ARTIST FEATURE: FOXFRD

The Cultural Reset shifts its sights to musical artist and digital animator, FOXFRD. Opening up about his creative process, FOXFRD discusses his unique approach to songwriting and storytelling through both a musical and animated medium. FOXFRD reflects on the barriers he has overcome, both in becoming a lead animator and as a music creator, and the full scope of his creative journey while providing his advice for creatives looking to succeed in the music space.

 

Image: FOXFRD

 

Where/when did your individual creative journey begin?


I’ve been creative all my life. But the direction of my creativity has progressively changed. When I was young, I would channel that creativity into my love for video games; seeing that type of content expanded my creative mind from a very young age. My love for animation and music gradually developed from there and now, I can easily call them my two greatest passions.


Tell us the story of how you became a musician/artist?


My story started when I began playing the alto-saxophone in Memphis, TN. I had built a strong understanding of music in middle school and had experienced many different genres including Jazz, R&B, Classical and more. Eventually, I would dabble with a variety of different instruments and as I got older, I would start practicing on my friends’ guitars. I started playing the drums, piano, bass, etc. Now, I use my knowledge of instruments for music production. And also being an animator, I think it’s safe to say that I’m a jack of all trades. All of my creative interests started as a hobby and would soon become serious career pursuits.


Tell us about your artistry? What would you say is your mission with your art? And who are your influences (message/music style)?


My art is a true combination of all of my creative interests in one. Foxfrd combines my passion for video games, Hip Hop and alternative melodies and brings these things to life through a 3D character who tells my story through song. The unique combination of my interests provides fans with an all-encompassing experience. Through art, my mission is to inspire more artists like me who are thinking of taking on something grand and ambitious all by themselves. The task feels daunting, but the outcome is so rewarding. I want to inspire others to trust in their authenticity rather than feel like they have to create the next catchy trend in order to impress the people around them. As a multimedia artist, I can easily say that Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover is one of my biggest influences. As an actor, musician and director, he also wears many hats and I respect that he’s been able to channel his creativity into a variety of interests.


Can you speak on your process when creating projects? When do you feel most inspired?


The creative process for Foxfrd always starts with a beat. I will typically sit in Ableton and will scan libraries of instrumentals until I feel inspired, in which case - I will bring in some instruments like piano or guitar to incorporate a melody that I can loop and write lyrics to.

For this upcoming EP, I collaborated with Yaron Fuchs and his team. Yaron’s team deconstructs my beats and expands them to a greater level by adding intricacies and ear candy played by industry-pushing musicians. While this is happening, I switch gears to focus on the visual aesthetic + the story behind the music video. Listening to the music on repeat, I close my eyes and imagine what the setting for the video should be. Once I have an idea in place, I begin pre-production or research for the aesthetic I want to achieve. This means finding reference photos of environments, organizing where my 3D assets are coming from, making sketches of characters and scenes and then learning any basics I need for new skills and programs. Once the pre-production is complete, I start by building the environment or the set. After the environment is present, I switch to character and camera animation. Once animation is polished, I combine the environment and animation together and then I move to creating detailed lighting. After lighting is rendering and the final step of the process is to combine the audio master with the renders before making any final beautification tweaks. That is the complete process for making one music video. I feel the most inspired when I’m in the phase of listening to my music and imagining the visuals that should pair with the song. When I’m doing this, I’m essentially lucid dreaming which prompts me to start sketching so that I can take my song to the next level.

"...I have experienced limitations in every career pursuit due to being a person of color."

Tell us about your latest release Where Are All My Friends? What was your artistic process for creating this piece?


“Where Are All My Friends” is a true story about being lonely and vulnerable. I wrote the track when I first moved to LA and was struggling to make genuine connections with people. The song started with a very somber piano sample and it was the first time I had ever introduced a key change to one of my songs. I knew that I wanted to write a ballad that included three separate acts for visual inspiration. I reflected on why I felt alone in Los Angeles; was it me or the people around me? After playing around with different samples and moods, I started pouring my heart into the song's unique melody and “Where Are All My Friends” was born.


Is there anything about the industry you’d want to change as you progress in your career? Tell us about some experiences you overcame.


The music industry itself has always felt a little bureaucratic. Instead of celebrating originality, artists feel a pressure to fit into a sound that is currently ‘cool’ or ‘trendy’. It takes a lot of effort for artists who produce unique, original music to be heard. At the end of the day, I think paving a unique path or being a leader will ultimately lead to a more fulfilling creative career.


 

Image: FOXFRD

 

Have you ever experienced limitations in your career (as a musician) due to being a POC?

For instance, in the gaming industry, the position of ‘lead animator’ is at the top of

the ladder for animation.


Yes and in fact, I have experienced limitations in every career pursuit due to being a person of color. For instance, in the gaming industry, the position of ‘lead animator’ is at the top of

the ladder for animation. I personally jumped to lead animator a lot more quickly than average (sometimes this can take someone multiple years). But I had to prove that I could lead with less experience. Eventually, I noticed that I was being paid severely less than my colleagues and I still, to this day, struggle to be compensated fairly. Because of this, I wanted to create a world where I could exist as my own entity. As Foxfrd, I call the shots; I don’t blame anybody but myself for things going wrong and all I need to do in order to get to where I need to be is work harder and smarter so that I reach all of my creative goals. When I am Foxfrd, I am the one who is in control.


Are there any insufficiencies or injustices in the music industry that you’d like to see rectified?


I definitely think that independent artists should be supported more. Oftentimes, when artists get scooped up by labels, they end up having to conform to a sound that is ‘trending’ at the moment. But being independent allows creativity to truly shine because artists aren’t being told what to do and instead, are celebrating for their originality. The frustrating thing is that independent artists don’t get the proper push that artists under labels will get. It’s rare that they’ll even be considered for the Billboard charts without a machine behind them. There is a lot of great music out there that will inspire people to think differently, but unfortunately what’s popular is all that people are exposed to.


What are some upcoming projects you are working on? When can we expect them? Where can we stream them?


I have so much in the works! But unfortunately, I have too many NDA’s in circulation to give any hints at this time. The best way to stay up to date on new music is to follow me on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/foxfrd/.



What advice would you give to aspiring creatives looking to break into the music industry?


Be original! Originality lasts and it’s more likely to give someone with tired ears the inspiration to keep listening. Don’t feel pressured to sound like what everybody else sounds like. Because why would they listen to your music when they can listen to a bigger, more highly produced version? Be yourself and be patient with your growth. It takes a long time to grow a following, especially if you want to remain independent. Just breathe and live your life because your life experience is ultimately what feeds your art.

 

Connect with FOXFRD:

Website

Instagram

Twitter


Stream FOXFRD:

Spotify

Apple Music

Youtube

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