If there could be a soundtrack to singer-songwriter Dia Frampton’s life in the past ten years of her career in the music industry, that soundtrack would culminate into the project of what is now known as Archis.
Archis, a collaboration between Frampton and accomplished film composer Joseph Trapanese (“Tron,” “Oblivion”), merges the symphonic instrumentation of the orchestra with pop vocals.
For anyone who has followed Korean-American singer Frampton’s career, you would know that she has co-fronted the popular alt-rock band Meg & Dia with her older sister Meg from 2004-2012. She has been signed to the independent label Doghouse Records and then to major label Warner Bros, only to get dropped and her band forced to go independent again.
In an act of hesitation, Frampton reluctantly decided to audition for the inaugural season of “The Voice” in 2011, unexpectedly winning on Team Blake Shelton and becoming the runner-up. Since then, Frampton has struggled to find her next move.
Two years since marks the birth of this project and, last Monday night, the Archis team was more than ready to release their debut six-song EP.
With a live orchestra full of crooning strings, loud brass instruments, light woodwinds and thundering percussions, Trapanese led his nine-piece orchestra from behind Frampton, who wielded the mic with back-up vocalists David and sister Meg beside her.
In the 100-seater Swing House Studios rehearsal room, tucked away in Los Angeles’ Atwater Village, Frampton said with a notion of gratitude, “This is the release day of Archis and we’re so excited that you guys came and shared this moment with us and gave us your time. This is a really special time for us.”
Playing two sets that night, one at 6:30 p.m. and the latter at 9:30 p.m., industry friends, label mates and long-time fans and supporters came to show their love and support for Frampton.
Donned in all-black attire and playing to slow, richly textured instruments, Archis let the music play out naturally, giving enough time and space to create a particularly moving soundscape. The contrast of the horn-section paired with Frampton’s warm and angelic voice is unusual, but works.
Frampton opened with “Blood,” which Frampton notes was written at one of her lowest points. “Blood” is an emotional song tinged with elements of hope, marching drumbeats, an increasingly crooning horn-section and Frampton’s piercing vocals. Following with “Black Eye,” a rather uplifting song with strong brass sounds and pop appeal, Frampton sweetly sings, “Do you know how much I love you?”
“Bittersweet,” a beautifully haunting tune that lingers in the listener’s ears as Frampton sings, “Take these tired wings/ Home is calling you to sleep,” follows. Deeply internal and nostalgic, the song carries the message of moving onward, keeping memories of happy tears close and forgiving past memories.
The second-half of the EP continues with the pop-friendly “I Need You,” which Frampton marches through with steady drumbeats and powerful notes of coming from a small town, battling nights alone and facing the rocky road.
“Good Love Lingers On” comes next, with Frampton’s heart-piercing vocals soaring over the richly symphonic strings and lightly-tapped keys, telling a tale of good love.
Closing with horn-filled, march-inducing drumbeats, “Let Me Love” is an anthemic song that hits listeners hard. Singing, “Love is all that I have so, let me love who I want/ All the dreams that I’m chasing break my heart then replace it,” Frampton powers through Trapanese’s thundering instrumentation, proving their collaboration sweet, dramatic and entirely epic.
“Any time you try and do something new, you worry about how things will go, what people will think, how it will all be remembered,” manager Mike Kaminsky notes.
“I know there was an anxiety through the night, but once we all saw that it was working, it was a lot easier to get through,” he said.
While the full-length album is set to release over the summer, the Archis show was “worth it for the experience,” even if the team had lost a lot of money doing it. They can only hope that with such a uniquely beautiful collaboration, people will keep talking about it.
For any fan of rich, heart-rending and film-like tunes, Archis deserves both your ear and hand. The EP is available to listen on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.