Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn

Photography: Jack Grange / Interview & Words: Tom Everest
17th July 2019

Homegrown Brighton-based duo Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn are two guys that you want to be mates with. The pair, who first started making music together as 15-year-olds, not only have a unique and enchanting sound that combines elements of hip-hop and early garage with composed, real-life lyrics but they have an irrefutable energy. Beyond Frankie’s laidback yet playful deliveries and Harvey’s innovative production, the pair both have that sort of slick, sunny – refreshing, even – personality that warms you to them in an instant and makes you believe that their music comes from a genuine and authentic place. Individually they have their own strengths, quips and smiles but together they’re just better.

 

Funny, erudite and endearingly confident – like all talent 20-somethings should be – their attitude speaks of their position as one of the UK’s new breed of strong, self-determined musicians. You can tell they’re a pair who have always been destined to do this, which is reflected in the popularity of ‘Lakes’, their latest EP released in May this year, that has cemented Frankie and Harvey’s reputation in the UK music scene as the most dynamic of duos.

 

Last month, we took a trip down to the south coast to dig a little deeper into Frankie & Harvey’s relationship, to investigate the unique musical breeding ground of Brighton and to find out how Gareth Southgate has got them believing again…

Brighton is renowned for being a musical hub, for a long time thanks to its DIY guitar underground culture and DJs but now hip hop is earning that type of exposure too. How would you describe the city as a breeding ground for musical culture?

 

Frankie Stew (FS): Brighton’s always had good underground music going on, although it’s not one of the bigger cities, there’s still a thriving scene here and right now I think it’s in a good place. It will only keep getting bigger.

 

Harvey Gunn (HG) : It’s an interesting one because Brighton is definitely full of talented musicians but sometimes it does feel like its missing a solid, lasting scene.

 

How did the city inspire both of your creativity?

 

HG: I think the music people make is often a direct output of our lives and experiences so the place you live is always going to play a big part in that.

 

FS: We’re right by the beach, so that’s always a touch for me when it comes to writing lyrics.

 

How much has the city changed and grown with the success of having a Premier League football team for the last two years? Have you noticed a change?

 

FS: Yeah I think that’s a great thing, I get up to the Amex as much as possible, having it on your doorstep is class.

 

When was the first time that you both realised you wanted to be musicians?

 

FS: Me personally I’ve always wanted to do this from as long as I can remember, I used to play drums too but from around 14/15 years old is when I discovered rapping.

 

HG: Since I started DJing and later producing. I’ve known that music was always going to be something that I did purely because I love it. That was about 10 years ago now!

 

When was the first time you fell in love with music? Is there any particular tracks that stick out from your childhood?

 

FS: I think I must have been about 16 years old. Discovering U.K. hip hop and grime properly was a huge part of my teenage years.

 

HG: It’s really hard to pinpoint a moment if I’m honest. I grew up on the early 2000s mainstream US hip-hop like Hov, Busta, Neptunes, Timbaland etc. When I went to secondary school it was all about grime, we didn’t really listen to much else. Later on I discovered UK hip-hop like Taskforce, Jehst, Klashnekoff and that discovery was what inspired me to start producing.

How did you first meet and what were your initial impressions of each other?

 

FS: We met through mutual friend really, probably close to finishing school. Brighton is a small place and we had quite a few friends in common. Wasn’t sure of him when I first met him, nah I’m joking we’ve been good mates for years now.

 

What was the time period between you guys first meeting, linking up and collaborating on making music together?

 

FS: We started to make musically straight away from when we first met, Harv was a local producer and I was already putting a couple of tracks out so we just partnered up.

 

Your star as a duo is massively on the rise, but when did music first become a viable career for you?

 

FS: Couple of years ago we both decided to take it really seriously. It’s still progressing too which is cool, the older we get the more fun I’m having with it all.

 

HG: This year it became a viable career I’d say.

 

What do you believe to be the biggest strengths of each other?

 

FS: Harvs has got a great ear for music in general. Some of the stuff he comes up with is a madness.

 

HG: Franks always keeps his sense of humour, even through the rough.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve learned along the way?

 

HG: No one owes you anything.

 

FS: Tunnel vision theory. Be aware of what’s going on around you but don’t stop and obsess over it, just crack on with your own thing.

 

Your music feels like it has incredible depth – which is a testament to you two as a creative duo – as each new song has a plethora of layers that you draw away through the song. How do you construct each track you make?

 

HG: We always start with the beat. I’m constantly working on new material and as soon as I have something that I think has legs I send it over to Frankie. If he’s on the same page he will write to it then we will link up and structure, record and finesse it into a demo. Then I’ll go away and take it from a demo to a finished product.

 

FS: The beat comes first most of the time, I like to think of the occasional lyric on the train or something and write it down on my phone, but apart from that I much prefer to write to the music.

If you could pick three Frankie Stew x Harvey Gunn tracks that you feel symbolise different aspects of your personality, what would they be?

 

HG: Coconuts is definitely the party boy side of me, Grateful is the sweet boy side and Fabric is somewhere in the middle.

 

Who would you like to collaborate with in the coming years? Who do you think you could align with creatively to create something spectacular?

 

HG: Timbaland

 

FS: Slowthai

 

What’s your relationship with football? How much did it impact and influence your life growing up?

 

FS: Massively, I’ve always played and watched football. I’m a huge Arsenal fan.

 

Do you still play football now? If so, how good to you rate yourself? 

 

FS: Yeah I play 6-a-side on Thursday nights. I’d compare myself to Torreira, always chasing things.

 

What’s been your favourite memory of the Premier League season just gone and why?

 

FS: Liverpool not winning the title… I just can’t deal with their fans.

We’ve come down to Brighton to see you – a very quintessentially and proud English place – how do you view the England national team right now? How mad was the summer…

 

HG: Best summer of my life.

 

FS: One of the best summers of my life… I was on holiday for some of the games too which was fun. Now, I’m looking forward to seeing what the Euros bring.

 

What’s been your favourite England memory?

 

FS: The most recent World Cup, getting to the semi finals was too much, loved it.

 

How and why do you think Southgate has managed to translate promise into practical success where others have failed?

 

FS: I think he’s more relatable than anyone we’ve had before. It looks like the players get on with him too which is great.

 

Who is your current favourite England player and why?

 

FS: Sterling… he’s constantly proving people wrong regardless of how everyone has been treating him. It almost goes back to my tunnel vision theory I mentioned earlier. Sterling’s been mashing up the Premier League for a while now and he deserves the attention and applause that he’s getting.

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