Frank Ocean rarely gives interviews and his W Magazine feature was as surprising, thoughtful, and as occasionally mystifying as you’d expect from the enigmatic artist.
The interview is peppered with the kinds of tidbits that keep Ocean fan’s fascinated between social media hiatuses and the often lengthy stretches between new projects. For example, the 31-year-old singer-songwriter is working on “doing four underwater laps in the pool” and is reconsidering his long-held belief in the idea of “strength in vulnerability.”
Each of his answers is as refreshing and unexpected as the next. Browse some of his best responses below.
On his fashion obsessions
I was feeling how Keanu Reeves looked in The Devil’s Advocate. He would wear a sports coat and tie with a button-collar Oxford sort of deal—the best hair, and the light-wash denims and the belt that matched the shoes.
On his uniform
I start with the shape and then I just slot in the pieces, so I get that shape and go about my day.
The expectation for artists to be vulnerable and truthful is a lot, you know?—when it’s no longer a choice. Like, in order for me to satisfy expectations, there needs to be an outpouring of my heart or my experiences in a very truthful, vulnerable way. I’m more interested in lies than that. Like, give me a full motion-picture fantasy.
On keeping projects under wraps
There’s something that happens when you say what you’re doing before it’s done, and most of it is not positive. You’re accountable for that version that you talk about, when it very well may undergo change. It’s usually better for me to make what I make, put it out or don’t, and then talk about it freely.
On the shift from Channel Orange to Blonde
I feel like from Channel Orange to Blonde was a big jump for me in terms of not just the way things sounded but the way things looked and were glued together. I’m not speaking only to the creative part of it, but to executing a strategy that took a lot of balls.
On new directions
I’ve been interested in club, and the many different iterations of nightlife for music and songs. And so the things I look at now have a lot to do with those scenes: Detroit, Chicago, techno, house, French electronic… I think for a while I’d like to get away from work that’s solitary by nature. I’ve never been in a band or had a songwriting partner or been with a group…I’ve been trying to make time to do more of that sort of thing, and be in spaces where I’m not the expert.
On rapping with A$AP Rocky
I remember doing the “Raf” verses… He said, “Man, you rappin’ like it’s 2003.” And I was just like, “Oh, shit!” I understood why he was saying it, because the flow was more complicated. I thought, All right, we want the bouncy today thing.
On keeping his music offline
I’m working with a string arranger right now in Rio, and every time we go back and forth, because I don’t put things on the Internet, I have to send a drive with someone to Rio, or I have to go myself.
Ocean recently penned the foreword to A24’s limited-edition ‘Moonlight’ book by Barry Jenkins.
On this week’s episode of The Dropcast, we are joined by the Patta dons Edson Sabajo and Guillaume Schmidt who are marking the Dutch brand’s 15th anniversary with historical milestones.