(Editor’s Note: In his latest piece for Vehlinggo, screenwriter and film journalist Christopher Webster interviews Tanja Frinta of the eminently engaging Tokyo-based synth project Lomboy. They discuss the group’s new EP, among other things.)
“I have a bit of a nomadic lifestyle,” laughs Lomboy’s Tanja Frinta, when I ask her where she recorded her new EP, Warped Caress.
Turns out, the comment is something of an understatement. Her latest five-song EP was recorded in three of the hippest cities in the world — Paris, Brussels, and Tokyo.
“My base was Brussels until my band moved to Paris, so I ended up spending time there and some months in Tokyo, where I started to collaborate and record with some artists from here,” Frinta says. “Now I’m revisiting and have been recording more songs with Japanese musicians.”
Warped Caress, which releases on Feb. 16, is a striking departure from Lomboy’s first release, the breezy South Pacific. Gone is the playful 1960s vibe, its innocence replaced by something sexy and experienced.
I described the sound of the EP’s first single, “Loverboy,” as Sade by way of vaporwave, though I’m not sure Frinta’s totally convinced.
“I love the atmosphere of Sade and vaporwave, I can’t deny that! It’s an influence, but I’m careful not to commit myself to any genre,” she says. “I have very eclectic taste when it comes to music and enjoy to blend different styles.”
“If I had to point to one contemporary artist who has been a huge influence on my music, it probably would be Philippine musician Eyedress,” she said. “His songs are rough and have a pureness to them. He isn’t following any particular music style, though there are probably some preferences, like I have too. But there’s something very honest and personal in the way he expresses himself artistically.”
But influence is inevitable, no?
“Sure, but when you go for a certain aesthetic there’s a danger to become nostalgic and put things into the frame your mind has associated with it before; and while this is pleasing and reassuring in a way, and I do that, too, it’s nothing novel, because it doesn’t take any risks,” Frinta said.
“I’m careful not to commit myself to any genre.”
“The frame is the packaging,” she continued. “I certainly strive to bring forward certain aesthetics that I find appealing, which would be exotica space-age pop, ’70s/’80s French/Italian lounge, erotic movie soundtracks, or 90s bands like Saint Etienne, but it’s not so calculated.”
Some musicians are influenced by other mediums altogether. Certainly much of the synth movement is influence by cinema. Do movies or fine art make their way into Frinta’s music?
“The relationship between music and visual art is an interesting one,” she said. “When the visuals are wrong in the form of cover artwork or a videoclip, it can send out a wrong message. But when it’s right, it’s so powerful.”
“I spent a great deal of time preparing the video for ‘Loverboy’ with director Mateusz Bialecki,” she continued. “I think I’d be a good editor, not a great screenwriter, and a terrible actress, but finding the good people to work with is such a pleasure.”
Soon the conversation turns to gear. I was curious if Lomboy uses analogue gear to achieve their sumptuous sounds.
“I like working with textures,” Frinta says. “I spend hours tweaking sounds and play around with effects ’till I find something I’m happy with. I work in Ableton Live and the warp/pitch device is probably my favorite feature — not only for the voice but for all instruments. I would record a guitar and chop it up, stretch it, detune it — I blend samples, real instruments and digital, whatever works. An interesting mix is what I’m looking for.”
Lomboy is named after a tropical fruit. Frinta said she got the name from her cousin.
“My cousin is half Filipino, and when I was looking for a project name I asked her if she had any suggestions,” Frinta said. “She told me about the fruit tree that grows in the Philippines, and I liked the idea of the exotic fruit being at the root of it all.”
If you’re curious to see the Lomboy intercontinental team of musicians live, Frinta says they’ve got shows coming up mainly in France and a few European cities in 2018, so keep an eye on their Cracki artist page.