Singer in Full Bloom

Frankie Rose steps out from behind the drums and into a new sound

April 4, 2012

Before she became a full-time musician, Frankie Rose was a bike messenger. For six years she rode through the streets of New York delivering packages and visiting art galleries between errands. “I could just roam around the city and do whatever I wanted,” she recalls. “Other than that, I don’t think I’ve ever kept a job for more than four months.”

Each day was different from the day before and the day after. She pedaled to different neighborhoods, encountering different people.

For the Brooklyn-based Rose, music has offered a similar respite from routine. She has played drums in numerous buzzed-about New York acts, including Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls. In 2010 she released her first solo album as Frankie Rose and the Outs. In January she followed it up with “Interstellar,” which dropped the Outs part of her moniker and represented a dramatic change in direction.

“Why would I want to make the same record twice or three times?” asks Rose, who plays Friday at Artisphere as part of a 20th-anniversary bash for cult music zine Chickfactor. “I want to learn and grow and understand the craft, and the only way to do that is to push yourself into trying new things.”

“Interstellar” represents a huge leap for Rose as both a songwriter and singer. Coming out from behind the drum kit, she delivers solid hooks on the tunes “Know Me” and “Daylight Sky.” On “Pair of Wings” and “Moon in My Mind,” her voice becomes almost synthlike, reinforcing the dreamy quality of the songs. But it’s far from today’s mainstream pop.

“When I think of pop I think of what I listened to as a kid, when Tears for Fears, the Cure and New Order were on the radio,” she says. She’s not just indulging in Reagan-era nostalgia, though: Rose turns her influences into something new and personal.

“It’s my goal to make an album that can’t be pinpointed” as to where it draws from, she explains. “My dream would be for someone to hear my music and say, ‘Oh, that’s Frankie Rose.’”

Inside Track: On “Know Me,” the first single from “Interstellar,” a processed drum sound recalls Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose.” But the shimmery synths, tender vocals and crunchy hooks reveal an artist transforming old sounds into something refreshingly new.

Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; Fri., 8 p.m., $25-$27; 703-875-1100. (Rosslyn)
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Mark Jenkins | April 4, 2012