They call it “shadow pop.” We call it sexy as fuck.
Fraea, an electronic pop project by Jessie Daley and Drew Preiner, was named after the Nordic goddess of love, sex, death, and war. Their debut album, Bend Your Bones, was released independently in April and consists of six tracks that ooze sensuality and evoke undulating, oceanic states of desire.
Daley, a onetime background vocalist for defunct indie-folk band Roma di Luna, and Preiner, a former member of rock band Roster McCabe, were connected by a mutual friend and initially corresponded by email. Preiner sent beats he’d been working on, Daley added vocals, and the aural experimentations ping-ponged back and forth.
“I had been in a situation before where we were kind of forced to write,” Preiner says. “It was much more of a machine, so this was really nice to deliberately take our time, to let the songs organically live and breathe and grow.”
When the two finally met up at Preiner’s place to collaborate face-to-face, “the energy was really good right away,” Daley says. “We started blasting out songs left and right.” The duo wrote for two years before recording Bend Your Bones in late 2015.
“Shadow pop” is a term Daley came up with. “It speaks to pop music being accessible, being something people can relate to, grab onto, but also having that dark, shadowy, obscure weirdness to it,” she says.
There’s also an element of otherworldliness to Fraea.
“I don’t always know what I’m writing about,” says Daley, who pens many of the lyrics as she falls asleep at night. “Writing those lyrics, and I think creativity in general, gets you in touch with a deeper part of yourself that sometimes is completely unconscious.”
This ambiguousness is visually represented in the band’s album art, which features gelatinous green and pink substances floating in water. A designer at ad firm Knock by day, Preiner imagined Fraea’s music as “liquid moving within liquid.” He created the images with a friend by shooting paint, milk, and other substances into a fish tank with turkey basters, then filmed them in slow motion.
“People could see whatever they wanted to,” he says of the lava lamp-esque blobs. Likewise, with the music: “It was up to the listeners’ interpretation.”
Whatever your conclusion, Fraea’s slick production and ethereal vocals are attention-grabbers — and there’s more where that came from. When asked if they have another album in the works, Preiner cryptically answers, “We’re always writing. That’s really where we flourish.”
Daley adds, “It could be next month or it could be a ways down the road, but we won’t put something else out there until it’s something that we’re proud of and that speaks to our hearts.”