Interview

Deep Dive with Calabasas [Q&A]

Ian Tsang

Calabasas' frontrunners, Franskiiz and Watrcup, have a unique duality that has led to their already deep discography. Coming off their breakthrough year, they’ve moved to the top – working with the iconic Abou ‘Bu’ Thiam before releasing a bevy of singles. Their penultimate 2020 single “Beaujolais” garnered the most attention: amassing 886k+ streams and displaying their diverse production skillset. Ahead of their debut EP OKAY: An LA Story, they sat down for an interview – personally introducing fans to the faces behind the masks.

* This interview has since been edited, as "The Image" rebranded to new name "Calabasas."

 

How did "The Image" come about?

The Image spawned at a time when both of us had just begun working together and we equally were looking for that “thing” or spark that was going to be our future. When Watrcup first had the idea, it was in its roughest form. When he brought it to Franskiiz, the creativity just started flowing seamlessly as most things do when we feed off each other. Where it is now and where it was in the beginning is night and day. But we are both so proud to see it come to life and become more than what we hoped.

If you could pick two artists that inspired your sound, who would they be?

Honestly, it changes all the time. We both draw inspiration from such unique places and I think that’s why our sound is so diverse and honest. This question is always so hard for us because with every song of ours that you hear, you are going to get a different vibe. Lately though we have both been drawing a lot from Glass Animals, strangely enough.

How would you describe your music and your theme?

If we had to describe it we would have to say it’s an experience. Every song is always going to be a complete journey from start to finish. Watrcup’s writing has a way of emotionally weaving through Franskiiz’s grand production, and the fans are always going to get a full trip through both of our minds with each song. We want you to feel our highs and lows and we think our music really brings that out in our fans.

 

What's it been like to work more as a pair instead of focusing on your solo careers? Are you able to draw more inspiration from each other/does your creative process go quicker?

Oh no doubt. I think we both found something special in each other and this project that allows us to work at a level we didn’t always have alone. We creatively bring out the best in each other and we push ourselves every single time we record. I think the best part about it is we are so close in real life that the creative chemistry mimics our friendship. We balance each other out inso many ways.

What's been the highlight of The Image so far?

There’s been so many in such a short amount of time. From meeting artists we grew up idolizing, to creating songs we never dreamed we’d make, to even just doing what we love every day. But a huge highlight so far has to be finishing this project. We are so excited to show the world who we are and what we came to do, and we think it’s going to be super obvious when it drops.

Have there been any lows, where you kinda hit a roadblock in the music, and how do you cope with that?

I mean there’s always lows. Real life is real life and there’s no accounting for things that just happen to us on a daily basis, but in reality we both know how blessed we are for this opportunity, and how to get to where we wanna be. With music, we have very different ways of approaching any blocks but they work equally as well. For Fran it’s kind of a grind it out mentality, like you just keep pushing until you break the block entirely or you pass out exhausted from trying. For Watr, it’s a bit more soul searching to weave his way around distractions. Situations always come into your life that try to throw you off your course, but it’s important to just recognize them and move forward. I think also the fact that we make so much music all the time, that if we ever get stuck, we know we can come back to something whenever, because we are always so far ahead of what we want to drop.

I read a little about your experience working with Bu Thiam. How'd that meeting come about and what were you able to draw from it to take a step forward?

Man, Bu is amazing. To say that he changed our lives is an understatement and we really do owe the man everything. I think his biggest contribution has been as a mentor so far. He stepped in at a time where we were so raw but had all this potential, and he really steered us in the direction we needed to go. We met him in the beginning of the pandemic actually, in 2020 over the phone. A friend of Watr’s actually sent Bu the early demos a couple months before, and when he finally sat down and listened he called immediately. We hopped on the phone, he gave us the run down, and the next day he flew in from Atlanta to LA to meet us in person. It’s been awesome to learn from him and his experiences and apply that to all the crazy stuff we’re doing and want to do moving forward.

What artist(s) would you like to collaborate with in the future?

We really wanna get in with everyone ahahaha. We wanna create with artists and producers from all over, but some big ones would probably have to be Mike Dean, Jack Harlow, Starrah, and Kid Cudi just to name a few.

What's a day in the life like on your writing days? What about your days off?

We really do spend every day just kickin' it. We hoop, play video games, Mob around LA with the boys, and kinda do almost everything together. Then when the world falls asleep we start working. We create every day so both of us being insomniacs really helps with that, because we never have to pause life to work. We just wait till we are the only ones awake to start cooking really.

What do you hope listeners will get from your new EP? Is there a hidden message you want to resonate with fans?

This project has a super good blend of good vibes and vulnerability at the same time. Like we said earlier, we want people to be with us through the highs and the lows all the way through. This whole tape was inspired by our home and our lives in the city. If anything, we want the fans to know us better. We feel like over the last year, we introduced ourselves to so many of our audience, and now it’s time for them to move in with us. We want them to know how we think and move, and this project honestly does a great job of doing so in our opinion.

 

OKAY: An LA Story premiers on Friday (2/12), but for now listen to their single "Morning Prayer," off the EP below.

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