In GQ’s new Men of the Year issue, Frank Ocean gives a rare, wide-ranging interview that, as far as I’m aware, is the first in which he touches on the whole coming out thing in-depth. And, as are most things involving Frank Ocean, it’s quite interesting. Here are the five takeaways I found most interesting of all from the interview.
Ocean on posting his coming out note to Tumblr…
The night I posted it, I cried like a fucking baby. It was like all the frequency just clicked to a change in my head. All the receptors were now receiving a different signal, and I was happy. I hadn’t been happy in so long. I’ve been sad again since, but it’s a totally different take on sad. There’s just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.
Ocean on fearing that coming out would derail his career…
I had those fears. In black music, we’ve got so many leaps and bounds to make with acceptance
and tolerance in regard to that issue. It reflects something just ingrained, you know. When I was growing up, there was nobody in my family—not even my mother—who I could look to and be like, “I know you’ve never said anything homophobic.” So, you know, you worry about people in the business who you’ve heard talk that way. Some of my heroes coming up talk recklessly like that. It’s tempting to give those views and words— that ignorance—more attention than they deserve. Very tempting.
Something I personally find fascinating: Ocean did Sheetrocking work on storm-damaged homes in the New Orleans area to earn the money he saved to move to LA and embark on his music career after Hurricane Katrina.
I had been putting together these demos that I was going to properly record in a real studio in L.A. So I saved up money doing Sheetrocking, and I drove out with my girlfriend at the time. I was only supposed to be there for six weeks. I don’t feel like I ever made a conscious decision to stay six years. You just kind of roll. The first four and a half years was me in the studio every day, writing songs for other people. I had jobs, too—eleven jobs. I worked at Kinko’s, Fatburger, Subway—I was a sandwich artist—and I was a claims processor at Allstate Insurance.
Ocean on being a perfectionist…
John Mayer and I were talking in rehearsal before SNL, and he was like, “You love to take the hardest way. You don’t always have to.” But I don’t know about that. It’s like Billy Joel says in that song “Vienna.” When the truth is told / That you can get what you want or you can just get old. We all know we have a finite period of time. I just feel if I’m going to be alive, I want to be challenged—to be as immortal as possible. The path to that isn’t an easy way, but it’s a rewarding way.
Ocean on how he got his big break…
One night, I went to a listening party just to pick up my backpack from a friend. Next thing I know, I’m in this studio, and everybody’s putting their laptops on the pool table, playing songs through these big-ass speakers. It was crazy. And they wanted me to play, so I plugged in, and they were like, “Oh shit.” There were producers there, and they said, “You should come up to the studio and write.” So I did.
Just goes to show you that having talent is obviously important, but it also doesn’t hurt to be in the right place at the right time.
One other tidbit: Ocean says he wrote a song for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, which was filmed in and around New Orleans. CAN’T WAIT!
(Pic: Peggy Sirota/GQ)