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    When people think about U.S cities known for musical prowess, bigger cities like L.A., Chicago, Nashville or New York usually come to mind. But Louisville has a local music scene that oozes with unabashed variety, charisma and flare. Ambitious talent can be found at a number of bars and local festivals all throughout the city. And in a place where a large amount of the population considers themselves to be southern, bluegrass and other sub-genres of country are not the only sounds that thrive. The spectrum of musical variety that this city embraces goes from rock to hip-hop to metal to rap to folk and beyond. Louisville loves its homegrown musical talent. “I just think local bands have so much support – not even just from other bands but from people living here. Local bands could be household names, more so than in other cities,” Jenni Cochran expressed to me. Cochran is the sole female talent and lead vocalist for Frederick The Younger, a band born in Louisville. In 2014, Frederick The Younger consisted of only Cochran (keys and vocals), Aaron Craker (piano, guitar and vocals) and Matt Kohorst (bass). Later, in 2015, John Barrera and Dave Given joined and helped solidify Frederick The Younger.  Since then, they have toured around the Midwest, behind their Warm Front EP and ahead of their freshman album Human Child, playing what has been labeled as “sunshine rock.”

    Before I was invited to talk with the band (sans Dave) in Cochran’s apartment, the term “sunshine rock” puzzled me. Even though it isn’t a new class of rock, it isn’t one that is widely talked about. Their social media accounts plugged the title as if they had willingly aligned with the seemingly esoteric style. And after listening to Warm Front, as well as their single from Human Child, the band’s sound didn’t harmonize with what I had expected of “sunshine rock.” So I went into the interview hoping they could give me a little more clarity.


    Image: Chris Gray

    What is “sunshine rock?” What does it mean to you all?

    Jenni Cochran: We struggled with how to classify ourselves for a while. I think a lot of bands struggle with that.  A lot of times now it’s like, “Oh, rock,” but you need some other adjective, or sometimes two other adjectives, to pinpoint what it is.  So we were just kind of thinking what the overall vibe was of our music, and sunshine is happy.  We’re very high-energy and have high-energy live shows.

     

    Did you always feel like you had that “sunshine” vibe? Was that the kind of music you all gravitated towards?

    Cochran: Not really at all. When I met Aaron, I wrote a lot of really dark songs.

    Aaron Craker: That’s actually when Matt joined, when we went to the studio and recorded thirteen of the weirdest, darkest songs ever. Some of them turned out pretty well. The thing is we don’t want to totally abandon that, but the sunshine rock is something that we gotta consciously steer towards because it’s very easy to go in the other direction. I think that’s true for a lot of bands.

     

    In the middle of Craker’s explanation of why the band chooses to align with the “sunshine rock” niche, Kohorst interjected and said that he loved the weird, dark songs that the band – at the time just a trio – initially recorded. However, they all agreed with nods and attentive murmurs when Cochran added that she had discovered it’s much harder to write joy than sorrow. In Warm Front, that personal, reflective and sometimes darker style of writing was evident, yet the EP is not depressing because their musically robust chord progressions, melodies, bass lines and drumbeats uplift the songs. There is a balance, but that dichotomy between somber, introspective lyrics and infectiously upbeat instrumentals exemplifies their potential and range.

    One of Frederick The Younger’s new singles, “Horoscope,” gives a taste of what the band is capable of and the direction they chose to steer their debut album in.

     

    “Horoscope” has a lot more energy than the songs on your EP. So is that going to be the tone for Human Child?

    Cochran: I think it is very much the tone. We wanted energy. We actually recorded the record and listened to it and went back into the studio because we wanted to add more parts, more dynamics, more layers of sound – we just wanted more.

    Craker: It [“Horoscope”] also really captures all the songs we’ve been doing live for the past year. Our live songs are more amped up, and that’s the direction we went with the album.

     

    Is that why you all shifted [from Warm Front] because your live audience was so receptive to it?

    Craker: Yeah, in a way, we had the luxury of testing all these songs on the audience.

     

    What does the upcoming album mean to you all? Does it have a certain feeling that you want to get across to your listeners?

    Cochran: It’s funny.  After we wrote the album and we stepped backed from it, I think thematically we realized it has this whole coming-of-age theme. In “Horoscope,” the refrain in the song is about a kid who is coming-of-age. A lot of the other songs keep with that same theme. We just wanted to try something different. Those kinds of stories bring back a lot of nostalgic feelings. When people are finding themselves, you know, in any stage of life.


    Image: Frederick The Younger

    Frederick The Younger definitely has a vision for Human Child, and it is not a vision they simply stumbled upon.  Through collaboration within their band and feedback from their growing audience, they hope to make a statement within the music industry that they are a serious and talented group of performers.  Their next tour starts with their album release show on February 3rd (follow their Facebook page for updates), and they will be on the road through April. In the meantime, listen to their EP, Warm Front, which you can find on Spotify and InStoreRecordings.  Their single “Horoscope” can also be found on both, as well as on the band’s SoundCloud page.

    Cover Image courtesy of Frederick The Younger

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    About Christopher Gray

    I'm a young scribe with a lot to say. And I'm happy to share.

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