LA’s frogi is filled with contrasts but not contradictions. The songwriter and producer recently released a bedroom pop EP titled Introvert. It is restrained and quiet, tied together with a strong motif of love, though probably not the love you’re thinking of. Her stories are nuanced and sensitive, but that is not what defines her. She is a formidable artist, with a clear vision for where she wants to go and a strong grip on how to get there.
frogi can name the exact inspiration for her new music project: the 2016 dark comedy, Swiss Army Man. Its stars, Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe both contribute to the soundtrack, but they don’t necessarily ‘sing’—their vocals are pitched and looped and cut to create an ecosystem of sounds, which the composers (Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull and Robert McDowell) arrange to fit the emotional arc of the film. This process opened frogi’s world to new possibilities.
“I had never felt confident enough in my instrumental abilities to do what I have in my head,” she told me. “But after listening to that soundtrack I thought, I can do what I have in my head because I have a voice.”
Her vocals are foundational on Introvert. Each song finds a new way of utilizing them—on “peace of mind,” she echoes into the ether, while the hums in “time” sway from side to side. Few instruments are prevalent on the release, save for steady drums and accenting keyboard melodies. But the moments you remember all come from frogi herself.
Though it took Swiss Army Man to get the project going, frogi had been writing songs for years, and poems and prose years before that. “I wanted to be a novelist,” she said, describing her childhood affinity for language. She began with poetry, which became lyric writing after she lost a close loved one at the age of 19. The written word gives her time to study and process its meaning, and it usually leads her to understand a deeper part of herself. This was especially integral while she was grieving; she would revisit songs written stream-of-consciousness, which revealed her coping and eventually healing from her loss.
The first song frogi wrote for this project was “thnk u,” the finale of the EP. It wasn’t a single, but it may contain everything you need to know about the project and the time in the Angeleno’s life. “Thank you, for fucking me up,” goes the chorus, “cuz if it wasn’t for you I’d never have to fight to get back up.” She made clear that she is expressing pure gratitude for her past and for experiences that break us down. “It’s a complex thing to grasp,” she remarked, but these are the moments when we grow. And this belief served as the catalyst for the entire project.
The most prominent theme on Introvert is love, marginally; she sings of feelings that creep between moments when we might not feel all that much affection, either for others or ourselves. “thnk u” can be interpreted as love for an adversary, just like the EP’s opener, “peace of mind,” which praises compromise. “moonlight” and “time” focus on being in love, where the former grapples with the idea of it versus the act, and the latter is waiting for the right moment for it to blossom. frogi hesitated when she told me about the fifth track from the release, (number three on the tracklist,) “sunrise,” because she felt unsure that it fit the narrative. “It was inspired by my own experiences with feeling taken advantage of,” she explained. “You do your best in the situation you’re in and you fight for a better outcome.” So while the song may not be explicitly thematic, fighting for your own well-being is still self-love.
The music industry is not new to frogi. She has created material under a different moniker and collaborated on songwriting for other acts, and is therefore more than familiar with the inside of a studio. She told me that in those early years, the space could feel stifling; background studio players would challenge her and, even perhaps without realizing it, they prevented her from expressing her artistic vision. The situations she’s referencing were all with men, “but I’m not saying all male producers are bad,” she clarified. Yet, there seems to be a pattern—one that frogi hopes to break.
“There is a shortage of female producers and every time I come across one, it’s like a breath of fresh air,” frogi told me. So, with that incentive, she set out to form a community where any artist would feel welcome and unstifled. “I wanted to create a space for myself and other artists where they feel listened to, and I want to fully support their vision and give them the time and the respect they deserve.”
The collective, as she refers to it, has already begun to impress her. Currently, frogi is looking for women to perform with her onstage to create a powerful experience with the sonics of a Bon Iver live show and the optics of a Beyoncé performance—pushing her sensitive, bedroom pop to its emotional and political limit. All this works toward her clear mission as an artist. As she put it, “The statement I want to make with frogi is that women can do everything.” And with her help, they will.
words: Zoë Elaine