This year, Paris-born, Berlin-based producer and DJ Hermione "rRoxymore" Frank will be traveling the globe with Ballantine's whisky and Boiler Room to visit São Paulo, Brazil to share her wild and truly eclectic record bag and collaborate with local artists. The rest of the project will also see a different producer or artist travel to Moscow, Valencia and Beirut to do the same.
Despite the jazzy freeness and rich, organic textures of her music, she admits this will be a new prospect for her. She shouldn't be too daunted, however. Before producing her own music, Frank played in several bands and frequently collaborated with musicians in the studio. Still, these were musicians she was familiar with, working with instruments she knew, playing music she was prepared for. This time round, she'll be relying on her improvisational skills and her ability to adapt.
In just over five years of releases, rRoxymore's sound has evolved and progressed, often dramatically between records. For example, Thoughts Of An Introvert Pt. 1 was almost incomparable to the previous year's Organ Smith EP, which itself was different to anything that had come before it. Her influences range from Baile funk to trip-hop to jazz. Each new release is a surprise and her upcoming global collaborations will no doubt prove to be just as impossible to predict.
Ahead of the project, we caught up with Frank to discuss the trips, her connection to Bristol, and why ascribing any genre to her music is pointless, especially techno.
Basic questions first, where does the name rRoxymore come from and what's with the lower case 'r'?
Actually, it started as a play on oxymoron. In French it's 'oxymore' so then I added an 'R' but everyone started calling me Roxy so I added another 'r'... but they're still calling me Roxy!
What was your musical upbringing like? Were your parents very musical?
My father was, definitely. He was friends with a lot of jazz musicians so there was always a lot of jazz playing in the house.
Was jazz your first love, musically?
It was, but by inheritance, I guess. Jazz has always been present in my life. That and electronic music when I was a teenager. But yeah, jazz was my first love. I've never been into rock music or anything like that.
When did you start creating music? Were your parents encouraging?
[laughs] Not really. As for how I started, it came naturally. I'd started to DJ some years ago and I had a good friend who had a home studio. He was producing more like hip-hop and stuff like that, but he started showing me the ropes with some basic equipment and that was it.
What do your parents think of your music now?
Oh, now they really like it. They're really supportive. I'm really lucky, not everyone has that.
Was there a particular moment that won them over?
Well, I was touring for a while with bands so I'd been a professional for a while. Music's always been my life. There wasn't really one moment it was just they came around gradually after a while. I'd been doing it for a while anyway so they had to get used to it!
And when did you realise this was a full-time thing?
It actually took me a little while before I realised I really wanted to do this. Also, I'd have the odd project going on here and there but I wasn't really developing as much as I would have liked. I was playing with few bands for a while and then I had some time out where I wasn't really involved in anything, and I was missing it. So I had to bring it back into my life. I started to tour again and I decided this time to really focus on my own project which was vital for me to do.
Did you enjoy the freedom of going from working with bands to essentially being solo?
I mean, yes, but it's also quite freeing to work with bands because you don't have any responsibilities! You just have to do what you're meant to do. I don't know, it's two different things. I have a bit more freedom now but it's also a lot more weight on my shoulders. It's two different things, though. I like both. Working with other people has given me a lot of experience. Touring, collaborating, it's given me a lot.
Were there any big lessons that you've learned while working and touring with other artists?
It's sounds obvious, but you have to be open. You have to be open to whatever may come up, either on tour or meeting people. That's it, really.
So when you're preparing for a DJ set, how much of it do you plan and how much is improvised?
I would say it's half and half. I rarely prepare a full set, but I'll play music that I've been playing lately. I'll always select some tracks that I know I'll want to play but it also depends on the vibe. I mean, if it's a small room it's not like a big club thing I'm not going to be banging like I would be at 5am. There are some tracks I like that I'll be playing. For example, lately I've been playing a lot of Bristol stuff, a lot of grime, some footwork, a lot of bass stuff.
Are you still working with the Don't Be Afraid crew in Bristol?
Yeah, totally. They're my main label. I work with a lot of different labels, but right now, they're my number one. That's where I'm releasing the most. I have another EP coming out over the summer, maybe a full-length, I don't know. That will be coming out with them. It's very easy to work with Benji [founder, Benjamin Roth], I like him.
Obviously there's a big jazz element to your music, but I also hear hints of the fabled 'Bristol sound'. Is that a big influence on you or just a coincidence?
[laughs] Trip-hop? For sure! I listen to a lot of that stuff. It's funny that you this. But also I'm getting a lot more influenced by the Bristol scene as it is now. I really like it. I think it's very vivid. Even though I don't like the word 'techno' (it's very restrictive), the influence of that is something I really like right now. It's kind of a mix of the two worlds of trip-hop and techno.
It's funny you say that, I often see you described as techno but I don't really see it. How would you describe your music?
You see that a lot? About me? I don't think I'm techno at all! I don't know, whatever. It's easy for them to label me techno, I guess. That's something for you, the journalists. I've never really been able to label things, myself. I don't feel techno at all, especially nowadays where techno is so restrictive. If it was techno from 1992, then sure, I would be techno then. But techno in 2018? No, I'm not. At least I don't think so. I guess I'm kind of in the middle. I don't really want to be pigeonholed into one genre. That's always been my quest in my work. I like techno to dance to but I don't want to play only techno. I like house music, I like dub, I like jazz, a lot of stuff. So no, it's too limited to say that I am techno. I don't know why they said that. If it's easier for them then whatever.
So how did you get involved with Ballantine's True Music project? Was it just a case of answering the right email?
[laughs] I mean, they approached me and I was like 'why not?' It sounds like a very big project, but for me, I really like the idea of working with musicians, especially if it's outside of Europe. It's giving me the chance to go to São Paulo. I've been to Brazil a few times and, as a culture, it's amazing. I love all the music they play over there. Especially, back then, Tropicalia, Baile Funk, and all of that. So for me, it's a really amazing project so I'm really happy to have been selected. I'm really looking forward to going there and start these collaborations.
What have you got coming up this year?
There's the EP with Don't Be Afraid. I've also been asked to be a part of two different compilations. Once is for Derré Tidá and the other is for Modeselektor, they've asked for a specific track which is cool.
Longer term, what are your music career goals?
Not really, just to be able to keep doing what I like.