Listen: Frank Ocean talks dropping 'Channel Orange' early and his tour
Why recording in Beverly Hills was fun, but not necessarily productive
Frank Ocean planned all along to drop “Channel Orange” a week early digitally. Or so he told Zane Lowe at BBC Radio 1 in an interview that aired today.
“[I wanted to] let the music speak for itself for a second and not be in a situation where the record leaked. It was always my plan to drop it ahead of time,” the Odd Future member said of his solo set.. He added that he mirrored his plan on what his buddies Kanye West and Jay-Z did with “Watch The Throne,” which also came out digitally prior to its physical release.
In this digital age of cherry-picking tracks, Ocean says he made a work with the intent that the album be listened to from start to finish: “I hate to sound selfish, but that’s for my own personal enjoyment also,”he says. “That’s a big thing for me to make things sound cohesive and follow through.”
Noting how expensive studio time can be, Ocean recorded a number of the tracks in a rented house in Beverly Hills, bringing in any equipment he needed. He added that he definitely spent a little more time in the house’s pool and sauna than his label approved of, but that it still saved money.
His overarching goals in making “Channel Orange” were “to do things that I hadn’t done before structurally with songs and I wanted to go places sonically where I hadn’t gone before...I tried to just make something true to what I heard in my head and true to what I thought the future should be to me music wise.”
As Ocean heads out on his own tour starting tonight in Seattle, he noted that he may not be the road dog that other artists are, preferring quality over quantity: “I want to give the best show possible where I can to put myself in position to do my best,” he says. “If that means a lesser volume of appearances, so be it.” However, he’s got a pretty full plate coming up. Following his headlining U.S. gigs, he’ll switch to opening for Coldplay on the British group’s stadium swing in August and September.
Lowe doesn’t address Ocean’s recent letter about his past love affair with a man, but they cover some other interesting territory and Ocean sounds genial and relaxed throughout.
“Channel Orange” has sold well enough in its first week of digital only release that it is on target to debut at No. 2 on next week’s Billboard 200 album chart. Target has already announced that it will not carry the album. Though some groups have accused the mass marketer of homophobia, the chain said in a statement that it was not selling the title because of the digital exclusive.
Neither Katie Hasty or I have had time to write up a proper review of “Channel Orange,” but it is an excellent, often searing, album that manages to sound retro and progressive at the same time. Fans of artists like D’Angelo and Outkast will appreciate how Ocean similarly incorporates many different musical genres, while staying primarily within the R&B field.
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