Keyboardist/composer/producer/arranger David Frank is known as the founding father of electronic pop/R&B and half of the pioneering synth duo The System. Along with singer and partner Mic Murphy, they were best known for their innovative hits, the top ten R&B/dance hit “You Are In My System” and the number one R&B/number three pop classic “Don’t Disturb This Groove”. Frank’s post-System success includes songwriting/production/performance work on Christina Aguilera’s multiplatinum single,”Genie In A Bottle”. His genre’-spanning resume’ lists James Morrison, The Pussycat Dolls, OMAR, Jordin Sparks, Dream, Annie Lennox, 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Phil Collins, Steve Winwood, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton, Michael McDonald, Mick Jagger, Phoebe Snow, Keyshia Cole, Robert Palmer and many more… Read more
As evidenced by his exhaustive discography, Frank helped lay the foundation for synth-based pop music sound that’s still in vogue today on the music charts and heard in numerous music software emulations. He was an early adopter of the new compositional and sonic possibilities created through computer-based music technology. In the early 80s after acquiring the first sequencer and drum computer combination, he developed his own set of skills and deftly combined them with his impressive jazz/classical/R&B chops. Unabashedly embracing synthesized sound on its own unique merits, and not as a substandard substitute for natural musical instruments, Frank crafted a groundbreaking rhythmic and melodic perspective, that in the process, contributed significantly to a new style of pop music.
Frank’s love of music extends all the way back to his childhood where at age 5 he was playing classical music. His studies continued throughout his youth as a student at the New England Conservatory and later at the Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, an instructor brought in a copy of Wendy Carlos’ groundbreaking album “Switched On Bach”. Frank had already been experimenting with getting electric guitar sounds out of his Farfisa organ, and saw great creative potential in pursuing electronic musical directions.
After Berklee, David began playing in bands around the Boston area. The bass player in one of those bands brought in an ARP Odyssey synthesizer for David to play. The new sounds intrigued him so much that he brought one for himself the next day. Later, David moved to Manhattan to become a session musician. In the course of doing that, he began playing at weddings while amassing more keyboards including those manufactured by Oberheim: the X-A, the DSX sequencer and the DMX drum machine which in effect making David a one-man band.
A local studio owner called David to do a session for him in exchange for free studio time and suggested that he use to time to create a dance song. Knowing he needed a singer to do this, David initially wanted to use his upstairs neighbor and bandmate, a pre-stardom Madonna. Instead he called up another singer, Mic Murphy, whom he knew from his work as a tour keyboardist with Kleeer. A marathon recording session resulted in “In Times of Passion”.The next day, The System were signed to Mirage Records which was a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. “In Times of Passion” became both a radio and club hit in New York. The interest sparked enough interest for Mirage to give David and Mic an advance for an album. The album, “Sweat” launched club hits “Sweat”,”I Can’t Let Go” and the iconic “You Are In My System” which became a top ten R&B smash. Robert Palmer’s cover of the song became a mainstream rock hit. Becoming in-demand producers/songwriters ,they scored million sellers with Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You”, Phil Collins’ “Sussudio” and Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit”. They garnered movie credits, appearing on the soundtracks of two Eddie Murphy blockbusters, “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Coming To America”.
In the early 90s, David moved to Los Angeles where he opened his own recording studio, Canyon Reverb. Becoming fluent in the use of industry standards, Digidesign’s Pro Tools and Apple Logic Studio, David continued to push the creative envelope while becoming a part of the rich creative community that he found himself apart of in Topanga Canyon. Meeting songwriter Steve Kipner (Olivia Newton John’s “Physical”, Chicago’s “Hard Habit To Break”) through his publisher EMI Music Publishing, David found a good collaborator which resulted in a gold single for 98 Degress, “The Hardest Thing”. A&R exec Ron Fair sent David a tape of singer/label signee Christina Aguilera to see if the songwriter duo could come up with anything for. In the interim, David was contacted by UK songwriter Pam Sheyne whom friends of his had recommended.Co-written by David,Steve and Pam and co-produced by David and Steve, “Genie In The Bottle” went platinum during the summer of 1999, spending five weeks at number one pop. Christina received a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy nomination for “Genie in a Bottle”and won a Best New Artist Grammy. The album “Christina Aguilera” went platinum eight times over. The songwriting trio had another gold single with Dream’s “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not”.
In 2002, David signed as a songwriter to Universal Music Publishing. Around this time, he began traveling to London and Ireland to work with producer Steve Lipson, Wayne Hector, Marin Brammer and international singing stars Ronan Keating and James Morrison. He worked with acts here and abroad including Jojo, Liberty X, Boa, having top ten success with Westlife, O-Town, Ronan Keating and Jordin Sparks. David maintains a vigorous and creatively rich schedule that includes songwriting with top songwriters in Los Angeles, New York and London.
Biography courtesy of David Frank.
01 – Intro – The System – You Are In My System (Sweat, 1983)
02 – Snippet – Wendy Carlos – Simfonia To Cantata #29 (Switched-On Bach, 1968)
03 – The System – It’s Passion (Sweat, 1983)
04 – Angela Bofill – Can’t Slow Down (Let Me Be The One, 1984)
05 – Snippet – Phil Collins – Sussudio (No Jacket Required, 1985)
06 – The System – Midnight Special (Rhythm And Romance, 1989)
07 – The System – Heaven In Your Eyes (ESP, 2000)
Background music during the interview:
Peter Schmalfuss – Nocturne No. 8 In D Flat Major Op. 27/2, The Yardbirds – Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Wendy Carlos – Simfonia To Cantata #29, The Temptations – Cloud Nine, Aretha Franklin – Respect, Kleeer – De Kleeer Ting, The System – Sweat, The System – X-periment, Mtume – Juicy Fruit, Phil Collins – Sussudio, 98° – The Hardest Thing, Christina Aguilera – Genie In A Bottle, Omar – WhereverFollow @Soulinterviews