Storefront Church | A Kaleidoscope of Emotions In New Single “La Langue Bleue”

A Conversation With Lukas Frank on His Upcoming Album

Written by

Alexa Bournazos

Photographed by

Silken Weinberg

Styled by

Kat Typaldos

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Possessing the remarkable ability to capture a kaleidoscope of eras and emotions, LA-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Lukas Frank utilizes music as an outlet for anger, sadness, and joy. “I go through great pains to orient myself towards the life that’s in front of me, and the people that are around me, but there’s a very real, very important voice inside me that is very angry about the world I live in, even if the life I lead in that world is a beautiful one,” Frank explains. This voice translates through the slow-flowing tempo and lush, melancholic melodies of his music.

Frank began his career as a session musician at 18 and later spent time as a touring drummer for artists like  Portugal. The Man. His debut album was released on Sargent House with one of the singles appearing in the Netflix original series: the Queen's Gambit. In 2017, Frank officially began his career as a solo artist with the creation of Storefront Church. Storefront Church is Frank’s surreal, dark, and cinematic solo music project inspired by Pink Floyd and Scott Walker. The project is a celebration of community and a search to expand it. His debut EP titled “Storefront Church” was a collaboration of artists, or fellow friends, Marshall Vore (Phoebe Bridgers), Bram Inscore (Twin Shadow), Waylon Rector (The Drums, Alaska Reid) and engineer Cassidy Turbin (BECK, Tashaki Miyaki). In June, Frank will release his sophomore album for Storefront Church, with the first singles releasing in March. In this new album, Frank evolves his sound, approach, and ambition in his work to push his boundaries and reflect upon his current state. 

Frank’s most recent project “La Langue Bleue”, a song for AMC’s Monsieur Spade, was a pivot from his individual music. The song– being entirely in French– transports its audience through time and space, while still feeling groovy and current. Storefront Church also recently released a single featuring Phoebe Bridgers. The single, a cover of Low’s 1994 track “Words”, is a tribute to late vocalist and drummer Mimi Parker. 

Flaunt spoke with Lukas Frank about creating “La Langue Blue”, his upcoming album, and his current creative process. 

As I listened to "La Langue Bleue", I couldn’t help but feel as though it were transporting me through time – as if time were not a constant but ever evolving. How has time played a role in the song’s creation?

Time was the starting place for this song.  It had to feel like it could exist in the 60s, and it had to be in French, which set the parameters pretty narrowly in terms of what it could sound like.  I wanted to make sure it would feel right at home in a show with all period appropriate music, but the challenge was making something that still felt new enough and interesting and not too derivative of the people we were inspired by (Jean-Claude Vannier and François De Roubaix were the big ones).  

You spent some time working with Laetitia Sadier on "La Langue Bleue" for AMC’s Monsieur Spade. Can you reflect on that experience and how it’s shaped your viewpoint going into your upcoming record. 

My upcoming album was done and collecting dust by the time I got to start working on this song.  Making that album informed making this song, though, for sure just in terms of capability.  I had just come off making this gargantuan hour plus orchestral record, and now we needed this groovy little french-noir thing.  It felt like a fun change of pace, and a good excuse to ask my childhood buddy Henry Kwapis to work with me on something. Working with Laetita was surreal, I put off asking her to do it for months because I was certain she’d pass.  She signed on almost immediately.  How has that experience shaped my viewpoint? Well, how could I not feel optimistic after that? 

There’s a story being crafted when listening to a film score – something that can delicately shape the way one feels about what they’re watching. What story was “La Langue Bleue” writing for you?

The process for making this song was in two parts: Henry Kwapis and I wrote and recorded the music, then Laetitita came in and wrote the lyrics and vocal melodies.  I’ve started doing a lot of film scoring work recently, and this project felt a lot like that– you’re not writing the story, you’re setting the tone for it.  This show already has a score, and tone in spades (no pun I swear to god), so it was about fitting in with what’s there, and fitting right in with their story. The show has as many hard-boiled, dull-eyed one-liners as it does genuinely disturbing moments, so finding something that felt appropriate for both was the goal and I think this song achieves that. 

The lyrics in both your solo work and work with Laetitia Sadier is deeply felt and somewhat somber. When creating music who do you write for? Likewise, how have you found solace in what’s being written?

Laetitia gets all the credit for the wonderful lyrics in La Langue Bleue, but when I write for Storefront Church I have to write for myself.  I don’t know what anyone else wants, and whenever I try to guess I’m always wrong.  Luckily I have a lot of different versions of myself so it’s always interesting figuring out who to please and how.  I don’t think I necessarily find solace in the music I write, sometimes I learn things about myself though.  The lyrics that I tend to gravitate towards are the ones that don’t make any sense to me as they're coming out, but years later looking back at them they sometimes sort of reveal themselves to me in ways that can be illuminating.   

There’s an almost haunting melancholy in your music, something so profound and abstract yet so alive. How do you find yourself leaning into the chaos of modern time and how has that influenced how you create?

Big question.  Woof.  I don’t know if I’m leaning in or leaning out or swimming with or swimming against…  I will say there’s a fine line between acceptance and apathy.  “The chaos of modern time” as you put it has me feeling a constant sense of emotional whiplash if I give it too much weight, so I have to accept.  I go through great pains to orient myself towards the life that’s in front of me, and the people that are around me, but there’s a very real, very important voice inside me that is very angry about the world I live in, even if the life I lead in that world is a beautiful one.  Music seems to be the place where that voice gets to have its time on the soapbox.  

As you enter this new era, pushing boundaries you’ve become accustomed to must have been a goal. How have you challenged yourself and your sound with what’s coming next?

I’ve recently befriended Alan Wyffels from Perfume Genius, a band I’ve always loved.  When I forced him to listen to the new record he said “Okay so you wrote like your eighth record for your second record.” I think there’s a huge leap in quality, sound, approach and just overall ambition between this record and my first.  There’s a whole fucking live orchestra on every song and I don’t really know how to write for an orchestra.  It’s totally ridiculous and I’m absolutely in love with it and it was also a bitch to make.  In the process I lost my record label, spent my life’s savings, borrowed money from way too many people, spent six months in the woods in Connecticut having weird fever dreams and I didn’t even come out of it with a For Emma Forever Ago, so in that way specifically it was a failure, but in every other way a success.  It’s so hard to make something you truly love.  This was the first time for me.  I’m ready for it to be out, it’s been five years in the making. 

What does the term “presence” mean to you when creating?

I have a lot of voices vying for control in my head.  I think identifying which ones I’m going to give weight to when making something is always the goal.  Presence for me is about being cogent enough to identify which parts of myself are serving me and which ones are trying to serve me and failing, maybe even letting those ones have their say anyway, but they don’t get to run the show– Not while we’re sitting at the piano! 

Photographed by Silken Weinberg

Styled by Kat Typaldos 

Creative Direction: Jess Hannah Révész

Styling Assistant: Tony Soto

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Storefront Church, Lukas Frank, Music