Q&A with DJ and Illustrator, FRANKI CHAN – Founder of Record + Production Company, IHEARTCOMIX talks merging music, video and art by way of DJing, Illustration & Live Events.
Posted On 02 Jan 2015
Tag: A-Trak, Adrian Tomine, Alison Wonderland, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Anamanaguchi, Antwon, Apple, Artist Interview, Beat It, Beats by Dre, Beauty Bar, Bloc Party, Bloomington, Boys Noize, Caribou, Check Yo' Ponytail!, Chela, Cinespace, Cinespace-Tuesdays, Craig Thompson, Crystal Castles, CYMBALS, CYP, CYP TV Show, Daniel Clowes, Diplo, Disney, Florida, Flosstradamus, Franki Chan, Hannah Diamond, Hollywood, IHC, IHC 1NFINITY, IHEARTCOMIX, Illinois, IN, Interpol, J-Pop, Japan, Japanese, Japanese culture, Jim Lee, Justice, K-POP, Kickstarter, Lady Sovereign, Live From Check Yo' Ponytail, Lupe Fiasco, Marvel, Michael Jackson, MSTRKRFT, Okinawa, Operation: Cliff Calvin, Pabst, Peaches, Pitchfork, Pitchfork TV, punk rock, She Wants Revenge, Simian Mobile Disco, Skrillex, Skyyy Vodka, Stan Lee, Sunday-Funday, Tempura Kidz, The Teddybears, Thriller, Vice, X-Men, Youth Code
In a decade of revivals and re-imagination, Franki Chan holds close the ideals and vision that has brought him to the forefront of his craft, seamlessly merging music, video and art by way of DJing, Illustration, Live Events, Writing and Directing; all of which contribute to creating a pop-renegade aesthetic that defines the energy and unpredictability of the artist himself. This post-digital Renaissance man has created an empire of all the things he loves and is.
As Godfather of IHEARTCOMIX, Franki Chan spends his time refining all aspects of a culture he helped create. For over eleven years, IHEARTCOMIX has provided markets globally with some of the most original production concepts to come to fruition, and his personal influence with booking and curating unique lineups further establishes himself as one of the premiere tastemakers in the world. Developed initially to specify in event production, IHC later evolved into a record label with an interest in introducing the world to some of the best unheard or underground sounds.
Franki Chan’s DIY dedication to shape and evolve culture as it happens continues to be ever present in his work. Today, he resides in Los Angeles where he has established himself as a prominent figure in LA nightlife for over a decade; with a notable past that includes Fucking Awesome, Cinespace Tuesdays (w/ Steve Aoki and The Cobrasnake), and IHEARTCOMIX’s flagship series, Check Yo Ponytail. It is here that Chan works diligently to create the elements of his own modern universe and his most recent projects are a testament to years of hard work and perseverance. His ability to discover new and exciting talent has defined Chan’s taste as one that you can trust and it is apparent through the legions of successful artists who have performed at any one of Chan’s iconic events.
No one may know the true path of their future; those who succeed choose to create one for themselves. In a time where most are afraid to design the template for their success, Franki Chan has created an entire empire that continues to expand and challenge what we think we’ve all seen or heard. As the future unfolds, prepare for Franki Chan to stay on the frontline again, with innovative concepts to define a sound and aesthetic for the future to catch up with. Just like he always has.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had a chance to catch up with Franki before the New Year. Check out their Q&A below!
Hi Franki! Where does this interview find you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
It’s a couple days after Christmas, so I’m still in serious vacation mode. I have a daily agenda of watching at least 1 movie, catching up on some TV shows and slowly organizing a bunch of stuff for IHC. I like this time of year because I get to get to a lot of the stuff I never have time for, but do it at my own pace.
Where did you grow up? How do you think that influenced you and your style?
I grew up mainly in Bloomington, IN, but also stints in Florida and Okinawa, Japan. All 3 of them had a huge influence on who I am and what I do. Defining, really.
Okinawa I lived in when I was 16 & 17. I played in my first band there and got really into punk rock. Also, just being around Japanese culture changed my thinking intensely. A large part of my interests in pop culture was defined there.
Florida I mainly spent time in when I was younger and with my Father. There was something about living by the beach that really inspired me. Also I picked up a lot of stuff from my Dad. He was always watching MTV when I was growing up and that music (and the love of it) really permeated into everything I did since.
And finally Bloomington, IN is where I spent the majority of my time. While the others developed key interests and world views, Bloomington really defined who I am and my general outlook & ambitions. I learned all about the DIY way of living through the band I played in, Operation: Cliff Clavin. I learned all about writing and creating your own videos through Public Access TV. I also found my love of comics in Bloomington. Most of all, there is a small town point of view I’ve taken with me that has helped me keep a level head no matter what the circumstances in the big city of LA.
IHEARTCOMIX has evolved from a weekly party at Hollywood’s Beauty Bar to a multimedia mini-empire encompassing several popular club nights, a marketing division and a video production team. Take me back to the beginning, Franki. Who or what was the catalyst to create this mini-empire? Did you ever dream of it evolving to where it is now?
The catalysts came in forms big and small. I’ve always been a hg admirer of companies that have done this sort of thing right and have created timeless branding and properties. Disney, Marvel, Apple, Vice. All of these are well beyond where IHC is, but still a source of inspiration. It was that band I played in and being exposed to the DIY mentality that gave me the notion that something like that was possible, even on a small scale. If all goes well, maybe I’ll get there some day.
Over the course of the last few years you have began and maintained several successful parties including FUCKING AWESOME, SUNDAY-FUNDAY, CINESPACE TUESDAYS and the current rage, CHECK YO’ PONYTAIL! All of which, introduce the best in upcoming talent and garnered critical acclaim. What space are you going to invade next? Any plans to take IHC global?
Thanks! I’ve always treated our events and the curation of the talent that plays them as an art form. To me, creating a live event IS my art, or at least a part of it. When you treat it like that and not just a party or a promotion business model, it becomes something new and something alive. There is a tendancy to sell promoters short, but I don’t think that is right. The great ones work just as hard as any performing artist.
Global is indeed the next steps. Over the past few years, IHC has begun putting more and more focus on our own in house content and editorial. We’ve been slowing growing our website to be more of a culture and news resource and have begun creating a ton of original videos for our YouTube page and began a new record label called IHC 1NFINITY. All of this has been done in an effort to share the IHC aesthetic with the world and create items anyone can access. Additionally, we’ve began doing a ton of events outside of LA and tours, like Check Yo Ponytail.
Franki, you have booked acts like Skrillex and Diplo long before they were brand names. Who are you currently listening to and inspired by?
New music is a constant for me. It’s hard to keep up and what I listen to changes drastically on a daily basis. Still, I do have my faves. Some of those for 2014 were: Chela, Antwon, CYMBALS, Youth Code, Caribou, Tempura Kidz, Hannah Diamond, Anamanaguchi, TV Girl and Alison Wonderland.
You book 100 + shows a year and have had the honor of playing along side some of the best artists and DJs playing today including: MSTRKRFT, Justice, Bloc Party, Flosstradamus, Boys Noize, She Wants Revenge, Lady Sovereign,The Teddybears, Diplo, Simian Mobile Disco, A-Trak, Crystal Castles, Peaches, Lupe Fiasco, Interpol and many more. Who would you like to collaborate with next?
Hmmm. That’s tough! I really want to find out more about the J-Pop and K-Pop scenes and be able to spend more time with those artists.
What was your favorite song growing up and why?
Michael Jackson was my favorite through and through growing up. Probably ‘Beat It’ was my ultimate. I just loved everything about him and that track. Endless imagination and ambition. He was a constant inspiration.
What was the first record you bought?
Michael Jackson – Thriller
I know you still hand draw each IHC show flyer. What comic inspired you for your lifelong dream of being a comic book illustrator?
Several did, but my first big influence was X-Men and specifically the artist Jim Lee. Later more indie artists like Adrian Tomine, Craig Thompson and Daniel Clowes played a huge role.
Your business has grown to about six full-time employees who help you do everything, from shows and marketing to special events programming for Pabst, Skyy Vodka and Beats by Dre. There’s a Pitchfork TV web series, Live From Check Yo‘ Ponytail. How is the full-length documentary partly based on CYP’s 2011 national tour coming along? Have you launched the Kickstarter campaign for it yet?
Unfortunately it’s not coming along any longer! We had the campaign about a year ago. It came and went and we never made our goal. For the time being the CYP movie idea has been shelved…
BUT throughout the process we became very inspired to find something else to do and created our own version of a CYP TV Show out of it. There should be some big news about that in 2015!
To keep up with the latest in Franki Chan‘s world, visit the IHEARTCOMIX website here.