frank ocean gayletter cover story
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frank ocean gayletter cover story

Frank Ocean is the latest notable figure to grace the front cover of GAYLETTER. For its 10th issue and cover story, the publication delves on a variety of topics with the talented and elusive musician, as fans eagerly await for new music from the star, following 2016’s LP Blonde.

Touching on subjects including the queer influences who have shaped him, to songwriting, dating apps, to what he wished he’d done when he met President Obama, read on for a few takeaways from the interview below, and for its entirety, head on over to GAYLETTER.

On addressing his privacy and being labeled as a recluse…

“I always thought that was a misconception. I think the whole idea of me as a recluse is absurd ’cause I’m in the streets like all the time. I’m outside all the time, I’m traveling the world all the time. It’s funny to me that that’s the perception, but I understand what people mean by it in this new paradigm.”

On his thoughts of how social media has exploded since he first started making music…

“I think the social media thing is kind of amped up. One could argue that people don’t actually get information more than half the time. They browse information. I don’t know if they really ingest it.”

GAYLETTER also points out that Frank Ocean has been busy lately, perhaps suggesting new music may be on the way. “Making things, a lot of time in the studio between here [New York] and L.A. I split my time,” Ocean said.

On his favorite TV shows…

Chef’s Table.. Handmaid’s Tale.. Grown-ish.. RuPaul’s Drag Race… But I don’t really keep up with it like I should.” Adding, “I’ll say this. Of all the talent shows on TV, that would be the most likely,” in reference to RuPaul’s Drag Race and for him to appear as a guest judge on.

On his interest in queer art and history…

“My interest in queer art began at home in New Orleans. Listening to Katey Red and Big Freedia at parties as a youth. It continued to grow as I got into photogragphy, from the photographs I see a lot of in magazines, like Alasdair [McLellan] and Collier to the other heads like Wolfgang [Tillmans], Walter Pfeiffer and Peter. I remember being really into Walter’s work because of his collages. At the time I was working on the magazine [Boys Don’t Cry], and I was interested in that kind of layout.

My time in London was when I really started not just my own photography work but working alongside or commissioning a lot of other photographers to work on things for the magazine. Anytime you’re working in that space, around a lot of artists, they’re showing you what moves them, what formed their voice over time. And it’s that ritual of sharing that puts you on a whole bunch of other shit you’ve never seen.”

On making his Boys Don’t Cry magazine

“It [took] a couple of years for sure. There were a lot of on-location things, from Mississippi to China to Berlin, New York, Japan, Senegal. So many places. The opportunity to work with Ren Hang before he passed away, sadly. Going out to China for that.

It was at the same time the records [Endless and Blonde] were being worked on, and in the same timeframe I was trying to close out this label situation I had going on. And also my Apple deal, which all eventually happened. Some of those things — particularly the Universal thing [Universal owns Def Jam, his former label] — was taking forever. So we kept working on the magazine with everyone, all the graphic designers, all the photographers, the illustrators, the art directors, stylists and makeup artists, all their agents — love them too. [Laughs] I was so high-strung over the record and all the business shit around it, the magazine was a reprieve. It stopped me from feeling like my life was on pause because of those things. It made me feel like my life was very much being fully experienced.”

On dealing with music business and defining his priorities…

“Well, f*cking with major music companies, you’re going to be…deflowered. Anytime you get into the business side of the arts, there has to be some degree of objectification or commodification that you’re comfortable with, of yourself and of your work…

For me, it’s about Why am I doing this? What exactly do I want from this? And how do I get those specific things I want out of this? And what does success look like on those terms? And what does failure look like on those terms? That’s how I think about it now.”

On how he likes to write music…

“After doing it for a long time, I can kind of work myself up into that place just off the excitement of the song, even if I’m on my own… Or just really being hyped off saying something I want to say, or a melody idea I want to get off. I can get hyped, but there’s something really special that I always noticed about doing it in front of a peer or, you know, for folks. It’s a little more risky; it’s like, Oh shit, what if I make a fool of myself? I gotta be on point.”

On what he wished he’d done when he met President Obama…

“I mean, that’s a great A1 moment, but there’s so many of those and so many that were more subtle. So I would definitely tell myself to ham it up and take more photos and try to take in what’s going on around you.”

On dating apps…

“I don’t use dating apps. I’ve been in a relationship for three years. I definitely wasn’t using dating apps before then. I don’t think I would use dating apps now.”

On addressing his true height, which is very important to him…

“Well, my Wikipedia says I’m 5’10”, but I’m 6’1”, so listen, we have to correct the kids on my height. [Laughs] It’s really affecting my future, blocking my shine.”

Once more, head on over to GAYLETTER for the entire story.

Words by Renz Ofiaza
Staff Writer

scribbling by day, architect by night