Franki Pineapple just released her debut single ‘Fuck It Man!’ which called for us to have a chat and explore where she got her artist name, her inspiration and what advice she would give emerging artists!
What inspired you to start writing music?
Growing up I was discouraged to sing, dance or play music. I believed I had no musical talent whatsoever; I had no rhythm and I was tone deaf. When I was in fifth grade my chorus teacher insensitively kicked me out of the chorus after telling me she had listened to rehearsal tapes and found my voice was “standing out” and throwing off the chorus. I was devastated and the experience began years of stifling creative impulses. I was hesitant to clap at concerts for fear of being off-rhythm and I mouthed the words in a group singing ‘Happy Birthday.’ However, I had been an avid reader and writer from a young age. I had journals full of poetry and writing by the time I came into music. In 2003, when I was twenty-seven, John Rigney, elite business manager of A-listers like Jim Carrey, Samuel Jackson, etc., hooked me up with his then client, legendary songwriter JD Souther; who hired me to transcribe his journal entries for an upcoming album. JD had made his name in the seventies music scene, having written songs/for with the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, etc. JD and I dove into an inspiring creative relationship in which I worked closely with his words. He opened up a musical world for me, of which I had always yearned to be a part, but to which I had no access. JD discovered my knack for writing poetry and encouraged me to spin my words into lyrics. Several months into working together, JD asked me to travel to Ireland with him to continue work on his album in the remote countryside. Idiotically, I turned down the opportunity of my lifetime and chose to remain in Hollywood chasing stars. As our work relationship came to an end, JD urged me to find musicians who would collaborate and put my words to music. I became obsessed with following JD’s sage advice, which put me on my musical path and sparked the following seventeen years of song writing collaborations, learning to sing, play guitar and perform my songs.
Who are your musical influences?
At the start of my musical journey, JD Souther gave me my first Bob Dylan album; I suppose I could say the latent songwriter in me was freed on impact. Subsequentially, I became obsessed not just with Dylan, but with JD’s musical history and counterparts; so, I was inspired by: Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Carole King, etc. Once I dove into my own musical instincts, I discovered Patti Smith and Debbie Harry, who influenced me greatly as a rock poet. As the years passed, I realized, even though I believed I had no musical talent growing up, all along I had been shaped by my childhood heroes: Prince, Madonna and eventually Alanis Morissette. As well, I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the late-eighties, early-nineties, hanging out with wannabe gangsters driving mini-trucks on hydraulics bumping OG West Coat Hip Hop: NWA, Too Short, Ice-T, etc.; I was unintentionally greatly influenced by these rappers. It’s been a mixed bag of inspiration.
What inspired your artist name?
Coming from a strong, close-knit Italian family, I had always been attached to my given name, Stephanie Carlisi, and had no intention of taking on an artist name. In 2016 I met music producer Nataraj Tribino and we began a musical collaboration. Several months into working with Nataraj, he suggested I take on an artist name, to which I initially took offense. He told me I needed to brand myself with a memorable, sexy, edgy name. Later that day we were having lunch in Thai Town, kicking around ideas as I was warming to the idea of a new identity. “What about Pineapple?” I asked between bites of pineapple fried rice. “That’s it! I love it. It’s sexy, it’s memorable and a pineapple is sweet and soulful on the inside, tough on the outside, like your musical sensibilities,” Nataraj said. Slowly but surely, I began performing/creating/branding under the name “Pineapple.” I was becoming married to the name and people had taken to addressing me as such. About two-and-a-half years later, I decided to legitimize my branding. I hired an attorney and began the arduous process of trademarking, but my attorney found I would have little-to-no chance of procuring the generic name “Pineapple” as a musical artist. He sent me back to the drawing board and told me to modify the name into one more unique. My father, who passed of a drug overdose when I was five, was named Frankie. As a tribute to my father, I had used “Franki Fiori” as a penname in some of my racier writings over the years. A friend suggested I combine the two names and trademark the name “Franki Pineapple.” I fell in love with the name immediately, even more than “Pineapple.” My attorney felt confident we could procure the trademark for “Franki Pineapple” so we proceeded. While my attorney was in the process of trademarking “Franki Pineapple,” I contacted John Pasche, the designer of the iconic Rolling Stones “tongue and lips” logo about creating a “Franki Pineapple” logo for me, incorporating a ‘pineapple grenade’ meant to symbolize peaceful rebellion. He loved the idea and asked me to send him music; which was all it took to get him to start creating. By the time John sent the finished logo back to me, I was head over heels in love with Franki Pineapple and could not look back. My father’s passing has had a profound effect on my development as a woman and as an artist, integrating his name into my musical identity has guided me in owning the tragedy as a beautiful part of my story, and also setting me free from lifelong grief (and daddy issues) as I have stepped out of the shadow of a broken little girl and claimed my path as a free woman and artist.
What are you most proud of what you have accomplished so far?
I was twenty-eight years old the first time I picked up a guitar. People told me it was too late to learn and that the process of forming calluses on my fingers would be too painful. Huh?! Thank God I didn’t listen! I am not a master guitar player by any stretch, but I was told by my first guitar teacher and song writing partner, USC Guitar Professor Tim Kobza, to use simple chords to write/play my original songs; I only needed to be able to accompany myself while I shared my truth. I became OBSESSED with learning chords, strumming and singing in time. I have not put the guitar down since. I now write, sing and perform my original songs on guitar, even play some covers, in my unique style.
Nothing in life has brought me more healing, joy and inspiration, which I love sharing with others. I believe it has saved my life.
Two goals you would like to achieve within the next two years?
1) My number one goal is to be happy and love myself with a free spirit even if I never succeed at turning the past seventeen years of unwavering dedication, sacrifice and painstaking perseverance that has been my musical journey into financial reward.
2) My number two goal is to turn the past seventeen years of unwavering dedication, sacrifice and painstaking perseverance into financial reward.
What tips would you give emerging artists?
Your deepest passions and desires are your calling. Listen to your calling and follow it no matter what; it is what makes you unique and will set you apart. There is a reason this calling is inside of you. Every artist has a different approach. Let it become your style. What others think or don’t think of you is all but inconsequential. As people, we project ourselves onto each other, so reading someone’s reaction to your art as a means of validation is worthless; their reaction is about them, not about you. Feedback is important information, yes, but that’s all it is. If you mould your creative impulses around the opinions of others too much, you’ll snuff out your spark and end up chasing your tail. Taste and judgment are personal to the individual. Stick with your calling, your individual style, and honour it. David Bowie is a fine example.