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(Lauren Benson-Armer / The McGill Tribune)

Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost! goes solo

Arts & Entertainment/Music by

Alex Frankel has been hard at work. In May of this year, he released the nu-disco, 80s-nostalgia EP Crime Cutz with fellow Holy Ghost! bandmate Nick Millhiser. He’s featured on the Classixx single “I Feel Numb” and has performed with the group throughout the year, including gigs at Lollapalooza and on Last Call with Carson Daly. Along with brother Zach, Frankel recently opened up the wildly popular Frankel’s Delicatessen—a Jewish deli located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

And if all that wasn’t enough, on Sept. 30, Frankel quietly released his first ever solo EP, Negative Space. The retro collection features four tracks laden with a groovy, pop-funk sound and candy-coated aesthetics and its dance beats are reminiscent of “Do It Again” from Holy Ghost!’s 2011 self-titled album. Negative Space is catchy in a bubblegum pop way, taking aspects from modern pop and disco alike. 

When asked how it felt to produce his own solo music, Frankel emphasized  the importance of all the help he’s received.

“I wasn’t really alone. Technically, Nick was still involved in the sense that I would send him mixes […] and he was really helpful as an ear,” Frankel said. “I had a lot of people help out, [like] Ryland Blackinton [of Cobra Starship] and Dave from Chromeo.”

Holy Ghost! is known for its remixes, having produced two successful mix albums in the last few years and reworking songs by Phoenix, MGMT, and Moby. Remixing, in a way, has helped Frankel with his own music because it serves as a starting point for his creative output.

“We used the remixes as a real way [to] learn about production. We were really lucky […] to have friends who would ask us to do remixes,” Frankel said. “Whether it was remixing LCD Soundsystem or Phoenix, getting a look inside their session was really interesting and informative, and it certainly influenced our productions.”

Currently, Frankel is on tour with DJ duo Classixx through over twenty cities, having stopped in Montreal on Oct. 20 at Le Belmont on Saint-Laurent. It’s not Frankel’s first time performing as an opening act—in the past, he’s opened for LCD Soundsystem and Chromeo as part of Holy Ghost!. 

“I would give it all to Classixx for getting me out to do this with them,” said Frankel. “[Originally,] we were just going to come out and I was just going to sing [“I Feel Numb”] with them, and then Michael and Tyler [from Classixx] were like, ‘Dude, you should […] really play some of the songs you’re working on!’ [And then] everything came together so quickly.”

This fast-paced workflow certainly is a change for Frankel, as this is his first time performing alone and without childhood best friend Millhiser. 

“Most of the time an opening can be really hard,”  Frankel explained when discussing life as a solo artist. “The headlining band can be […] mean and purposely [disruptive], or won’t let you ride on their bus. But this has been sort of a dream. Compared to tours I’ve done in the past, this is very comfortable.”

During his performance, Frankel could be seen bobbing along to his own tracks, alternating between singing and playing the keyboard. Like his music, his presence is electrifying—his dancing invigorates the audience to dance along with him. Within a few minutes, the Belmont is transformed into a club-like scene. 

“I’ve been [to Montreal] probably like ten times,” said Frankel. “I love the Belmont. The last time I came here with Holy Ghost!, it was a really crazy, incredible show.”

He planned on stopping by his favourite Montreal haunts like Schwartz’s Deli, although now that Frankel has his own deli business in Brooklyn, it’s not too hard to compare the two. 

“Schwartz’s is great, [but] ours is better, if that’s what you’re asking,” he said, with a laugh. 

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