Speaking to FrYars, Ben Garrett to his friends, the night before he heads to Latvia to support Latvian troubadour Goran Gora in front of 2,000 people, you’d never guess he was only 19.
Despite going to school with members of Bombay Bicycle Club and Cajun Dance Party, FrYars is a million miles from what springs to mind when you think of the current crop of teenage bands.
“I try to make something that’s different, although it’s subconsciously influenced by stuff,” he says. “Unless I was born with things in my head which is possible but…unlikely”
Perhaps not that unlikely. FrYars’ debut release, the ‘Ides’ EP, was produced by one-time Clor member Luke Smith and invited comparisons as diverse as Patrick Wolf to Nick Cave via Kid A-era Radiohead. In truth, Garrett’s songs are weirder than that, shot through with a twilight whimsy that makes them sound like they were written in a darkened bedroom at 4am with just the MacBook glow for company. The intimacy of his insinuating baritone contrasts with the Fruity Loops bleeps and crackles that embellish what he dryly calls “poptastic gems” like ‘Olive Eyes’ and ‘Chocolate’. Even the way he approaches the songwriting process betrays Garrett’s wealth of unorthodox ideas:
“When I start writing music, a few lines come out of the music through the vowel sounds. I try and make something based on how those two lines could fit into something; sometimes I’ll actually write out a story and write lyrics from that.”
This organic approach suggests that FrYars has little time for boundaries. A theory proved when he starts playing a demo down the phone, where, despite my phone’s best efforts to turn it into a trebly howl, I can just about discern Gary Numan-style synths and a disco beat. “It’s a bit gay ‘80s,” he laughs. There’s no doubt that there’s a little of the eccentric about Garrett, especially noticeable when he ruminates on the idea of fame: “What a horrible idea.” he remarks. “I’m just going to buy a house with a lake in the middle of nowhere.” A bit like Kate Bush? “Exactly. Kate Bush is a benchmark for doing anything really.”