Before Starting At Yale, Archer Frodyma Released Her Debut Album

 

Archer and I were introduced because her Dad and my Mum ended up having dinner together one night in Cleveland. Inevitably, the conversation must have moved into bragging (or “discussing”) children and before too long Mum had sent me her name with a message “listen to archer frodyma! she is an hb girl!” HB stands for Hathaway Brown, my all-girls high-school, and so always wanting to support a fellow Blazer (yes, that was our mascot) I instantly started my streaming session. If I remember correctly, I was in a hotel room in Chicago and I watched the evening bustle out of the window while the first few beautiful chords of the nostalgic and passionate album began.

Currently a Political Science major at Yale University, Archer’s debut album Send My Love Away was released at the end of 2019 after years of work. I spoke with Archer to learn more about the record-making process, where she gets her song-writing inspiration from, and whether she is slowing down now that she has finished this big project (spoiler: no!).

 

 

+ When did you first get into music? 

Our alma-mater (Hathaway Brown) has a lot to do with it. In fourth grade, there was a “Meet the Instruments” night and I went and saw a girl playing the upright bass. The orchestra director who I remember very vividly.

{JENNY: WAS IT MRS SIMON-MIETUS?}

Yes!

{JENNY: SHE WAS MY ORCHESTRA TEACHER TOO!}

I remember her saying that there weren’t a lot of girls who played the upright bass and so I knew I wanted that to be my instrument. My Mom was really encouraging me to pick up a musical instrument, she really wanted that for my life, so I started the bass in fourth grade and it continues to be a big part of my life. Now I am in the Yale Symphony Orchestra and I really appreciate how it has opened up my musical sensibility and really trained my ears to listen and play classical music. Playing the bass has exposed me to music that I probably wouldn’t have listened to otherwise.

In middle school, I was gifted a Taylor Swift CD which I listened to obsessively and loved the fact that she wrote her own songs so I begged my Mom to let me join a guitar class. Almost immediately, I started writing songs. The first one I wrote was about how my friend group was falling apart, it was very dramatic. And, I have been writing songs ever since.

 

+ How did the album come about?

In high school, it got to the point where I had so many songs that I felt I could (and should) compile an album. All of my guitar and vocal parts for Send My Love Away were recorded while I was still in high school. In fact, I was still recording up until the night before I left for college! To make the record, I was able to get funding through HB which was great because I wanted to engineer a recording process that allowed me to work with professional musicians. I could have done something more pared-down, but that wasn’t really what I wanted.

I worked really closely with my bass teacher because not only is he an incredible musician, but he also has a big network in Cleveland. Primarily, he worked as the producer, helping me figure out the instrumentations and getting a group together. We started having rehearsals the summer before my senior year, then we recorded scratch tracks, and then we moved into the actual recording which took place in a couple of different locations – making it a very interesting process. I wrote and sang all the songs and played guitar on all the tracks; but, I also had my bass teacher playing electric and upright bass, someone playing percussion, someone playing the violin, and someone playing piano and cello. Incredibly talented people! I am so grateful because the mixing engineer worked tirelessly on creating the finished product.

All of last year I was communicating back and forth with the mixing engineer about different mixes, where I wanted there to be a fade-out, that kind of thing. We finished that part at the beginning of last summer. Then, it had to be mastered to ensure that when played through different sound systems it sounds consistently good. I released it on December 31st, making it a two-year process! I really wanted to get it out in 2019, so that it didn’t drag into a third-year. It took a long time, but I am extra proud of it.

 

 

+ What were some of your main inspirations behind the songs?

In my mind, I peg myself as writing about certain kinds of topics (relationships & romance). But, I think this album has nice diversity in that it definitely comes from a place of my personal romantic experiences but also musings on all kinds of love. Send My Love Away seemed like the right fit for the name because it encapsulated all the temperments of the album. For that song, I was writing a Mother’s Day card and started thinking about some of the love letters she has from when she was my age. They don’t really happen anymore, but I think they are so romantic and possess that really physical, lasting mark of something you once shared with someone. The title song came out of that. So that’s an example of a moment that inspired me to write a song.

 

+ “Woman Now” is one of my favorite songs on the album, what is the story behind that?

The album opens with “All The Best” which is this strong, proclamation and then closes with “Woman Now” which is more reflective and my commentary on looking at someone else’s relationship. I had a friend of many years and she started getting a lot of attention from guys and just completely changed as a person – it was so upsetting because she turned into someone that wasn’t a positive influence in my life. “Woman Now” is a reflection on how you watch someone change because of a relationship. When I listen to it now I feel like I am singing to myself. It’s a reminder that you don’t need validation from men to feel strong and powerful and like a true woman.

 

+ What are you hoping people take away from your music? 

Sharing stories is special and music is a format to do that. One of the most basic reasons that we create music is because it (hopefully) touches other people and makes them feel things that we are/were feeling. It is a community activity. As a representation of me as a person, I hope that the album shows strength and courage in terms of vulnerability. Actually, there is a lot of vulnerability on the album. In any capacity, it is powerful to hear someone share something that they have been through. So if anyone can relate to my music in some way, then I think it has been successful.

 

 

+ What role do you think music plays in our lives in 2020?

That is a really interesting question, especially being on a college campus right now and with the advent of streaming services, music is constantly being played all the time. On-campus, everyone is walking around with their Bluetooth headphones in listening to music. In my life, music has been the most profound way for me to connect with other people, but I think streaming has made it a little less special and made it more of a commodity in some ways. The fact that we are all listening to it all the time maybe is detracting from actual human interaction. On the other hand, I think it is incredible that so many independent artists can put out music without being on a record label.

 

+ Which artists are inspiring you at the moment? 

Well, this semester I am enrolled in an electronic dance music class, so I have been listening to a little bit of EDM. I just got really into Don Diablo! On the other side of the spectrum, there is a singer-songwriter who plays a million instruments, Theo Katzman (he is a member of Vulfpeck), he just released a new album which I am loving. Little Monarch has really cool songs out too!

 

+ Any advice for other women who dream of putting together an album? 

At this point, I still have a lot of questions myself! But, when it comes to compiling a musical project, I think looking back I wish I had been slightly less ambitious because nine songs are a lot! So I would say, really think about the songs as stand-alone and also how they work as a unit artistically. I think it is important to have an artistic vision sonically of what you want the album to sound like and in terms of what you want the instrumentation going on. That is really important!

 

+ Are you giving yourself a break from writing after such a big project? 

No, I am still writing! I started a song a week ago and I am going to finish it soon. My sound is still in a place where it is constantly evolving, so the music that I am writing now in some ways sounds very different from what is on the album. Because most of that I wrote three or four years ago!

 

Thank you so much, Archer!

Make sure to listen to Send My Love Away and stay up-to-date with her on Insta!

 

+ A Cleveland Orchestra violinist reflects on classical music’s role in 2020.

+ Emily Faye celebrates female songwriters through “Write Like A Girl”.

+ Two Sofar Sounds musicians reflect on the importance of intimate shows.

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