We caught up with J Frisco about their new album Cut Throat, the history of the band and their approach to music.
Tell us about how J Frisco formed and some early memories of you playing together?
We met at Leeds College of Music, we kept bumping into each other and kept saying we should have a jam together, we hardly knew each other… Eventually we booked a rehearsal studio and jammed, free improvising. It was incredible. It was the first time all of us had played with just women, and it was really quite electrifying.
Matt Bourne asked one of us if they’d like a gig, and we put J Frisco forward… after only 2 jam sessions. We spent a week forming the band, we named it, conceptualised it, made art, rehearsed and gigged it 2 weeks into the band forming and we haven’t stopped since. We’ll always remember that gig!
Some other memories from our early days include a gig where we set up a tent in one of the rehearsal rooms in Leeds College of Music, we filled it with random stuff; a shoe, a chair, just random crap. We set up a Facebook event for the gig with the location ‘if you have to ask you’ll never know’ … we thought we were so edgy and avant-garde making this gig that had no location and we played for hours looking at the tent and streamed visuals. It’s a hard one to explain but an early memory of the early Frisco fun days! We did a lot of weird stuff, painted ourselves in UV paint, charged 1p at gigs, there was a lot of lying on the floor, making art with our feet, screaming, crying, slept on a lot of sofas in places like Stoke; we were fiesty young feminist Friscos.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
We have a lot of inspirations, that’s another thing that makes this band so great to be in. Megs came from a metal and pop guitar and vocals background, Lara originally came from a classical background before getting into jazz and improv and Jemma well she can do it ALL but she brings the hip hop, soul, pop, jazz, and the improv. And so we all listen to a lot of different music. That’s always been a big part of our process, we do a lot of listening together!
What advice would you give to a young musician who is starting to discover avant-garde music?
Go with your gut, don't hold back and don't hide. Making this kind of music you can't do without being vulnerable. THERE ARE NO RULES. Lots of people in avante-garde music try to implement rules but the point is that it is different. We never sought out to create this type of music, it came to us naturally from creating art without boundaries. Just be you. Do you.
Tell us more about your new album 'Cut Throat' and how did it develop?
We made this at an interesting crossroads in all our lives; some of us were going through some dark times but we were determined to make another album. We organised a week at Sam Hobbs' recording studio. We came knowing we wanted to improvise until we had made the album. We cared less about what people would think of this album, it was more about making music we thought felt good, true, and genuine. Change is always a massive part of this band, inner change, moving cities, becoming different people, our change in taste but we've never changed our views on jazz/improv.
The process was cut throat hence the title, we had more confidence this time round, if we didn’t like something we were vocal about it, we’d do what we wanted to a track and with a track and we pushed ourselves and each other.
What's next for you? Any big 2021 plans?
We’re hoping to make another album this year… but I guess the biggest news is that we’ve changed our line up a bit. Megs is playing a lot of drums these days, Jemma’s doing a lot more vocals and Lara has been doing a lot of live processing and electronics. You can hear some of this new set up in our London Jazz Festival gig from November 2020, it’s up on YouTube!
We like to change things up, we always knew we’d change the line up at some point and we’re excited to explore new sounds. That’s the main thing for us, exploring sounds and messing with them to make sounds people haven’t heard before and don’t know who’s making what sound.
Photo by Jess Rose