Franky Wah Talks New Mixtape, Downtempo Side Project, Stage Visuals

Oct 26, 2022

John Cameron

4 min read

Within one year, Franky Wah released two collaborations with none other than dance music titan Carl Cox. It’s sounding like a third could be on the way—but amazingly, that’s far from the biggest recent development in the Yorkshire, UK artist’s career.

That’s not to say he takes the opportunity lightly. “It's not every day you get to work with someone whom you’ve genuinely looked up to throughout your career, and before you even started it,” he says during a Zoom call with Gray Area. “To be able to work with and admire him on a professional level and know him on a personal level are two totally different things. And he is a legend in both aspects.”

Franky famously pursued a career as a footballer, and later a bodybuilder, only to transition into full-time work as a dance music DJ and producer. His early releases leaned more towards tech house, but starting with his 2019 single “Get Me High” he began to favor a melodic sound that better reflected who he was as an artist.

“I'm definitely not ashamed of the records I put out,” Franky says of his output prior to that turning point. “But what I will say that I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't feel them. I know it might sound a bit cheesy, but you need to feel every record that you're putting out.”

He’s certainly not the only one feeling his newer work. In addition to Cox, Franky has collaborated with the likes of Sasha, Pete Tong, Lee Foss, and Christoph. He also now runs a record label called SHÉN whose sound encompasses everything from Balearic breakbeat to Afro-tech to progressive house. The imprint’s upcoming compilation, This is SHÉN, comprises 27 individual tracks that also come as a continuous mix. They have received early support from artists like Hot Since 82, Adriatique, Massano, and Caiiro.

That’s not all Franky has in the works. After five years in the making, he’s gearing up for the release of Anywhere but Here, the artist album for his downtempo side project. Franky calls it “proper thinking music” inspired by the likes of Fred Again, Four Tet, and Caribou.

But make no mistake: the effort will still be a Franky Wah release. “Ultimately, you think of any side project that you've ever heard of and you always associate it with the name that you knew them for anyway,” he says. “So I just think you may as well do it under your name, but maybe address it differently.”

Perhaps the biggest thing out on Franky’s horizon isn’t technically music at all, but something to accompany it.

“I'm working on a visual aspect to my show now, to my DJ set—I'm talking to the level of [Eric] Prydz,” he says. “That's where I want to take it. “It's a lot of back and forth with the design team, but this is a very strong concept and story. It's not just strong visuals. There's actually a story and a journey.”

Franky isn’t willing to say much more about his upcoming stage show, only that it’s definitely happening. “We've got two amazing venues and two great dates secured for the launch event next year,” he says. “And there are already international shows scheduled for it—not just in the UK.”

Our conversation makes it clear: Things aren’t about to slow down for Franky Wah anytime soon. Only time will tell what projects he’ll be ready to discuss the next time he finds the time to speak to Gray Area.

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