The brainchild of core member Justin” Frenchie” Workman, FRENCHIE! has perfected a shimmering pop punk sound with just the right amount of sweetness – and created a live show that is just as flashy, with balloons, dance parties, and confetti aplenty. “SMR GRLZ” is the name of his latest single.
Learn more about Frenchie in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What’s a song you are loving these days?
Hey! Thanks for having me! I am talking to you from my home studio in Memphis, TN!
Motion Sickness by Neck Deep is playing right now. I LOVE this song. It’s really catchy and super sick when you’re on a run!
Did you approach the start of this year any differently than you did last year? What have been some of the highlights for you this year?
This year heavily involved goals. Ordinarily I am pretty chill, go with the flow kinda guy, but this year I had some pretty firm ones I didn’t budge on, and I am happy to report that we’ve reached most of them! Getting the record finished up was the biggest one. As a musician, hearing the songs you had in your head come to life is really rewarding. Getting to say “I DID THAT!”.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there ever a time where you thought about doing something completely different?
The first time I can remember being old enough to say what I wanted to be when I was a grown up has always been a musician. There has never ever been another choice, or an option since as far back as I can remember.
If you mean earliest playing memory, My parents got me a little acoustic guitar when I was young, but it was so badly made that you could barely play notes on it; it wouldn’t stay in tune. So I honestly almost stopped because I thought I sucked. I ended up buying a bass guitar because when I saw the tabs I would print out for like a Blink-182 song I noticed, “Hey! He’s playing the exact same thing as the guitar, only it’s just one note! I can do that!”
I always like to know how a particular city has influenced an artist. How do you think your hometown has affected the music that you make today?
I do tend to draw on whatever city I am staying in at the time. Memphis has a ton of musical history; its vast and rich. So there’s a struggle to keep building, and to keep building, to keep defying convention. Memphis is one of the most punk rock cities I have ever been to. A great example: My mixing engineer was recording this band, and they just didn’t have any more money to rent studio time, so they just did it in their house. Without a second thought. I know that’s more common these days, but they weren’t a band you could just plug a guitar into a DI and do everything in Pro Tools. They were a full band with a three-piece horn section. There is a resilience that this city instills in you. It makes you tougher. While I wouldn’t consider my music to be tough, the DIY ethics have never left me, and I keep going, doing what I feel like I am supposed to as an artist. Pop music isn’t exactly revered in most social circles, but it’s what I do. It’s in my guts.
Where did the name FRENCHIE! come from? Is there a story behind it?
I am originally from Canada. When I moved to the south, I was given that nickname in school… it stuck. I tried to explain that I can’t speak french, but they insisted.
Let’s talk about your recently released single “SMR GRLZ.” What was the inspiration for this track?
Well, it’s really just about a feeling more than about a specific moment or person. That feeling of summer romance is just the embodiment of youth to me. You always know it’s gonna come to an end, but the experience is so bittersweet, and you never forget it, fleeting as it may be.
When do you hope to release more new music and a full-length album of songs?
We’ve got some new stuff coming I believe in October of this year. We are concentrating on singles for the remainder of the year. I feel like singles are the way to go. That way I can give the attention each of my songs deserves. Videos to go along with everything, make each song an experience.
Your live shows sound like a lot of fun with all the balloons and confetti. What can you tease about them?
We try to make everything cohesive, to all go together. Chances are, if there’s a big moment in the video, you will catch a reference to it. We try to do it big wherever we’re at: huge theatre to a house show. We want everyone to party!
Where do you think you are happiest- on stage, in the studio or elsewhere?
Stage, absolutely. When I break that barrier and everyone is settled into the idea of actually having a good time and getting super hype, that’s my favorite thing. I’m a newer act, so sometimes people are reluctant, but I try to give off the vibe like “Hey! Come on in, the water’s warm!”
Now that the summer is about over, what was something fun you did? Did you get a chance to play live much?
I honestly try to keep all this stuff I do musically fun, because it’s non-stop work. I am always hustling, writing, recording, so if it’s gonna be that much work, it had better be fun!The SMR GRLZ video was super fun, and honestly half the fun is the planning!
I played a few regional shows, but we’re really pushing the current singles right now, so that next spring when we REALLY hit the road, we’ve got a ton of kids ready for us!
How do you think being a musician gives you all the most joy in life today?
It’s that connection with the kids who are clearly amped who sing the words back to you. THAT’S why I keep doing it!
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Man, the people I love is always evolving, but pop punk is my first love forever. I love older pop punk like Lagwagon, Blink- 182, New Found Glory, all the way to the more current breed like State Champs, Neck Deep, Between You and Me.
I also love pop music: Kesha’s new album is SO GOOD, and I would LOVE to work with someone like Robyn or Carly Rae Jepson. The 1975 have a super dope style all their own that could be interesting too.
What advice would you give to a young person who is considering getting into the music career path?
Start NOW. Waste no time. Start with a clear objective, and list all the steps to get there, start crossing them off one by one; maintain momentum. I cannot stress it enough: START TODAY! There is always someone working harder than you, willing to put in that extra hour.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
Life can be a real drag. All I want is for people to feel a little better. If I can take you out of that rut and invoke some sort of happiness, even for a second, then I have done my job.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me! I am super stoked on the coming months. If you haven’t checked our videos out on Youtube (youtube.com/frenchieissohot) yet, PLEASE DO! Word of mouth is still the best way to discover new music. So tell your friends! We’ve always got merch contests going on too, so check our Instgram (instagram.com/frenchieissohot) for that too!