In Conversation With: Frya
An exciting name to watch in 2022, Frya is the emerging songstress known for her honeyed vocals and sensuous melodies. Born in Zimbabwe, the South Africa-based musician grew up around music in every aspect of her life. She found her footing with the release of songs like “Sammy Sosa” and “Roses” which was shortly followed by a brief hiatus that saw Frya back and better than ever. Fast forward to 2021, she was hand-picked for the soundtrack of Netflix’s hit series Blood & Water, which further catapulted her into semi-stardom.
Frya’s 2022 kicked off with the release of her debut album, Balance. The 11-song offing finds the songstress tackling subjects such as heartbreak, self-realization, and love head-on. Previously released records like “Changes and “Back It Up,” arguably two of her strongest records to date, appear on the album as well. “The album is a perfect balance of who I am: tough, sassy, soft, bold, vulnerable and the music expresses that,” she emphasizes. Through the project, Frya formally introduces herself to not only her hometown, but a global audience as well.
We spoke with Frya about her Zimbabwean heritage, creating music for Netflix’s Blood & Water, her debut project, and much more. Read on for more!
Congratulations on the recent release of your debut album Balance. What made the fitting for the release of your first full-length project?
I named it Balance because I found myself through the process of working on this project. I found balance in a sense of having to accept all of the qualities that make me who I am and all of those aspects work together in a delicate balance. When you listen to different soundscapes, it makes you balanced in your music because your inspirations, mentors, and whoever you look up to play a big part in the sounds that you’re hearing in my work.
Even if you look at the album cover, it was so important to have those three big rocks with me on the center to signify that balance. Those three boulders represent R&B and Soul, Afrobeats, and Reggae and Dancehall. You hear all those three core elements in the music.
What’s your creative process been while putting together the body of work and when did you originally start working on it?
I started working on it in 2020 and it wasn’t actually clear that I was working on music. I just kept my head down and went to the studio to work, and I was blessed enough to work with three incredible producers that helped me. I worked with GRAMMY Award-winning producer Andre Harris, Mr Kamera, and GT Beats. I was exposed to great producers who do really well in their respective fields.
For example, “Chandelier” is different because it’s got an R&B vibe and Andre is really great at that. Then you’ll hear songs like “Calculate” or “Fall on Me,” and those are more of Afrobeats and that’s what Mr Kamera is good at. With songs like “Pretty Girls,” that’s what GT Beats is great at. So I managed to work with experts in their field and they were all able to pull out different aspects of me. Given that I wrote everything myself, it’s something that I’m really proud of.
A frequent name that appears throughout the project is Mr Kamera, talk to me about how that relationship has developed since you two first met.
Mr Kamera is more than anything like a friend or a brother. We met way before we even started working together and one day he told me to come to the studio, and the first song we created was “Sammy Sosa.” That did really well and for this specific project, I packed a backpack, and I would literally wake up and make music for a week straight. We made about eight or nine records and I think five of those made it on the album.
He appears as the co-artist on them and it wasn’t because he did anything vocally or writing-wise, but I really wanted to respect him that sense because he spent so much energy and time working on my music. I feel like a lot of producers don’t get much respect from artists, but you can’t have a great song with wack production.
Speaking of, you two got to create the theme song for Netflix’s original series Blood & Water—what was that experience like?
It was so cool because when you’re friends with someone you’re working with, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like fun and the bonus is we obviously get to get paid from it and there’s exposure, but at the core of it, it’s really fun. They had reached out because I had been doing a lot of theme songs for television locally in South Africa and naturally, I gravitated towards Kamera because we have such a great work history. I’m so happy they were supportive of the album as well; they placed half of the album in season two of the show which is unheard of. It’s a blessing!
I’m curious, how have your Zimbabwe roots influenced your versatile music style?
In my childhood, I never really stayed in one place. My dad worked for an NGO called Save The Children so there was a lot of travel and I think that helped shaped my perspective and the sounds that I bring out because different places play different music. You might not pick up on the words, but you pick up the tone and the energy. All of those things were piling up inside of me and now that I’m doing music, it’s all of coming out.
Are there any other creative avenues you’ve dreamed of diving into beyond music?
I really like painting, I’m no Van Gogh or anything but I can paint a tree. I want to do a soundscape but visually with art one day. There are different colors associated with music so maybe I can tap into that. I also do a lot of poetry and writing so I’ve been working on a little poetry book. I think all of those things, and even fashion, I’m really into fashion. I think with time and collaboration, I’m sure I’m going to meet like-minded people and do work.
With that being said, who are some of your past and present influences?
Nina Simone, Amy Whinehouse, Wizkid, Rihanna, and Kanye West. Those are my top five.
With Balance in the rearview, what are your goals for this year?
My goals for this year and what I want to accomplish more than anything is to get my music out to as many people as possible. I want to connect with people, that’s my biggest priority. What’s interesting is once I released “Changes,” I received so many DMs from people who experienced loss during COVID, and that in itself was the success of everything. To connect and help everyone feel.
This year, I’m going to put out collaborative projects and work with more artists. Those are the vibes!
Elsewhere in music, we chat with Norwegian artist Gundelach about his new EP, songwriting, and more!