There is an innate contrast to the music Hermione Frank makes as rRoxymore. Pensive rhythms are rendered in the rapier stabs at synthesisers and drum machines forming pristine, silky arrangements that glide over the surface of bouncing tracks. Her music seems to be made from fleeting encounters between the conscious and the subconscious that at times feel very raw and organic even though the machine aesthetic naturally belies those connotations.
Her artistic moniker is an anagram of “oxymoron” in French – “I just added another ‘r’ because people kept calling my roxy, but it hasn’t changed, but people still call me Roxy” – and her music like her chosen alias is a contradiction in terms that has left an unique impression both as a recording artist and a live performer.
Refining her craft as a DJ through her teens in Montpellier France and then Paris, hers was always a very inclusive approach, fusing disparate elements it seems she’s “always wanted to melt things like this,” according to a Factmag interview. “I wanted to mix organic stuff and electronic, so I would start with disco or a jazzy thing, then funky, playing trip-hop maybe and finishing on house.”
From DJing her route into music would follow a less orthodox route by today’s standards where she made her first impressions on the dance floor as a live performer, performing both as a solo artists and with other musicians. It was after moving to Berlin where she would make the biggest stride of her career when she befriended rising DFA star Planningtorock, to become part of the touring live band and subsequently release records on the the artist’s Human Level label.
Since making her debut as a recording artist with 2012’s “Precarious/ Precious Ep”, she’s gone on to release records for Paula Temple’s Noise Manifesto, Don’t be Afraid and most recently Ostgut Ton.
2017’s “Thoughts of an Introvert” and its follow up, “Thoughts of an introvert part 2” became something of a breakout hit for the artist with various antennae vibrating at the frequencies rRoxymore was transmitting. Those tracks were born out of a time and place where Frank “wasn’t feeling Techno” anymore, but those records weren’t as a much an evolution of her work as it was establishing the music of rRoxymore outside an epoch.
While these records and the inclusion of “Tropicalcore” in Fiedel’s recent Berghain mix and compilation has certainly introduced rRoxymore to a larger audience, she’s always been steadfast in her approach to music, combining philosophies to informing a kind of lucid abstract music that is very unique to her as an artist.
We wanted to know more about these ideas ,the influences that inform her work and her live show, and before her arrival at Charlotte Bendiks’ IRONI, we called her up and found a very amiable personality, friendly yet succinct in her answers with hearty titter often punctuating the end of her sentences.
I’ve been listening to thoughts of an introvert part 1 and 2 while preparing for this interview and I’ve read somewhere that at time of writing those pieces, you weren’t feeling Techno anymore. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
There are two sides to the coin: One is more like a dark account while the other one was more of a positive way of dealing with the world to sum up the state of mind I was in when I wrote it.
It’s got a very organic feel to those records, almost in an improvised Jazz style. Was there anything about those records that changed the way you made records previously?
The modus operandi behind this was always the same, but yes maybe it has more of that improvised feel, that has always been a part of my work. Maybe you feel it more here in these tracks than the previous releases. If you hear some Jazz influences I’m really happy about that because it was a big influence.
While we’re on the subject of influences, tell me a bit more about your earliest musical influences and how much did Jazz play a role?
I’ve been listening to electronic music for a long time, but I grew up in a Jazz home – in fact my dad is very much a Jazz head. So Jazz was very much an influence, I won’t deny that.
When did you start picking up electronic music and DJing?
When I was a teenager I already started DJing and I was really into this kind of music. It’s always been there, and there was a phase I was not so interested, but then it came back to me. It was a passion for while.
I’ve read somewhere that when you started DJing, it was about mixing organic sounds with the more abstract electronic sounds.
Did that inform a large part of what you took into making music too?
Yes, totally. I’ve always had this idea (now it might not sound so new) to have this organic sound mixed with a very rigid structure that comes from a computer. I’ve always wanted to have these two types of philosophies working together. You can hear it in my tastes and also in my production.
You said computer there, but the few times I’ve seen you live, it’s always looked to be a machine-based thing. Are you using the computer more than the analogue machines?
When I say computer, I mean both the computer and the machines. Analogue for you might be a synth, but analogue for me has other connotations.
Your first record came out in 2012 but I believe you had been performing live for some time before then.
So do you approach the aspects of production in the same way as you do a live set?
No I think the two are very different. Even though I keep in mind that I have to re-transcribe my music for the live setting, but they are two different things. In the studio I like to spend time on sound design and stuff like this, but when I approach the live part I have to consider other things to make it work. I don’t work in the same way, no.
So when you are re-transcribing the things for a live show, is it about recreating those tracks in a recorded sense?
Yes and no. It is a part of it, but there’s a lot of improvisation in a way too.
I became familiar with your work through Planningtorock, when you were part of her live act and after you released your first EP on her label Human Level. How did you meet and start working together?
We met through MySpace when I was living in Paris and when I moved to Berlin, she was one of the first people I got in touch with. At that time she was about to release her second album on DFA and she was looking for someone to tour with and I had that experience already and it came very easily. We became very good friends, and we toured together for many years. She’s been a big support.
You’re other affiliation is with the label don’t be afraid, and you’ve worked extensively with them. What do you enjoy about working with them?
It’s really easy. Andy is a true passionate guy about music and the music scene. He’s very low key and super generous and he really understands me and gives me all the freedom I want… I don’t need more. (laughs)
I’ve a lot struggles with other labels. People often approach me and ask me to send them music, but they want me to tailor something for what they have in mind, which is very difficult. You should always trust your artist and follow what they are offering.
The other release that has a special place in my personal record collection, is the Decon/Recon #1 on Paula Temple’s Noise Manifesto. It’s such an interesting concept. What was that experience like and how did the idea come around?
It was great, especially at that time. It made sense because we all shared the same studio. It was Paula’s idea to bring us all together so it came together really easily. It was really nice. We had a few gigs together as well and it was really good.
I’m interested in your upcoming live set, and I’m curious what it will sound like.
It will be very dancy and more playful for a club night. A lot of drum machines and bass drums.
Is it easy to relay those sort of organic sounds and rhythms in your production for some of the tracks on “thoughts of an introvert “in the live show?
I don’t play that one so much. I keep the more straightforward ones for the club environment. It will still be very organic, but I might only play one of the tracks from that EP. We’ll see… now that you mention it I might.
So you adapt your set accordingly.
Yes, of course. I can’t play the same if I play at three- or four am than if, for instance tomorrow I play at nine whee the vibe will be more artsy, so yes I’ll adapt accordingly.
Do you think that your set at Jæger will be more in line with track you released on the recent Berghain compilation?