Yale-grad turned electro-pop artist pj frantz unveils “i can only write songs about you”

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Photo Credit Amanda Elman

Recommended Tracks: “i only write songs about u,” “waves”
Artists You May Like: Noah Henderson, David Alexander

“I’ve always struggled with press,” said LA-based singer-songwriter pj frantz, who grabbed the attention of this writer with a personalized video at the piano showing off his song “waves” through Instagram DM. “It’s part of what I consume if I’m really into an artist. Alexander 23, Lauv… the artists that I really love. When I go into deep dives of them, it’s really through a lot of YouTube videos. Watching interviews that allow me to get to know those artists. I don’t necessarily open the most recent edition of a publication… that’s not part of my day-to-day, I just get little drops of all of it.”

frantz, a recent Yale graduate originally from San Francisco, traded a life of rides on the Metro North and concerts at the rustic Toad’s Place for the sunshine and music industry accessibility of LA. An EP is coming soon, but, in the meantime, new song “i only write songs about u” is out now.

“waves”/ Artist Development 

If “waves” is your first dose of frantz, it is an immediate attention grabber: “Got my head in the sanddddd, and all of your waves. came. crashin’ into meeeee,” he sings with modern-day electro-pop instrumentation and vocoder-assisted harmonics. The hook, equally as enticing, is today’s pop sound personified: “Damn, I think I got just too love drunk and I –  got a little bit too fucked up and I – got a little bit, ooh ooh ooh, obsessive with your, ooh ooh ooh.” The birth of songs like this shows just how far he has come from his earliest days of musical interest when he knew he wanted to create, but was unsure how to execute.

“I would ‘make music’ improvising by myself making melodies… I love chords, I just could not find words that resonated with me,” he said. “I love writing, but I felt like I had nothing to say. In hindsight, I think it’s because I didn’t know what I was feeling. I knew that what I was trying to write wasn’t really about who or what I was about, and so it didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel authentic.”

He grew up listening to and studying an array of music… everything from modern pop to classic rock and contemporary R&B. With time, he came into his artistic self. “I realized my own emotional limits,” he said. “Once I brought my walls down and let that bleed into the songs, it opened a lot of doors creatively.” Now, he is comfortable with his process but acknowledges that he still has to work through roadblocks. “A lot of these songs are written retrospectively,” he said. “I talk about it like it’s happening right now, but these experiences that I’m drawing from are from late high school and early college. Writing songs is really tricky. It’s hard to get things to feel good.”

All or Nothing

While demonstrating how he used vocal chops to create introductory elements of his song “downbad,” he revealed his perfect pitch. He sang the chop a half step under, then immediately corrected himself. Furthering his grasp on the creative side, he dove into his process for almost every song on the project throughout the conversation. “I originally wrote ‘leave this party’ as an indie rock song,” he said, despite the song’s final iteration taking a completely different form. “Something like Del Water Gap ‘Ode To A Conversation Stuck In Your Throat.’ I wrote the song in a different key… I was down the octave in the verses, pop the octave in the chorus. When I was finishing it, it felt shallow. It wasn’t communicating the emptiness I was feeling. So I stripped it down and sucked all the air out of it to leave whatever that feeling is.”

The all-or-nothing feel of frantz’s lyrics is intentional, coming from a place of genuine spirals both up and down. However, he has used it to his creative advantage. “With my current girlfriend, when we started hanging out, it was very under the table,” he said. “I didn’t think she was into me and yet we still kept hanging out. It felt like we were in this limbo of always being a step away from being properly together, and a step away from nothing. I love writing songs from that place.”

His songs “leave this party” and another song to come with the EP are great examples of that, taking the concept of “Here” by Alessia Cara and turning it up ten notches. “I love in my songs to bounce between really reserved and absolutely bonkers crazy. ‘I kinda wanna leave this party and drive straight into the ocean,’ ‘I think about u sometimes, all the time, every time.’

“I can only write songs about you” 

“I can only write songs about you,” his newest release, is the strongest song on the project. The tune, at the jump, gives off a “Fix You” by Coldplay vibe before splitting into a more electronica breakdown, and is essentially designed to close out the EP. Powerhouse vocals, amplified Cashmere Cat-like production elements and instrumentation, and the palpable attempt to attain closure despite not actually getting what he wanted and lingering questions all come together to create this grandiose moment of music: “How do you cut a person out of your life? Cause you ripped me out, but you’re stitched in mine.” He even throws a nostalgic, early-stage Lauv reference in for good measure: “Eighty miles an hour… showin’ me that song bout’ Paris in the rain. Bodies in the shower… talkin’ bout’ how everything would be the same.”

“I’d say I’m pop… indie pop, but what does that mean?,” said frantz on his artistic identity. “If we’re talking about Lauv or Braden Bales or any of these guys, I can give very specific ways of how I’m similar to them, but also ways in which I’m different. I write and produce all of these songs by myself in my bedroom. Every decision is very intentional. In college, it was a battle of like… ‘I need to not drop out, but I need to make and finish songs all the time. Now that I don’t have to worry about that, I’ve been making so much music. I just need to put it together in projects.”

Stream “I can only write songs about u” :

Follow frantz on social media: Instagram / Tik Tok / YouTube

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