Frank Ocean

Key Words

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TESTO - Frank Ocean - Key Words

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TESTO - Frank Ocean - Key Words

Frank Ocean: What do you think, or suppose, was before everything?

Christopher Chassol: (laughs) So basically you're asking me..., what I think? I think everything is possible. I think it can be whatever you decide to be; whatever you choose.

FO: Chris, what the fuck are you talking about? you don't understand the question.

CC: The question is what do I think there was before the Big Bang. So I think you can decide whatever you want because we have no clue. We are not astrophysicists; they get religious at the end.

Om'Mas Keith: And this is why there will always be a God principle/ When you get to the point where you can't explain everything, the human soul needs to find something because we can't accept not knowing. I'm a scientist. Everything I fuck with has been proven. That's like everything in my life.

CC: Really? Proven?

OK: Right, maths and science. It's like, this shit is real! Only in business and creating though. In love there's no rules. In love, you'll never know anything. Business can definitely know things. You can look at statistics in love and all that shit too, but you'll always derive the fact that you'll never be able to predict anything. I think in business you can use models to predict outcomes. More so that in love.

FO: Wo have you guys gotten the best commentary on yourselves from? Has it been your enemies or your loved ones?

CC: Well it's my girl, of course. I do music to please girls, you know? At the beginning you do it for her to love me, because I want to shine in front of her.

OK: Like a diamond.

CC: I'm doing music for her to feel proud of me.

FO: You know that song, "shine bright like a diamond?" You don't know that song?

CC: No, it's from a movie? I don't know? Maybe-maybe - it's a girl? Like Miley Cyrus? I don't know I'm not an entertainer.

OK: My mother used to always say weird shit to us, basically saying like we were a very select group of people in the hood who had some consciousness and were trying to get out. And she would always make those weird statements to reinforce that, I don't even want to repeat what she said because it doesn't sound good. Basically, telling me that I should rise above what was going on in the neighbourhood. To this day, just how ambiguous your parents or elders around you can be, my mother, my grandmother, they'd always say stuff like 'you're from here, but you're not of here.' Just a repeated mantra, always. 'Each one, teach one.' so when I talk to my mom it's all these paraphrases and lessons. When I talk to my grandmother , it's always this wisdom. Everybody older than me are the ones who really give me the commentary as I move forward.

CC: When we were talking, I was thinking of echoes in your life or phrases that people say when you are young... Phrases that stay. Short ones that constitute your vision. There was one guy, I was 20 and in a band. I was good, but I was not super good. The guy was and older guy in a bar. He said, 'Yeah, pretty good, your concert, but you don't have the sound.' I was really pissed off. I knew he was right and this phrase - I don't even know who this guy is, I met him ten seconds - but this phrase stayed to remind me that I'm not there.

OK: I had one guy do that. This is a pivotal moment in my beat-making life. I was 16, I made these beasts and prepared them for this gentleman called Weldon Irvine who was a famous jazz musician. He came to my house, listened to my beats, and I knew they were great but he shot me down, like 'yeah they're a little busy bro.' It was my first shit of honesty that prepared me for what was going to come for the rest of my life. I always go back to that one scenario of people having that one opinion. You can let it destroy you, you have to add it to your repertoire and think about it. When he said that, I thought to myself, maybe there's a way to do things simple. I'm still on a quest for that to this day in my life, that level of simplicity, because of this interaction with Weldon.

FO: When I used to sing when I was younger, my mom would be like, 'stop hollering!' It used to make me all self-conscious about how I sounded, like my tone of voice or how loud I was, and I didn't want to sound like I was dying and shit. And then I discovered Prince at my mom's friend Jheri's house, I mean she used to have him on like everyday and I honestly didn't pay attention at first but I vividly remember the first time I heard 'Beautiful Ones' and this grown man singing for his life. Immediately I remember it clicking like , 'oh, it's okay to holler and scream and everything. Like, express yourself kid... Go off! So yeah, Prince basically made it all okay. (Laughter) And I mean there was other stuff like my grandfather always correcting my speech, which was a regular thing. But for some reason I remember I was picking up a habit of saying, 'yes, indeed.' And like really stretching it out too which sounded country as hell. I think I was picking it up from my older twin cousins or whatever and he wasn't having it, at all. Low-key I think he's the reason why I never picked up a strong New Orleans accent for real, which I kind if wish I did. I guess I could turn it on if I tried to but yea in general I probably just sound like I'm from anywhere in America.

OK: Talking like black people, what does it mean?

FO: Yeah, I heard that growing up sometimes. 'Oh, you talk white.' But you know what it means though.

OK: In the context that I grew up when I was told to talk white it was becuase I took the time to make sure everybody understood every word and used big words.

CC: It's about putting the white guy on the side of the intellect and putting the black guy on the side of the intuitive, primitive things. 'Oh, his language swings.' (snaps fingers). 'It's close to dance. Close to the animals, to nature!' The white guys speaks clearly like the brain. It's doing this when people say 'talking like white people' and 'talking like black people.' It's so stupid.

OK: That's at the core. So why are people still doing that right now? Still! In fifth grade saying to another kid, 'Why you talk black?' Why you talk white? Wigger!'

FO: True. But it's all changing all the time. There'll be new cultures that collide like this in the future and this will be old news.

OK: Do you like being alone?

CC: Yeah, I love it.

OK I hate being alone. I love to have so many people around me, much as I can. I like to have people sleeping in my house.

CC: I like my toilet. I need my space.

OK: No, everything's separate. You can't use my toilet. (laughs) I like an environment where I'm in my world and there are people in the house, I don't know what it's about, but I like having people around me. I like entourage. I think I'm going to have a big entourage, really big.

FO: I'm not that way.

OK: You can be alone, huh?

FO: Yeah. I can be alone. But remember I used to have a bunch of people around my house all the time. All the time.

OK: Trusted crew, though?

FO: Eh, some randoms too.

CC: And people staying over and they wouldn't leave?

FO: Some people wouldn't leave, they'd just be there.

CC: So you're like 'so. so..' (claps hands on knees)' 'what are we doing?'

OK: Do people do this at your flat?

CC: Yeah, they stay because the place is good. So I'm like 'So so so... I have to work... blah blah blah.' They won't leave! Being alone is good. With this, the invention of the iPod, it changed everything. You have all things, all of this music everywhere. The Proustrian feeling, the feeling of nostalgia, you can bring nostalgia in a place where you have never experienced it before. You had Walkmans but the iPod changed everything.

OK: Data revival. That's what brings those feelings. Seeing it, it gives you unlimited... It's like fucking drugs, man.

CC: I love good nostalgia. Nostalgia that goes for a while. It's crazy when music is so powerful. It can still be technical and poetic, like 'I know which chord makes me feel about Wednesday afternoon in 1983.' Think like that. You could almost make an Excel document about it.

OK: Take for instance, every time I hear 'Don't Forget About Me' from the Breakfast Club. Whenever I immediately hear that song, I get this immediate image of being; because the only time I saw this movie was on WPIX11
in syndication and it would come on Saturdays once every three months or something like that... But I always remember catching it at home on a Saturday, 11 years old. It takes me right back to that time, every time.

Zing Tsejeng: Do you think people are mostalgic these days?

OK: I don't know.

CC: No, I don't think so.

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