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An Interview with Fraxiom: Taco Bell, Collaborations and Creating in the Age of a Global Pandemic

Updated: May 19, 2021

2020 has been kind to Fraxiom, if no one else. Starting the year off with their debut project, Music, a collection of songs dripping with vocoder and explosive production, Fraxiom has quickly established themselves as one of the most exciting people in the hyperpop movement. The subsequent release of “Thos Moser,” a collaboration with producer Gupi released on LA’s Dog Show Records, took the underground community by storm.

Even through these uncertain times, Fraxiom has stayed busy playing at countless online raves, including 100 gecs’ recent Square Garden Minecraft festival alongside electronic heavy-hitters such as Charli XCX, Kero Kero Bonito and A.G. Cook. We were able to chat with Fraxiom about Chicago’s abundance of Taco Bell, collaborations and being unstoppable in the age of a global pandemic.

Underground Apex: First off, congrats on all the success. I feel like, despite everything going on in The World Right Now, 2020 has kind of famously been your year. From your latest single, “PetMeOnTheHeadTBH,” to the release of Music back in February.  Can you tell me about how your project Music came to be?

Fraxiom: Thank you! I’ve been doing a lot that I’m proud of in 2020, but I don’t think we can call it my “year” until I release a damn album! Which will probably happen.

Music came from breaking free of hesitations I held on to for years. Since like 2018, I knew I really wanted to release a vocal project, but as I taught myself how to make hits, I became better and better—which is good—setting the bar higher and hating the things I had made only two months ago. I kept seeing people like Will Crooks release these super good projects just kinda impulsively, so I just sorta said to myself,  “Fuck it. I am putting out music because I like to make it—I like to listen to music. It is my music, so it is good music. It is Music.” I improve so fast that now it’s hard for me to hold on to anything for more than a couple months, so music was sort of my realization that when I start something I have to finish it or abandon it.

For someone as embedded in internet meme culture as you are, Music—and really all of your solo music—is jarringly confessional in terms of how you address themes of mental health, queer identity and heartbreak while still maintaining a tinge of online irony. Can you speak to how you see the internet and memes informing your music and how you navigate this intersection of humor and authenticity?

I’m just very myself in everything I do. I don’t think very hard at all about how my tone or level of seriousness is interpreted by others when I’m only thinking about being myself, and that’s what I try to do in all my art and also in posting. The times I struggle most with art are when I’m worrying about who will like it. I also say this knowing it’s *way* easier said than done, so don’t stress if you can’t break out of that insecurity immediately. It takes time to find out who you want to be, but when you find something that feels right go get it!

Not all of your work is as serious though as “Thos Moser” is not only one of the best songs of the year but also one of the most hilarious. From references to NYU students breaking floors to the famous “Check like Caroline Pola-,” I’m dying to know what the process of making and writing this song was like?

Gupi and I did something really horrible at a Taco Bell on Halloween, then we went back to my place [and] he played me this house beat he had finished the night before. We just got really crossfaded, and I started freestyling lyrics until we had enough for the song.

Can you tell me a bit about your transition from your hometown, Boston, to Chicago? What drew you to this city when so many of your contemporaries seem to flock in LA or NYC?

People are way nicer in Chicago. The train is 24 hours and free for students. Everything is cheaper, and they have lots of Taco Bell. My college is here—it is SAIC—[and] I love my school. [There are] also so many music friends [in Chicago], and my partner who is cute live[s] here. The main reason was my school, but it just so happened that I was embraced by a lot of really sweet people in the Chicago scene who had been liking my music. Literally so sick! This community I got glomped into allowed me to explore every part of myself—sound, potential, queerness, etc.—even further, and I’m so thankful for the growth I’m able to do in da big ol Chago!! All I did in Boston for fun was smoke weed or go to New York, honestly!

Re: your contemporaries—which include Umru, Dylan Brady, Laura Les and Gupi, among others. Can you speak to how you found yourself in this circle of friends?

Being able to do things with these people is crazy because I had literally been stanning Laura and Dylan on SoundCloud forever. The Dylan Brady All I Ever Wanted trap album was my sad music in high school. Not to be a hipster, but I listened to 100 gecs before it was cool. They’re all *so* nice. They have like followers, but also they’re people. I think we should be nice to people even if they don’t have a lot of followers.

As much solo music as you’ve come out with this year, you’ve also had so many collabs drop. What role does collaboration play in your process? Has COVID impacted this at all?

I’ve done all my collabs on the internet besides the stuff with Spencer the Gupi. We usually just send each other stuff on Dropbox through Discord or Twitter then usually have a call to talk about it. Online collaboration is the music of now. Send key, send BPM, send project file and send Stems! Collabs are super helpful to get out new Frax ideas I never would have done myself—like on “Dagger” or “CRASHTHECAR.” Those are definitely two examples of collabs forcing new, cool ways to think about music [for] me.

As for that hell-world shit, I’ve mostly just been quarantining with Gupi doing DJ streams and working on big music—and getting lots of app deliveries. We made a music video. That’s what has been going on, but that doesn’t mean quarantine does not suck. I miss Chicago; I miss my school and studio and bf. And I had a lot of cool shit planned, but it will be back soon.

One final question for you: Fortnite concert or Minecraft rave?

Minecraft. Let’s gooooo.

Keep up with Fraxiom on Instagram and Twitter, and listen at Bandcamp and SoundCloud.

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