my experience this weekend, seeing future house prodigy Shaun Frank open for the Chainsmokers.
While I bought my ticket months in advance, I was especially intrigued when I found out that Frank was opening, as it was a familiar name (I knew him through his last single on Spinnin’ Records, “This Could Be Love” with Borgeous), yet I didn’t know his music well. I made a point to look deeper into his music, and through a wild series of events, got hooked up with a backstage interview.
Although Frank narrowly missed our scheduled interview time, the turn of events throughout the night was impeccable. While Frank was away, I had some bonding time with the Chainsmokers’ Alex Pall, who later intervened on the interview with some kind words about the house DJ.
Needless to say, Shaun Frank surprised me with a completely groove-able house set and stunningly down-to-earth personality. The night’s events and the following interview composed one of the coolest experiences of my entire life.
How are you doing today, Shaun?
Awesome. Just finished playing here in Portland, Maine with the Chainsmokers and it was crazy.
So how would you describe your mixing style as a DJ?
I like to… I mean, I play differently every night. You know, like, obviously opening for the Chainsmokers I’d play a different set than I would in New York doing my own show… [talking to Alex] Come in, what do you think about that?
Alex: I don’t sleep through interviews, alright? This guy just thinks he gets to sleep through interviews? This guy can’t be trusted.
Shaun: I was eating lobster, yo. It was my third lobster in the last 2 days.
Alex: Don’t trust him, man. Those are the worst.
[To Alex] What do you think about the producer, the DJ, the man, Shaun Frank?
Alex: He’s incredible. He’s gonna be huge. I hate him, but he [is] a good guy and he’ll be huge… Like, no homo. [laughs] There’s not a lot of guys who can write songs and produce songs the way he can… That’s fucking big. He’s actually really nice too… He drinks like a bitch though.
Shaun: That’s all you need.
[laughs] What was your creative process behind the song “TIME,” which is, as we know, your new single on Size Records?
Yeah, I just put out “TIME” on Size last week, or about ten days ago… It’s actually a bit of an older track for me; I made it a little while ago. I was just getting really inspired by old Chicago house with pianos and [adding] a fresh, modern vocal to that old-school style… So that’s kinda where the sound came from. I was experimenting with a little UK garage sounds with pianos… Just messing with it and that was the first track that I came up with in that kind of style; I’ve been making a lot more stuff, you know, in that vein lately.
I think that blend of classic and modern and all these elements that you threw together was kind of why, I think, Size probably picked it up. You’re definitely a unique producer.
Thank you, man. Yeah, I mean it’s funny, I don’t really love the term “future house” because I think people [think that] anything that goes like “dun-dun-duh-dun-dundun” [singing generic house melody] is “future house” now. My stuff is technically future house because it’s a more modern-sounding spin on house music… So I guess you could call it “future house.”
During your show, you dropped your new ID for the first time tonight, can you tell us a little about that?
The ID that I dropped tonight is a track called “All About.” We’re dropping it on Dim Mak Records next week. What’s the exact date… May 18th, I think? Don’t quote me on that… I’m really excited, it’s a collaboration with these guys VanRip, they’re from Toronto as well. One of the guys in the group has this insane voice… They’re great producers, but then one day we were in the studio tracking up this vocal part, he started singing this hook and it was, like, crazy… So we put that in the track and kinda built around that.
Can you tell us about the Oliver Heldens collab that’s coming out?
Yeah, we met up on New Year’s [Eve] in Toronto, he was playing a gig. It’s funny, we went bowling together in Niagara Falls… We were chatting about music and, I don’t know, I really dig his vibe and I think he picked up on my vibe… He’s like “Hey, can I come by the studio?” So he came by the studio and I played him a vocal I had… Then he got back to Amsterdam and he hit me up on Facebook and he was like “Hey man, that vocal… Can I hear it again?” I sent it to him again and that’s how the collab started. It’s featuring Delaney Jane who was the vocalist on “This Could Be Love,” she’s been doing a lot of wicked stuff, she’s a really close friend of mine and I do a lot of producing for her in Toronto… Anyway, it’s featuring her vocals; me and her wrote the vocal together, me and Oliver kinda put the rest of it together over 3 or 4 weeks. It’s coming out in June and I’m really excited. He debuted it at Ultra, the response on the internet was crazy… Then he played it at Coachella and apparently people were singing along, so Spinnin’ was like “Let’s get this thing out!” Massive.
Speaking of Delaney Jane, I was wondering how you take a producer like Borgeous, who’s a massive big room producer in the scene with “Tsunami,” “Celebration,” etc. and combine it with a (I know you don’t like the term) future house producer, how does that combine to make this kind-of progressive/deep sound? Can you describe that?
Me and Borgeous met in Miami last year during Miami Music Week, he told me specifically [that], cause he knew I was fuckin’ around with deeper music, he was like “I’d love to do something like that!” So that’s kinda how that came to be. He was really vibin’ on that song “Sleepless” by Cazzette, he was like “I just love this song, but I don’t want to repeat,” he said “I just wanna do something deeper.” So I went home and I had… Actually, with “This Could Be Love,” we had that vocal-chop part that’s in the drop first, then we tossed it back and forth and added a bunch of stuff around it, then Delaney came in with that vocal. The response on that track’s been crazy… It’s still on the radio! It’s exciting.
One last question, what is it like being a DJ on stage and seeing this sea of people listening and jamming to your music?
I mean it’s a really good feeling when you’re in the zone. There’s almost like this feeling that you can do no wrong; you could drop any track and it’s gonna go crazy. I call that the “autopilot zone,” it’s really hard to get there, but if you get there on the right night and the right time, it’s like the best feeling in the world because you just start to play this streak you love and then you drop your own tracks and, you know, it just doesn’t matter. There’s a feeling in the room where everyone is connected and there’s just this crazy energy, you can definitely feel it; they can feel it and you can feel it and everyone’s kind of in the same world. That’s definitely the best part of being a DJ, when you hit that point. It definitely happened tonight in Portland, there were some big moments, it was a huge night. The Chainsmokers have amazing fans and I appreciate being on the road with them.
Definitely cool of them. Thanks for talking today, Shaun!
No worries, buddy.
Shaun Frank’s new single “TIME” is available now on Size Records. Support him and grab the track today.