Local Current Blog

Artist to Watch: Fraea

Jessie Daley of FRAEA (Photo by Andrea Swensson/MPR)

On Saturday, August 20, the Local Show’s Artists to Watch event will feature 10 of my favorite up-and-coming acts in Minnesota performing across two stages at the Cedar Cultural Center. As we gear up for the showcase, you’ll be hearing from the performers in segments on the Local Show and here on the Local Current Blog.

Going to a band’s very first show can be a tricky thing. Oftentimes they are just figuring out their set-up, where they want to stand on stage, how they will interact with each other and the audience — and, oh yeah, how they want their live show to actually sound.

Fraea cast all those worries aside. Somehow, the duo of Drew Preiner and Jessie Daley managed to emerge fully formed. Last winter when they made their debut, they entranced the sold-out crowd at Icehouse with big, booming dance beats, note-perfect melodies, and captivating visuals splashed across the back of the stage. As I watched them, I just kept thinking, “How?” How did they have the patience to develop their show so completely before letting a single person see it? And how am I going to get that song “Criminal” out of my head, like, ever?

When I started putting together Saturday’s Artists to Watch show at the Cedar, Fraea were a shoo-in. They will be headlining the showcase, capping off our crazy flurry of 10 bands performing on two stages, and they are sure to dazzle.

  1. Listen Jessie Daley from Fraea talks to Andrea Swensson

Andrea Swensson: I am excited to talk to you today, because I’ve been following Fraea since your first show ever, but we haven’t actually gotten to sit down and talk about Fraea yet. Tell me about forming this band. Where did the seed get planted?

Jessie Daley: Well we were both coming out of projects and in a space where we’d been hungry, creatively and musically, but were getting a little lonely doing it ourselves. I was very lonely for a musical partner, and I reached out to Drew, who I’d met through a friend, and we had good chemistry, musically and personally, and had a lot of fun right off the bat. In the first few times we were together, we wrote “Criminal.” It was very instantaneous, electric music vibes between us.

I always wonder about that, when you’re looking for a new musical partner. I imagine a lot of it comes down to that chemistry that you can’t even really define.

Yeah. And we’d emailed for a few months before; mine were these long diatribes talking about what I wanted to do, and my process, and my background, and all these things. I think I had a lot of insecurities, starting out, working with somebody else when I’d been kind of quietly, secretly doing it for so long; writing songs all alone and sharing them with a few people that I trusted. We went back and forth for a couple months and had never met face-to-face, and you know, that could have gone any way. The first time I went to his place to record I was like, I hope he’s not crazy. What am I getting into? Then it was just instant. He put me at ease. He’s got a really wonderful spirit, and just really loves music, so it was easy to sit down and write with him, and create with him.

Some people may be familiar with your voice already, since you were singing in Roma di Luna for the last couple years of that band. Is this your first project where you are front and center, taking the spotlight?

Yeah, you know I did form a band for a short period of time — I think we played one show, when Roma di Luna was taking a break. And it was fun to work with other people, and play a show, and put some of those ideas and words out into the world. But timing wasn’t quite right. And this time, it was!

One thing I find really interesting about Fraea is that it seems very intentional. You guys definitely cooked this all the way before you brought it to the public. That’s why I was so impressed with that first show — it was already so polished.

I’d say we were pretty deliberate with the way we did things. I can credit Drew for that. Because I’m much more fiery and quick with the way that I want to get things done, and he has been really good at putting the breaks on at the right times, and telling me, “Let’s let this form a little more, let’s let this take shape a little more.”

Tell me more about the live presentation, and what people can expect on Saturday.

Well, our process has been an evolution. We started out as a full band, and we’ve slowly kind of gone into a two-piece format. With him and I being as close as we are musically, I think we do have a lot of energy together on stage, so the duo format makes sense. It’s a lot more vulnerable, I think. It’s a lot more stripped-back, bare bones, and us as we are.