Vancouver’s ever-expanding sprawl of condo and high-rise development was stifling FRANKIIE keyboardist-vocalist Nashlyn Lloyd’s spirit during COVID lockdowns.
“I was living in an apartment near Main and Broadway during the pandemic, surrounded by cars. It was also one of those newer, sterile kind of buildings, but honestly, I was feeling really overwhelmed by Vancouver developments, in general,” Lloyd tells the Straight, though this feeling is relatable to any Mount Pleasant resident still navigating the ongoing construction of the Broadway Subway Project.
Regardless, the songwriter set out to overcome her encroached conditions through a dream-pop protest called “Garden”. Found on FRANKIIE’s sophomore full-length, Between Dreams, the spaciously strummed “Garden” belies its claustrophobic origins. On it, Lloyd and co-founding vocalist-guitarist Francesca Carbonneau’s vibratos entwine to seek out a far-off “natural beauty so divine,” capped with an escapist mantra: “No more urban towers/find me in the flowers.”
“Garden” isn’t necessarily a call-out on developers; Lloyd just knew she needed a breather from city living.
“I’m a nature-loving gal, so I was really yearning to get out of that box,” she says. “I needed to connect a little bit more with the green stuff.”
The green stuff, it turns out, was the lush, grassy landscape of the Lloyd family’s cabin up in Powell River. While Lloyd and Carbonneau explain over Zoom that the writing of Between Dreams began in a “mouldy” East Van basement, a good chunk of the record was crafted during a bucolic retreat on the Sunshine Coast.
“It’s right next door to my grandpa’s. I’ve been going up there my whole life,” Lloyd says. “There was lightness out there that we were able to bring to the songs.”
Furthering the theme, Between Dreams’ reverb-gilded “Crystal Eyes” reflects on Lloyd’s cat Tofu freely wandering the property.
“He’s this symbol of the space,” Carbonneau suggests, adding that the lyrics to “Crystal Eyes” incorporate lines from a poem Lloyd’s mother had previously written about Tofu’s adventuring. The guitarist adds of their muse: “He’s so happy [out in the wilderness]. He gets all these burrs in his hair, just this wild little thing. It’s really fun to see.”
Shaking up the scenery was just one of many fluid aspects to Between Dreams. As its album title suggests, the collection reflects a transitional state for FRANKIIE. While building off the breezy folk rock and paisley psychedelia of the band’s 2019 debut full-length, Forget Your Head, FRANKIIE’s lineup is looking pretty different these days.
Shortly after a trip to Texas’ South by Southwest festival was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, long-time drummer Zoe Fuhr made her exit from the project. After losing their backbeat, Carbonneau and Lloyd were uncertain about FRANKIIE’s next step. But one night they experimented with writing overtop a drum loop they found on YouTube and felt recharged. They brought a drum machine they dubbed “Chad” to the cabin, but recruited flesh- and-blood percussionist Trevor Stöddärt to play drums on the recordings.
Funnily enough, after the band finally made it to SXSW in 2022, bassist Vickie Sieczka revealed she’d be bowing out to focus on graphic design. FRANKIIE then recruited friend and veteran solo musician Jody Glenham midway through the making of Between Dreams, with both bassists appearing on the album.
While FRANKIIE ultimately rebounded, the turnover affected its founders. “It’s emotionally challenging when people come and go,” Lloyd admits, though she nevertheless empathizes with her former bandmates’ respective exits. “It can feel stressful if you have other priorities in your life. I’m not one to force somebody to stick in a situation that they don’t want to be in. So, if you’re ready to go, then go. We’re still friends.”
FRANKIIE’s evolution is alluded to on “Golden Days”, Between Dreams’ closing rocker. Equal parts nostalgic and forward-thinking, it pays homage to bonds built with band members past and present. Ahead of a late-album guitar soloing from Carbonneau, the FRANKIIE founders duet again to sing of the journey so far: “Without each other, we wouldn’t have seen it.”
While Between Dreams marked a profound change for FRANKIIE, the flux of life continues. Lloyd was nine months pregnant when they tracked the album and they have a brand new fan in her son, Mars (“He loves our music, probably because he heard it in utero”).
More recently, Carbonneau has moved to Los Angeles.
Near the end of the interview, the guitarist picks up her laptop, walks off onto her patio, and reveals a distant, sun-kissed look at the Silver Lake reservoir. Like that cabin out in Powell River, the lightness of the Golden State could prove inspirational. Lloyd wonders, though, how best to approach the next batch of FRANKIIE tunes with her songwriting partner.
“I think the challenge is going to be writing, when we get back into that cycle. Are we going to be able to do that through Zoom? Or do I have to come to LA a bunch?”
The keyboardist pauses for the briefest of moments. “Wouldn’t be upset about that,” she says through a wry smile. “I would love to come to LA.”
Between Dreams is out June 2 via Paper Bag.