Like many modern sagas, the story of FRND begins anonymously online…
Represented by only a fuzzy animated koala bear, the debut single “Friend” from the mystery singer, producer, and creator landed on the net in late 2016. With its delicate fusion of acoustic guitars, danceable production, and emotive lyrics, the track caught fire. (Musically, think John Hughes directing a Despicable Me sequel soundtracked by The Postal Service remixing Jimmy Eat World, and you’re halfway there). Appearing on Spotify’s coveted New Music Friday playlist, the song organically went #1 on Hype Machine bolstered by the support of influential channels such as Suicide Sheep. “Sticks and Stones” continued this hot streak before “Substitute” kicked off 2017 by ushering the total stream tally past the 16-million mark. As they praised the music, Billboard, Crave, Baeble, Earmilk, Substream, Run The Trap, Dancing Astronaut, and more wondered who the hell was behind that koala! While everyone pondered and religiously listened along, FRND buttoned up the debut EP, In Your Dreams [Crooked Paintings] before ever formally hitting the stage.
In a day and age where we know everything and more about our favorite musicians, the koala held all the cards.
“I chose the koala as the symbol for this outlet,” says FRND. “It’s almost like an alter ego who represents a version of myself. A couple of days after I wrote the first song, I saw a picture of a koala. They’re very calm animals, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. That’s how I was feeling. They might be chill on the outside, but there’s a lot of emotion. It embodies this journey I’m going through on the EP.”
That journey appropriately began with “Friend.” A little “emo” and a little “electronic,” it felt far too real for the song’s architect to pass along to another voice, so he took advantage of “this outlet to make emotionally driven songs that other people might be afraid to say or a little too personal to discuss.” That carries through “Substitute,” which explores the vexing nature of the “friend zone” with a plea, “He don’t understand you like I do.” The delicate finger-picking of “Be Happy” spirals into sputtering synths as our heroic koala struts through a technicolor world in the video with a message about “finally moving on.”
Two previously unreleased tracks—“Soap” and “Movies”—bookend In Your Dreams. The resonant keys of “Soap” cycle through an ethereal backdrop punctuated by finger-snaps and an undeniable refrain urging to scrub away the remains of a relationship. The widescreen production, unexpected drop, and vivid lyrics of “Movies” project a lovelorn narrative, “It’s not like the movies. This is way more real. It’s not how I imagined the way I would feel.”
“I’m looking back on a relationship, and it’s playing in my head like a movie,” admits FRND. “It never turns out how you would expect it. I wanted to capture that.”
After listening to In Your Dreams top-to-bottom, it’s not surprising the man behind the curtain is none other than multiplatinum-selling songwriter and producer Andrew Goldstein. However, he and the koala remain two sides of one dynamic whole, officially welcoming listeners into the world of FRND now.
“FRND is really this emotional place you don’t think you’re capable of going until you actually get there,” he leaves off. “Once you experience it for yourself, you realize how much of life is driven by emotion versus thinking logistically. FRND is that side you don’t always put out there or show everyone, but it comes out. Once you navigate through it, you get to the next level. That’s what happened for me. I called the project In Your Dreams, because I dreamt about some of these songs over and over again. It was an emotional awakening that I didn’t feel until I had the experience that I did. I want to share this meaningful connection with everyone.”