Interview: Frank Ocean From Oyster #103
The #HIRL Issue — on sale today!
For Oyster 103: The Hang Out In Real Life Issue, our new editor Zac Bayly caught up with our cover star Frank Ocean. The interview accompanies our world exclusive cover shoot by Frank’s video-maker Nabil Elderkin. Here's an excerpt and some of the highlights:
Frank Ocean did not want to do this interview. (In fact, for the first hour he thought I had called only to discuss the feature, and didn't realise I was actually interviewing him.) Sorry, Frank! "That’s cool," he said. "I'm happy to talk about whatever. Just make it good." Over the course of two hours we discussed all the usual things you might talk about with a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter — like the function of pants, Oprah's facial expressions, and selling crack in high school.
Zac Bayly: Where are you right now?
Frank Ocean: I'm at a store for pants.
What kind of pants are you buying?
Pants that hide my legs and my privates.
Those are usually the best kinds of pants.
[Laughs] They are.
I hate shopping for pants. It’s the hardest thing in the world!
Yeah, you can't just go and buy new pants. And then, when you discover the pants, it's this euphoric feeling all throughout your body, because you know you found the right pants [laughs].
Frank Ocean: …You know, I didn't ever have a disciplinarian in my creative life. As a young person I didn't have — for lack of a better word — I didn't have a Joe Jackson in my family. I didn't have that sort of overbearing stage-parent… Or, even, I didn't even have a parent who encouraged what I did in that way. And — don't bring out the string section. It's not really sad — what it did foster is… Well, my attitude was pure. I love to make music, and I love to write. It was writing first. I love to write and express myself in that medium, so that was the pure part — just the love of doing something, but there was also this fantasy of what the lifestyle would be and what the trappings of success would be. There are different little montage clips that you make up in your mind, like what a day in the life would be like once you're a fully grown whatever-you're-going-to-become, you know?
Zac Bayly: Yeah. I think every decision I make in life is based on a montage that I see in my head.
Frank Ocean: Yeah — yeah. I think that was me, but there was a transition — and it wasn't like I just woke up and had an epiphany, but it was a transition where I began to realise that if I didn't really begin to focus on the work, I couldn't see any way for me to become who I wanted to become. It just wasn't gonna happen. And then somewhere in that time of my life it was like… Instead of wanting to get to a certain level of fame or how much liquid assets I had under my name, it was more like, "How well can I develop my skill set?" You know? "How far can I push my creativity? If I'm gonna do this — if I'm gonna be a singer/songwriter — then OK, I'm a singer/songwriter, but how can I be the best?"
Frank Ocean: …What's your middle name?
Zac Bayly: My middle name?
My full name is Zachary Cameron Bayly.
Zachary Cameron Bayly. There was a bully in my elementary school named Bailey.
At my middle school, actually.
I wasn't him. I'm not a bully.
[Laughs] I didn't get bullied, but he was a bully. I was never a bully.
What were you like in school?
I was a thug. I sold a lot of cocaine and crack.
You sold cocaine and crack?
All the time.
I was not as cool as you.
You weren’t as cool as me?
I was reading Harry Potter.
Harry Potter is good.
Wait -- so you were reading Harry Potter and selling crack?
Read the full interview in Oyster #103: The Hang Out In Real Life Issue, on stands today!
Click here to see the full shoot by Nabil Elderkin!
Words: Zac Bayly