In conversation with artist and entrepreneur FRENNA
Being the most-streamed artist in The Netherlands does not stop Francis Edusei, better known as Frenna, from climbing to even greater heights. He has already achieved a global audience with his music, which is not surprising given that it reflects the current cultural zeitgeist and feels so distinctive from others. Growing up, he was always around a variety of cultures, which influenced his work and his mentality as an entrepreneur. Numéro got the chance to speak with him and find out about his next exciting big move; the second edition of 7Fest. They will continue the success of the first edition where they became The Netherland’s fastest-growing dance festival with 17k visitors. This year they aim to go even bigger with 25k visitors.
Do you have a musical memory that always stayed with you?
There isn’t one specific memory, but my family has greatly influenced my musical career. My sisters have been imprinting beautiful tunes in my mind since I was a child, like Destiny’s Child and Tupac. And, of course, being Ghanaian, my mother and father have always played traditional music, from which I instinctively draw melodies. I’ve always incorporated all of the different influences in my life into my music. Sometimes I have created a new beat and it is not until after, that I remember the inspiration has emerged from many beats that live in my head.
As the most streamed artist in The Netherlands, you have probably already achieved many of your goals. What can we expect from you in the future?
There is one big ongoing project, the second edition of 7Fest. Which is a festival I have created with my business partner Zakaria el Khanza. Next to that, I am also not afraid to say that I am focusing on becoming international. With all the knowledge I build up here in The Netherlands, I know how to be confident in my ability. For the past three years, my mindset has shown me that literally, anything is possible. I taught myself everything, and I believe that the most important thing to remember as an artist is to always believe in yourself. It might come across as arrogant at times, but it’s true.
On which projects did you work most passionately and why?
Definitely, my first album, which is filled with blood, sweat, tears, and above all passion. At the time, I had no idea I was going to record an album. It was simply me putting everything out there, which eventually came together on ‘geen oog dicht gedaan’. Writing and composing a new album is now less difficult and takes me less blood and tears. By listening to my first album I always go back in time to that same feeling it gave me. It takes me back in time and shows me where I came from and all of the progress I have made. All of this is due to believing in me and trusting that everything is possible.
What are the most important qualities for an entrepreneur in your opinion?
As an entrepreneur, I want to make next-level products that break barriers. You should create not just any product, but one that has the potential to change an entire generation. As Steve Jobs did with the iPhone. Not simply providing people a phone, but giving them something that transforms the way they live their life. As an artist, I desire that as well. That is why you will see me experimenting a lot in the studio, incorporating all of my life’s influences into the music. I genuinely want to provide something unique; it must have relevant material and be beneficial. What matters more, in my opinion, is how you deliver your product. How I present my work reflects my many inspirations and interests. I’m always on the lookout for the right visuals that visualize my style. Fashion is also an essential part of this. Fashion and music, in my opinion, cannot exist apart from one another. The process of putting together an outfit and the work that goes into selecting the right items can be compared to my process of putting together a song. It needs to be unique and appealing, which applies to everything in my life.
Coming back to your future projects, what is the foundation of 7Fest, and what distinguishes 7Fest from other festivals?
The key focus of 7Fest is unity. Zakaria el Khanza and I met at a clip shoot in 2014 we have been co-organizing events ever since. The knowledge of Zakaria is essential in the establishment of 7Fest. Zakaria has been organizing events since 2012, in 2015 at Arena Park, Amsterdam, he organized his first own festival for 18,000 people. Our collaboration is successful because we have the same mindset. Our shared goal is to connect people and provide relief from the daily grind and inspire the youth. Growing up in the Hague’s in the Schilderswijk, a multicultural city, you get a taste of a variety of different cultures. You learn from friends from different backgrounds, other languages, new types of food, the many different ways people dress, with diverse hair and fashion styles, all of which come together at the Schilderswijk. That’s what we intended to do with our festival: bring diverse cultures together and promote unity. For this year’s editions, we are aiming to go even bigger with 25k visitors and it will take place in The Hague, for me, this means that everything falls into place. It’s a full-circle moment of togetherness.
The topic of our new magazine is balance, what does balance mean to you?
It actually means everything to me these days. There would be an instant breakdown if there is no balance in my life. You can’t do too much or too little; everything has to be balanced. Throughout the years I have learned the importance of this. I used to spend almost all of my time in my studio; if it had a shower, I would have lived there. Now I want to make better use of my time. Time became even more valuable to me after I had my daughter. If I don’t see my daughter for an extended length of time, I lose touch, I can’t be creative, and I get a bad feeling when working in the studio. This is why nowadays I take the time to experience life and learn to enjoy and take new energy from that. In this way, I will have more material to put into my music. If you don’t experience new things, you have said it all at one point. For example with my next exciting project; 7Fest I want to make sure it keeps me busy and I want to take energy from that, this I can only do if I manage my time. So actually you could say that my new life motto is “balance.”
All the information about 7Fest you can find here
Frenna – Francis Edusei
Picture by Jonathan Hoost
Interview & words by Aïcha Pilmeyer