New York-based performer Frankie Z is rapidly distinguishing himself as one to watch in the pop music world. Armed with some sweetly addictive pop hooks and some tightly oiled choreographed routines, Frankie has some big ambitions as a professional performer. He claims that he'll know he's made it once he plays a sold out show at New York's Madison Garden, and he's more than got the skills to make that happen!
Earlier this summer, Frankie Z joined nine other rising talents in the music world and toured North America with Johnny Wright’s Pop Nation Tour. Frankie and his fellow acts took their show on the road, having a great time while performing for fans in cities such as his hometown New York City and Los Angeles! Talk about the perfect way to spend your summer!
PopWrapped had the opportunity to chat with Frankie when the tour stopped in Cleveland, and we got filled in on all things Frankie Z! We chatted with the talented performer about his experiences on the road with the Pop Nation Tour, his plans for the future, how to keep a show entertaining in the era of YouTube, choreography, and so much more!
Joining such a large tour may seem a little daunting, but Frankie Z had the benefit of several familiar faces in the Pop Nation Tour lineup. “I knew The Bomb Digz; I did some shows with them a couple years ago,” he said.
Since then, Frankie Z and the rest of the Pop Nation Tour have become very close: “As the tour goes on, we really know each other a lot more. I feel like I’ve known everyone for a year. We spend so much time together that it’s going to be weird when it’s done.” This family atmosphere helped make things even more fun while on the road, a feeling that is vastly evident as a fan in the audience!
One of the best things about such a high profile show is that Frankie Z has had the opportunity to interact with many of his biggest fans throughout the tour. Many of Frankie’s fans have been following the musician since his earliest years on the scene, and he always loves to interact with them: “It’s really exciting to meet people that you’ve spoken to on Twitter, Instagram, and all that. It’s nice to meet them face to face for a new interaction.”
Those interactions will play a large part in the development of Frankie’s show, as he tends to feed off of the energy from the crowd once he hits the stage. There is nothing like a supportive crowd to lift a performer to the next level, especially when you’re performing a high energy set the likes of which Frankie Z pulls off.
When it comes to his choreography, Frankie, who teaches the occasional dance class, like to get down. Armed with an arsenal of tight turns, athletic leaps, and liquid body rolls, Frankie Z oozes confidence whenever he hits the stage. He revealed that the staging for a show is usually the result of some self-choreography, but he also likes to work with a choreographer and director. “I like to be critiqued and to have someone else look at my work and guide me and push me further than I’d push myself,” he explained.
With such a dance-heavy performance ahead of him, Frankie Z needs to get his mind and body ready before hitting the stage: “I do a lot of jumping jacks and push ups before I go onstage, just to get my body warmed up.”
Afterwards, Frankie and his team get together for a quick prayer. If he is with his dancers, then they’ll get hyped up together, but if he’s taking the stage solo, he likes to take some time alone to get in the zone: “I like to get in my zone. It gives you that extra little pump of energy.”
Then, it is time for Frankie to hit the stage as the lights come up…
What most fans may not know is that, even with a tightly choreographed set, Frankie Z is all about that improvisation: “A lot of the time I’ll just go onstage, grab the mic, and go for the kill. It depends; I switch things up all the time.”
Switching things up in his show serves several purposes. First and foremost, it keeps him on his toes with the show. Performing the same steps night after night, week after week can get a little monotonous, but Frankie is committed to keeping the energy up for his fans on the road: “We’re getting toward the end of the tour now, and as it gets toward the end for me, I try to remind myself that these people don’t care that we’ve been performing for weeks. They have bought a ticket just like anyone else, so it’s important for me to give them the same feeling that I had on my first show.”
“You know, the first show is so exciting, because it’s the first time that I’m doing it too. It’s important to make every show feel that special," he added. "The best way to do that is to make every show your first time performing! Replace that double turn with a sweeping move across the floor, and you’ll be on your toes for sure!"
Another reason that Frankie Z likes to shake things up is that a show can become a little stagnant in the current era of YouTube that we are living in. As an artist who has been performing on a professional level for about eight years, Frankie Z has firsthand experience of the prevalence of fans hopping on social media before coming to a show: “It’s a different world, because everyone sees everything that you do.”
Nowadays, people can hop on YouTube and watch a full concert whenever they want to. Before they go and experience their show in real life, they’ve probably seen it from multiple angles on the screens of their phones and computers. We’ve all done it, including Frankie himself: “It’s a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing because the surprise and excitement is a little less, since people know what you’re going to do. It takes more to shock people and give the feeling of true entertainment, since a lot of people have already seen your performance.”
While it may get you even more pumped up to watch your favorite artist slay a live performance on YouTube, in a lot of ways it changes your experience with a live show. This is another reason why Frankie Z likes to mix things up onstage so frequently: “You can’t change it [the prevalence of YouTube spoilers], so you just work with it.” For Frankie, that means upping the ante during his shows.
“For me a show is about bringing people onto a journey or a trip and taking them to places where they forget where they are. It’s about taking them on a roller coaster. I try to change it up so it’s a little more special for that audience," he said.
One final element that can change Frankie’s live show is the venue. “It it’s more intimate, sometimes I won’t dance as much, and I’ll interact with the crowd more. The dancing sometimes can disconnect you from the show. With big stage shows with lighting and all that you really can put on a big show, because it’s meant to be that way.” Otherwise, Frankie likes to feel it out and give each audience the best show custom tailored to the vibes he is picking up while on the stage.
Ironically enough, Frankie Z admits that the smaller shows can be a bit more daunting. “When the show is smaller I get more nervous, because it’s more intimate. It’s like I’m all up in everyone’s faces,” he explained. As a true performer, though, Frankie puts all his worries to the background and allows his stage persona to take the lead. “I love to perform, and it’s exciting to become a new person. I transform myself and become the Frankie that people don’t see offstage.”
That Frankie Z who hops onstage is doing so much more than simply riding the waves of his performance. He is also reading the energy and vibes of fans across the room. This, and a sense of intuition, help him gauge exactly how well a performance is going. A super-involved audience doesn’t hurt either!
After an intense performance, Frankie Z is ready for a little breather: “Once I come off the stage I’m exhausted. After the show I’ll take a good ten minutes just to be by myself. I’ll dry myself off, because I’m normally soaked.”
Afterwards, it really depends on the day. Sometimes, Frankie heads back to the hotel for some much-needed rest, other times he is so amped up by his set that he wants to do it all again! That energy is a good thing, because the life of a popstar entails a lot of work from time to time…
Even though the Pop Nation Tour came to a close on August 15, with a sold out show in Los Angeles nonetheless, things haven’t slowed down for Frankie Z! “There is no break in this business; you gotta hustle if you want to make it,” Frankie pointed out, and he clearly isn’t afraid of putting in the hours for success.
The first project that he completed was a video for his new single “Popback,” a song Frankie performed onstage to a great fan reception. “We’ve got two days of rehearsals, then we’re shooting the video right after. It’s going to be amazing!” he said. The visual and official release of the single may be closer than any of us imagined, as Frankie’s been teasing it on social media accounts all throughout this month.
Following behind his single is a new EP, and the musician is planning on hitting up the studios while working on his video in Los Angeles: “I’m going back to the studio to keep recording, just to have some things to choose from.” Sounds like it is time for that Frankie Z reign to come upon us, and he is bringing pop back!
Regardless of the countless hours working in studios and on the road, Frankie Z clearly loves what he does, and he is ready to take things to the next level. “I’ve been doing this for almost eight years now. They say it takes ten years to make it, so I’m almost there,” he jokingly commented before heading off to serve something wicked onstage!
With his new single “Popback” and several other projects on the horizon, it seems that we are preparing to enter that time for Frankie Z! Keep up to date with his impending releases by following him on his official website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter!