INTERVIEW: Allyson from FROYO chats new single 'Heart', making music videos and the 80s
Sydney based synth-pop duo Froyo formed in 2012 by Michael Chow when he asked singer Allyson Montenegro to join a band he was forming as part of a university assignment. Once the assignment and university were finished, the band continued and recently released their third single, the glorious 1980s throwback synthpop track ‘Heart’, the first track off their upcoming debut EP Blue. We recently caught up with Allyson to chat about all things Froyo - their music, the upcoming EP and what makes the 1980s still so irresistible.
Hi Allyson! Thanks for the chat. Third single ‘Heart’ came out a few weeks ago, can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the song?
Musically, you can probably hear the influence of CHVRCHES, one of our inspiration bands. Lyrically, it was inspired by the concept of navigating between following your heart versus following your mind - super cheesy, we know. I guess we wrote this song with our music careers in mind. Pursuing music isn’t the most logical or safest of paths, that’s for sure. People think of it as a risky venture, but I suppose anything can be risky if you put all your eggs in that one basket. Both Michael Chow and I have lives outside of music and that’s the reality - most of us don’t make music to put food on the table, unless you’re Bruno Mars or something. To pursue our art, we have to be smart about it. Gone are the days of the starving artist.
What was the recording process for the song like?
There are no acoustic instruments in ‘Heart’ or any of our songs for that matter, except for James Shuar on the guitar on some tracks. That’s about as real as it gets. On the upside, that’s about a hundred hours we don’t have to spend in recording studios.
Michael and I record vocals at his house. A track usually takes a whole day for a person, especially if we keep switching accents in between takes. It happens. We also waste a lot of that time figuring out what to order on Uber Eats.
Froyo’s music is very inspired by the synth-pop of the 1980s. What are your favourite things about the 80s?
Well from what I remember as a non-existent thought…Let’s just say I live vicariously through films, TV and music from and depicting that era. I am especially in favour of the over-use of denim.
What do you think it is about 80s music that remains so popular 30 years on?
I think it was an eventful time in music in that new sounds emerged due to the coming of age of synth and digital recording. More, it saw an explosion of countercultures and the dichotomy of pop and alternative music. There was also the beginning of MTV from which emerged legendary icons still relevant today. I guess with many trends it’s also cyclical. I mean, the obvious thing is the generation that came with it, who experienced it in their twenties and thirties are still here. So the 80s are close enough in that it still incites nostalgia but it’s not too far away that it’s obsolete. The media also influences these trends and there’s definitely an 80s comeback in film and television and therefore 80s/80s-esque soundtracks.
The music video was filmed in some fairly public places, did you have any interesting encounters with the general public who stumbled onto your video set?
A female power-walker at Luna Park commented on our boombox. We said we were time travellers and she yelled back, “I AM TIME!”
You will soon be releasing your debut EP Blue. Can you tell us a little about what we can expect to hear when it is released?
An emotional rollercoaster. ‘Sad-dance’ – it’s a new genre.
There has been a lot of debate over the last year or so about gender equality in the music industry. What are your thoughts on this topic?
Yes it has been male-dominated in the past and yes I support that changing. History doesn’t change overnight but as long as we’re pushing for education, initiatives, and line-ups supporting the gender minorities, we will see more representations emerging from that. It’s important that we realise that underneath gender, there are more differentiations, such as ethnicity, economic status, appearance and so on. It is crucial that representations are diverse and inclusive, as the majority of those who will identify are the youth, the future of the music industry. The more superficial barriers we break now the better, so everyone has a chance to begin at the same level.
What artists are you listening to at the moment?
Parcels. Those guys are so effortlessly groovy. The epitome of cool.
What does the rest of 2019 have in store for Froyo?
More Chinese takeaway I hope, which means more workshopping on the second EP so we can hopefully bring some tunes to you before the next millennium.