They have not released their debut album yet and they already became one of the biggest musical sensations of the last year in Estonia. Frankie Animal, because this is who we are talking about, is a young Estonian band, playing catchy indie-rock, that got most of the awards during the youth band competition Noortebänd 2012. Three guys and one girl. She – Marie M. Vaigla – a vocalist with amazing musical roots, hailed as Estonian Norah Jones. They – Jonas Kaarnamets (guitarist), Jan-Christopher Soovik (bass-player) and Karl Eerik Valkna (drummer) – musicians derived from different music genres who can create entrancing atmosphere in every song they play and who, for sure, will soon be here to stay on the biggest stages in the country and abroad.
Just like they shortly described themselves on their soundcloud profile: Frankie Animal is as sweet as freshly squeezed orange juice in the early morning. The band gives a refreshing sensation to all the listeners and makes them feel as if they were being chased by friendly wolves. We managed to catch these “friendly wolves” straight after their best concert so far, on December 29th 2012 when they supported their musical idols, the band Ewert and the Two Dragons, on their performance in Rock Café in Tallinn.
Zuzanna Brunka: How did it happen that you made the decision to form the band together?
Jonas: We all met about a year ago in the Georg Otsa nimeline Tallinna Muusikakool – the music school in Tallinn where we all were studying. Once Marie had an audition and she invited me to play the guitar for her. Well, of course we needed the bass-player, so we asked Jan…and that is basically the story of how the Frankie Animal started its career.
And what about the band’s name? I have to say I cannot associate it with anything else but your band. How did you come up with it? It is quite catchy.
Marie: Actually, when we had done our first gig, we had not had a name yet. But because of all the positive feedback we had got, we had to think of a name… and it was BRAINTEASER (laugh). We searched the dictionaries, books, etc. but we just could not find the right one. Then „Frankie Animal” just…came. Out of nowhere (laugh).
The fate seems to be by your side. First you all simply met at the music school, then the band’s name came to your heads just like that… Choosing the music genre you would play was also an easy decision?
Marie: Well, before Frankie Animal, Jonas and I had been doing some funky-pop music and we thought that we needed a change. We also listen to the kind of music we decided to play, that is, indie-rock.
Jonas: This is the music genre we all like… almost. (laugh). Jan is a heavy-metal guy. But I think we all enjoy what we do.These two, Jan and Karl, come from the heavier background…
Jan: from the band Blinking Lights…
Jonas: And it is quite rock-ish. Our band is kind of the middleway between the Blinking Lights and what Marie and I were doing.
Where do you get the inspiration to write your songs from? Most of the tracks you perform were composed by you.
Jonas: It just happens, you know. One day you listen to a song and the inspiration just comes… It hits your head like a lightball. Then you start fitting it together with the guitar and next thing you do is take what you wrote to the band’s rehearsal and that is how it happens.
Jan: Then we make it happen!
Do you have any musical authorities?
Marie: Oh, we hate that question…
Jan: Black Keys…
Jonas: Mumford and Sons…
Marie: Kings of Leon…
Jan: Bon Iver…
Marie: Led Zeppelin!
Jonas: Of course Ewert and the Two Dragons.
Jan: Possibly Ewert and the Two Dragons had the biggest influence on us.
Your music sounds quite similar indeed…
Marie: Well, we do not want that (laugh). It just… does.
And there is nothing bad with that. But maybe now let’s talk a bit about the Noortebänd contest. Why did you decide to take part in it and what has it changed?
Marie: Jan knows the answer. He got the contacts (laugh). Well, it was a good way to show our band to the wider audience.
Jonas: It is a great opportunity for the starting bands in Estonia. This is not the step you must take but it is certainly one of the choices you can make and if do well there, it opens a lot of doors, like it did for us.
So, what has changed since then?
Karl: I just realized that after we had got to the next round, we needed to do something bigger and make our live show more memorable to others. So, I think we developed and it was the next step forward for us playing together.
Your band is still very young but already successful. Are you already making some plans for the future?
Marie: Actually, we do not make any plans… We just go with the flow.
Jan: Making music must be fun.
Jonas: We are thinking that maybe at some point we will record an album. Maybe next year… next autumn. It depends on how we get the music together, how well we do…
But are you hoping for the international career, like Ewert and the Two Dragons?
Marie: It is a dream.
Karl: I think that inside we all think of it a little bit…
Jonas: Well, who does not? (laugh).
Do you have any special rituals or anything you do before you go on the stage?
Jonas: We all put our hands together, scream „Make it happen!” and then clap.
Marie: (laugh) Today was the first time we did that.
Jan: It is the verse from the song from the band Elephants from Neptune. We really like it.
That sounds like a good ritual. But how do you improve your skills in your free time, individually and as a band?
Jonas: Individually, you have to practice every day and you have to know your goals. If you really love playing an instrument, this should not be a problem. And in a band it depends from how much you practice together, how often you rehearse…
And how often do you do that?
Jonas: Yesterday we had a really intense rehearsal, we went through all the songs and I think it really helped.
Now let me ask a question directly to Marie. Did the fact that your father and your brother are both great musicians, famous in Estonia, help you in any way? Maybe it pushed you forward to the music? (Marie’s father is a legendary bass-player Raul Vaigla, a member of such bands as Ultima Thule or Sooäär-Vaigla-Ruben trio. Her brother, Robert „Robi” Vaigla, plays in Outloudz and Traffic – editorial note)
Marie: I do not know actually, everybody asks me that but… Of course, in some way they had a big influence on me but right now I want to play my music with Frankie Animal and I do not go and ask my father for some help or anything like this. I want to be independent.
How did your life change after Frankie Animal had got quite recognizable?
Marie: I think we are not THAT famous…
Jonas: I think it is all the same. We all go to school and nothing happens…
Marie: Well, in school everybody is like „Oh, you are famous!” and they make some jokes but it seems nothing else has changed yet.
There is still plenty of time for that. Are there any Estonian and foreign artists you would like to work with?
Jonas: Vaiko Eplik – he is a genius! And he is also a person that every musician in Estonia looks up to. About the foreign artists… The Black Keys for sure. And maybe… maybe… I do not know. It is a tricky question (laugh).
Marie: I think that we would like to work with all the artists that we mentioned as our musical authorities.
Jonas: Yes… with any of them!
How do you feel when you perform on a stage?
Marie: Good (laugh). Short answer. I am very nervous before all the concerts but when I step on the stage, the audience gives me the power and then everything changes and it is really cool.
Jonas: If the sound is good and if you feel each other very well and when you have rehearsed all the songs, like we did yesterday, you have good circumstances for playing and you do not have to worry about anything because you know everything will work out.
Jan: And Jonas gets nervous when sound is not good.
Karl: But if everyone is in a good mood and we are all having fun then our gig just has to work out.
And was there any gig that you were not happy about?
Jan: Yes, yes we had such a gig. Every band had these kinds of gigs.
And the best performance you have had so far?
Marie: Today was pretty good…
Karl: Yes, today was also good because of the band we played before, at least for me.
Marie: Yes, Ewert…
Jonas: And it was for the biggest audience and it seemed that the audience liked it as well.
For music and more from Frankie Animal, go to their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FrankieAnimal) and Soundcloud profile (https://soundcloud.com/frankieanimal).