An interview by Jay DeFoore that appeared in the Daily Texan, the University of Texas student paper…
Permanent Frost: Lo-Fi country charmer, sans blue mohawk, comes home
Singer/songwriter Edith Frost has come a long way since the early ’80s when she wore a blue mohawk and worked behind the counter of Austin’s favorite headshop, Oat Willie’s.
Just looking at her, one would never guess the girl with the thin frame, wispy brown hair and sweet-as-honey voice could rock a punk haircut, much less a punk-’n'-roll club like Emo’s.
|live music: EDITH FROST
When: Saturday, January 23, 1999
Playing at: Emo’s
Opening: Lullaby for the Working Class,
Knife in the Water
Growing up at a time when punk, new wave and rockabilly were at the height of their popularity instilled in Frost a rebelliousness evident even in her sparse, acoustic arrangements.
A contemplation is found on her two records for Chicago indie label Drag City (home of like-minded artists Palace and Smog) that belies a wandering, both physical and spiritual. With elements of country and rock equally dispersed over her catalog , Frost has documented a career of unlikely artistic growth.
While in Austin, Frost dated musicians and dabbled in songwriting without ever committing to a vocation in music.
"I was writing here and there … more and more as I got older," Frost said.
Then in 1990 Frost left her home, a journey every artist must experience in order to gain perspective on his or her craft. Her travels took her to New York, a place often unkind to newcomers.
I was trying to be a musician in New York, and it was just really difficult," Frost said, "both with the people and with how you have to live. You end up having a smaller place and you’re busting your butt a whole lot harder."
Frost consoled herself by writing songs in her apartment, and before long she had enough original tunes to venture out of her home.
However, a performance for your houseplants is a completely different story than performing in front of a crowd of club-crawlers.
One night when she was at an open-mic night her friend was hosting, Frost was coaxed into taking the stage. The host claimed that he didn’t know the lyrics.
"He sort of tricked me into it, or I probably wanted to," she said.
Either way, her first solo performance was behind her.
Finally with enough songs built up to record a demo, Frost decided to send the recording out and see if she could generate any interest.
"I sent five [demo tapes] out at one time," Frost said. "I just came to this point where I had all these original songs, and I had a friend that was kind of egging me on to send out, to try it. And I was kind of wanting to just see what would happen. To just throw a few seeds out and see if anything became of it."
What became of it was a record deal with Chicago’s Drag City and her first album, Calling Over Time, a how-to lesson in lo-fi country charm.
For her sophomore effort, Frost enlisted Neil Hagerty of Royal Trux at her record company’s insistence. It was a bold move, but one that paid off.
"[Telescopic] is almost balls-to-the-wall compared to the last one," she said. "This one has really crazy drums and is plastered with drums."
Despite the noisier approach, Frost is pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
"It’s the same kind of feeling, emotionally, that you’re left with. It’s still me and it’s still my song, but it’s just a different approach."
After doing open mics in Austin, her first real Austin performance was at Emo’s last Mother’s Day. Fittingly, Frost dedicated a song to her mom, who was watching from the crowd.
"It was so funny and everybody was clapping for my mother," Frost said. "It was a really great feeling."
Despite constant touring for the past two years, Frost still feels pre-performance jitters.
"I still get self-conscious," she said. "I still have problems actually looking up in the audience’s eyes, but I’m a whole lot better."
For a homebody who likes the peace and quiet of her own place, Frost has been considerably open to her recent fanfare. The singer maintains her own Web page and has even tried to chronicle her dreams for the really obsessive fan.
"There’s a part of me that loves [the attention]. It’s fun because people want to talk to you. I like to talk."