You can say that Frankie Bernstein has been around the musical block a few times – as Metaphase, TROWA, and currently Frank Royal. He has appeared on Reid Speed‘s notorious Play Me/Play Me Too Records, Rottun Recordings, and often plays festivals with The Lucent Dossier Experience. Completely obsessed with all things music, the man never stops. He has recently dropped a new label called Spiked Punch,featuring the best of what the bass music scene has to offer.
Big up for the interview, Metaphase! Tell us about your musical upbringing.
For sure, thank you! I grew up in Las Vegas in a musical household, playing piano by 5 & drums by 10. Surrounded by Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Musicals, Pop, everything; I loved music early on. My first concert was TLC & MC Hammer when I was 9. I really got serious with Drum set and music around 13, started punk bands, and bands at school. Went to a magnet school just to study music for high school then ended up going to college at CalArts getting a Bachelor’s degree in Performance + Composition. Tim Burton went to my college lol. I’ve always been a music nerd who loved going to raves, and art is my life. I also love concert and stage production from the most underground to massive festivals.
When did drum ’n bass enter your life? What were some of your earliest memories?
Late 90’s raves in Vegas. I was going to raves and hearing all styles of the late 90’s and early 2000’s get mixed and blended. We had breaks, house, trance, speed garage, hardcore, and of course jungle. I remember hearing RAW, Dieselboy, Flux, OB-1, CRS? and others at parties, and as a drummer DnB sharply stood out from other music. Then I got into all of the sub-genres, techstep, ragga, liquid, neuro, etc. I’d have to say it was the first electronic genre I fell in love with and unified my lifestyle with. I’d play along to my favorite records on the drums at home, and began producing some DnB on an old version of Sonic Acid on a PC around 2000. My first vinyl record came out as Metaphase in 2004, Winter In May remix!
You’ve been producing for over a decade now. What are your favorite releases you have put out so far?
I’m really stoked on my newest music as Frank Royal. I feel I’m combining years of sounds and styles I’ve produced into one and it’s really just fun. I also really enjoy some of the records I made with Philthy B. as Trowa a few years back. We had a blast making all of the Trowa records.
You have a wide range of influences, both as a producer and a drummer. What do you think are the advantages to taking time to explore other genres in regards to being an artist?
I think we all should explore as many types of music & art as possible. Ultimately our mind is like a fractal of musical and artistic influence, from our inner-self as well as our outer environment. Having a diverse an ear as you can is really to your benefit. I look at it like the more you’ve heard or experienced, it’s more creative vocabulary to draw from when you’re writing & producing. It makes things more fun. Almost like you want to have these juicy creative experiences with other music, then completely forget about it as you’re creating. It can change you, give you perspective, or make an imprint of sorts. You simply having had those interactions with other art, people, books, festivals, paintings, food, ultimately makes your human experience more unique, which can be a direct source of inspiration while making music.
How has your profession as a drummer played into your music? Have you thought about doing a live act at all?
It goes in seasons. I was with Lucent Dossier for 4 years, producing their tracks and drumming live. It was great, a ton of schlepping (moving) drums around although the shows were amazing. We hit Coachella, Shambala, Lightning in a Bottle (4 years in a row), and a National Tour in 2014. The past 2 years I’ve been going heavy in the studio with my new project Frank Royal, and I’m putting the pieces together to play live and DJ for that project and hit all those festival stages again solo!
What artists, drum & bass, dubstep or otherwise, do you admire?
Right now… Infuze, NGHTMRE, Mefjus, Noisia, Emperor, Virtual Riot, STS9, Losco, Stranger, Barely Alive, Flinch, Reid Speed, AHEE, KRNE, graves, Jack U, Lookas, so many good ones!
What releases are you currently working on?
All new Frank Royal tunes! I’ve got a remix of ILLGates & Stephan Jacobs tune “Bounce” out on 11:11. I recently had a release with Flinch on Buygore called “June Buzz”. I also just dropped a single with Nato Feelz called “Clownin'”, & currently I’m working with Reid Speed, AHEE, Nato Feelz, King Peanuts, WKND BAES, & Hi I’m Ghost on some new music.
You are aligned with the cream-of-the-crop, including Play Me Records, Lucent Dossier, Rottun Recordings, and many more. What advice would you give to a fresh producer just entering the industry?
If your chakras aren’t aligned……… JUST JOKING! Haha, honestly though: Carve your own path by trusting your ear, and your intuition. Everyone can have the same VSTSynth and DAW as you, only you have your ears. Work on your craft by getting lightning fast with your DAW, come up with a killer work flow, stay healthy with food and rest, and work your ass off on making new sounds. Go out to shows but not too much, and don’t force a tune.. and if you’re not feeling it take a fucking walk! Also give your ears a bit of rest every 4 hours or so. Coffee and Yerba Mate will be your best friend.
Let’s have a little fun. Weirdest or most laughable gig story. And GO!
Here’s a plain crazy one: We did 2 Lucent sows in one night at Burning man 2014 (yea i know), and we had about 30 minutes to get from one stage to another. We were on after Glitch Mob at Camp ?. None of the dancers or set pieces were ready in time, so I had to book it on a bike with my USB drive and headphones across the playa to jump in and DJ after Glitch Mob and before Opiuo, so I showed up and got to play about 45 min of dubstep / dnb. The rest of Lucent got there in time to perform at the end of my set for 15 min, but needless to say it was one of the most memorable and fun sets I’ve ever played but completely unexpected and insane.
You’ve recently launched a new label, Spiked Punch. Tell us a bit about that. What releases can we look forward to?
It’s a diverse and fresh collection of sounds. A hybrid mix of Dubstep, DnB, Future Beats, & Trap. So far we have released AHEE, Gumdr0p, Radical One, and have forthcoming music from Pleasure, Cvppa Coffee, The Magnum Carta, & Laredo.
Anything else to add?
It’s always about the music! Thanks to everyone who has supported all of my projects over the years, stoked to be making music and can’t wait to smash some shows coming up! Check out Frank Royal and the new label, Spiked Punch, lots of new music dropping soon!