Photography: Eric Mooney
Delivering a breakout track that would find a fitting home on Madonna’s True Blue, “Dangerous” by New York-based sister duo Frances Rose is the ultimate saccharine sweet, ’80s-inspired single.
“Getting drunk on your roof, something dangerous,” the pair softly sings, their vocal tenor seemingly shy, despite the lyrics urging for a fearless love affair. “Outside, paint our names into the night; colors dry, evidence we leave behind,” they nonchalantly coo in a near whisper, joined by nostalgic production that will have fans of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion squealing.
We caught up with Sarah Frances and Michelle Rose ahead of their performance tomorrow at Baby’s All Right to talk about collaboration, inspiration and Shamir. Enjoy the BULLETT premiere of “Dangerous,” below:
How did you two form?
Sarah Frances: “We first performed as a sister duo at Bennington College. Frances Rose is our middle names combined.”
Michelle Rose: “At birth. We’ve been playing music together our entire lives, but when we moved in together to Manhattan, that’s when the band was officially formed [and] named.”
What was it like honing your sound?
SF: “I am fortunate to have grown up on the Beatles, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Grateful Dead and Michael Jackson from our parents. We also love Portishead, TLC, Green Day, Spice Girls [and] Britney Spears from our youth. Frances Roses encompasses analog synth-pop fused with alternative rock. We’ve done EDM features, ‘Questions’ with Chordashian/Jack LNDN. I love techno, but lately I’ve been listening to Maria Callas and Mozart.”
MR: “We’re inspired and influenced by everything from early Janet Jackson to the latest Carly Rae Jepson record. We used to perform to Janet Jackson in our childhood dance recitals. I love and DJ a lot of late ’80s early ’90s dance music. We’re also deeply influenced by ’90s alternative rock and grunge.”
Describe your collaborative process.
SF: “It’s a blood gift that we communicate so well musically. Michelle being classically trained on cello and me, violin, when we sing, our voices take on the roles of those instruments, falling back to those instincts. For ‘Dangerous,’ we worked together with Warner Chappell producers Noise Club. They have an amazing studio in Brooklyn. It was a co-write with Noise Club, Tyler Cordy and Matthew Doyle.”
MR: “We usually write each song raw and stripped back on an acoustic guitar, then take the writing to a friend/producer and build a palette of sounds collaboratively. We like to sing in octaves and our harmonies sound interesting since we’re sisters with similar timbres.”
How does being sisters affect your music?
SF: “Our speaking voices are quite similar. We have different vocal tones, yet we can sound exactly like each another if we want. It’s fun to work with someone you know so well because you have so many inside jokes, yet writing a good song together feels new every time.”
MR: “Sisterhood affects the music because it creates a unifying bond. We won’t quit the collaboration because we are so intrinsically connected. We know each other’s pasts, and if we’re sitting down writing a narrative song, we know our reference points because we know each other so well.”
Tell me the story behind “Dangerous.”
SF: “This song is about night swims in the summer, hopping fences, running away from the cops. It’s getting drunk on roof tops and making out. ‘Dangerous’ celebrates having a good time and feeling free. ‘Dangerous’ represents someone who wants a little danger in their life to make it feel right.”
MR: “The story behind ‘Dangerous’ is the feeling of getting involved with someone even though you know it’s risky. It’s about that gut instinct of wanting to be with someone who crosses boundaries—empowered females falling for a dangerous fuck boy.”
SF: “Yeah, it’s the heat of meeting someone new and knowing they’re bad for you, but it feels really good.”
Is it fair to say the ’80s is an inspiration?
SF: “Yes, I’m heavily influenced by Bowie, Cocteau Twins, The Smiths, early Madonna, George Michael, Boy George [and] Paula Abdul. I grew up in the ’80s, barely.”
MR: “If I was trapped on a desert island with the choice of one album, it would be the Immaculate Collection by Madonna.”
You recently worked with Shamir on a track and performance. Tell me more about that.
MR: “Shamir lived in an artist residency in Brooklyn with a friend of mine, and we met through that. I was changing my outfit and left my pair of Mickey Mouse mom-jeans on the ground. He borrowed them and brought them on his European tour. We kept in touch through our sister-hood of the traveling pants.
Shamir has an amazing spirit. He came to our show at Baby’s All Right with Allie X, an artist we love. After the show, we ended up writing a song in Greenpoint, kind of impromptu. We got to perform with Shamir at Bowery Ballroom in November, he reached out and decided we [should] play the song live for his encore. It’s kind of a ’60s doo-wop. Sarah accompanied us on electric guitar, and Shamir and I sang the duet.”