FR333 is an Oakland based Hip-Hop duo comprised of producer, XOA, and rapper/vocalist, MADlines. XOA and MADlines recently dropped a new single entitled “Peaches” off their EP“TH3 BODY”, so it’s only right that we connect with them for an exclusive interview to discuss the song, the EP, their creative process for developing new music, the meaning behind “Goddess Trap” and much more.
After reading our Q&A with FR333, be sure to stream “TH3 BODY” on Spotify and connect with them on their social media.
Tell us about how you two met back in 2015 and what does the name “FR333” signify?
After working on her sonic craft for a while, Xoa was ready to shift into collaborating with other artists and begin to provide a platform for womxn/lgbtq musicians. She heard Maddy talking on the Bay Area radio station KPFA and thought they had similar motivations and interests. She decided to reach out and share a link to her instrumentals to see if Maddy would be interested in working together. We then arranged a meet up at a coffee shop and realized we had some shared roots in the Pacific Northwest, similar music tastes and intersecting visions for what we wanted to bring to hip hop. Afterwards, we began drafting songs for our first project.
The name FR333 represents an equilibrium between the mind, body and spirit. Caring for the mind is caring for the body is caring for the spirit.
Congratulations on the release of your second project “TH3 BODY” and the single “Peaches”. Of the four songs on the EP, why did you decide to release “Peaches”?
“Peaches” gets to the core of bodily healing. We know that healing our bodies is a deeply personal process. But as a band, we also realize that our country is currently coming to collective terms with the prevalence of sexual assault, harassment and rape in our society. So how do we grapple with these topics without tuning out? How do we deal and how do we heal? Sometimes we gotta dance. Sometimes we gotta cry. Sometimes we gotta speak up. Pop star Peaches influenced a lot of young feminists with her catchy anthem of sexual prowess, “F$%k The Pain Away.” The song pushed back against slut shaming. It was raunchy, catchy and inspiring. “Peaches” inspired us both.
MADlines was going through her own personal healing while writing the lyrics to the EP. She went through a difficult period last year, a period that caused her to get stuck in a trauma loop.
So, she began exploring how her body was impacted by trauma. With lines like, “used to love so hard/ I got lost in them clouds like Amelia Earheart/and they never found my body,” MADlines draws upon the dissociation that can arise from surviving sexual assault. But the tone of the song is still playful and sensual.
“Peaches” highlights this heartbreaking experience of bodies becoming numb, of forgetting. Some people might hear the song and think it’s simply a sexy track, but in reality, it touches upon sorrows that arise as we grief for our bodies. The chorus repeats “can’t tie me/ I defy gravity/ seen a whole lot/ still I move lightly” and in essence it challenges listeners to remain vulnerable even when facing the heaviness of hurt. We want people to hear the song and feel empowered.
Describe your creative process for developing new songs. How do you know when a song is complete?
Xoa will usually create the beginning of instrumentals that she’ll send to Maddy and see if she is feeling them. Then we’ll flesh it out more in the studio or create something new. There’s also been times where we have been commissioned to write music for specific content, so in cases like that our creative process becomes more guided by embodying the topics.
A song feels complete when you’re no longer thinking about what you need to add and the ride through the song feels smooth and free, a combination of technical and spiritual elements. But then there’s also times when you’ve heard the song too much and get stuck on it, so we’ll have some fresh ears hear it or ask for some suggestions from our studio engineer.
Tell us what “Goddess Trap” means in relation to your sound.
Goddess Trap is all about representing the feminine psyche within hip hop and conjuring the magic and hustle that comes from black womxn/lgbtq having to fight against many forms of oppression in order to survive. We also want to inspire listeners to reclaim their inner divinity and tap into their own forms of magic in order to heal from harsh realities.
How has Oakland changed since you two met in 2015 in regards to the increased cost of living and gentrification? Are these topics that you address in your music?
It is a blessing to be able to be an artist in Oakland. Although the Bay Area is one of the hardest places to make ends meet, there’s this level of innovation, diversity and vibrancy that’s unlike anywhere else in the world. MADlines moved to Oakland in 2011 and she came because of the fact that it was a historically black city. She wanted to tap into the musical legacy that already existed, she wanted to be part of the community and of the solution. Over the years she learned a lot from local artists, she built bonds with social justice activists, and she continues to prioritize working with musicians that are from here. TH3 Body features two artists from the Bay Area, RyanNicole and Honey Gold Jasmine. Sadly, since MADlines moved in 2011, Oakland has lost over 30% of its black population and rents are only increasing.
As a band, we’ve touched on the topic of economic hardship in our last EP, TH3 MIND. The song “Endz” deals with the day to day hustle of being a working artist. It is hard to be an artist with a passion for creating but an obligation to make basic ends meet. Thankfully there are also a lot of amazing opportunities here in Oakland. For example, we recently completed a Zoo Labs residency, which allowed us to learn more about the business of making music. We also received free studio time, which made it much easier for us to create what we love.