Words by Sarah Vasquez. Photos provided.
Frank and Derol is an adorable indie electro-pop duo often described as Wilson Phillips meets the Postal Service. After a quick glance at the band’s roster, one name sticks out: that of guitarist Brandi Cyrus. In case you’re wondering, yes she is the sister of Disney queen Miley Cyrus. It’s no secret that the Cryus family is musical: father Billy Ray’s had a ’90s hit single with “Achy Breaky Heart,” Miley reached huge success with Hannah Montana and brother Trace has his own band Metro Station, it only seemed natural that Brandi had a band of her own.
However, the first time you meet Frank and Derol, Codi Caraco and Ms. Cyrus both are friendly and approachable, never once namedropping the famous connections nor expecting the red carpet to be rolled out for them. The duo sat down with me to discuss their band as well as the upcoming album they are working on.
How did you meet?
Codi: My brother actually plays guitar for her sister. We met randomly at a concert backstage really, really quick a few years ago. Then a year ago, we kind of re-met and got together to write music and the rest is history.
For those who haven’t heard your music, how would you describe it?
Brandi: Well, we always just call it indie pop because obviously it’s very pop, fits into that mainstream market really well but we also have a lot of indie influences. We have some blues and some different aspects of it that give an indie-ish vibe. Like a unique vibe, you know?
Codi: It’s very dancey live too. We have the dance-vibe factor in it so it’s fun.
How do you pull off your music live with just you two? Is it more stripped down so to speak?
Brandi: Well, we have guys that are in our band with us so we’ll play with a bass player and a drummer.
Codi: I play keys. We both play instruments and sing so it helps that one of us isn’t just a singer.
Brandi: Yeah, so I play electric and acoustic guitar so it’s pretty full. Sometimes we play with some loops but a lot we have played acoustic. I feel like everyone can ask me that first. We just went on a tour in December and played acoustic. It really works either way. We’ve had people love seeing it as just the two of us and really broken down. Then people love the full band too. So it’s good. It both works.
It’s obvious who your sister is. What I love though is I heard the music before I learned the background of the band. So you’re doing something right.
Brandi: Yeah. Obviously, everyone in my family loves music. Trace is in Metro Station. My dad has a career and we all support each other and it’s great. When we’re home, we play together. We write together.
Codi: Everyone’s music is so different.
Brandi: Yeah, everyone’s music is different and I feel like we all have like our own path too. You know, like Miley’s career is so different than what Codi and I want. Like Trace’s got his own thing too and I don’t know. It just works. We’re all so supportive but it’s just all different. So there’s really no competition.
It seems that you don’t want to be known as your sister’s…
Brandi: That’s why we’ve been doing things on our own for a bit instead of just signing our life away right away. We wanted to be who we are and make the music we want without someone expecting something from us or try to make us something we’re not. I feel like the way we’ve approached it has been really good and I feel good about it.
Are you recording an album? You have an album out?
Codi: We don’t have an album right now. We have a little five song homemade…
Brandi: …that we pass out. We give it away to people that want to hear but a goal for the summer is to have an EP out by the end of the summer.
Are you going to be doing this by yourself or are you going to have a producer?
Brandi: We’re really blessed to have a lot of people who want to help us out and want to work with us. We got some producers in LA that are really stoked on us and we absolutely love working with them. So I think they’re going to do a few songs. We have so many friends that are so talented that we work with also so it’s not hard. It’s been really good.
And what do you think fans can expect from that album musically?
Codi: Next level. Next level Frank and Derol.
Brandi: I feel like we write really good songs. But when we work with producers who have been around and worked on some good stuff, I feel like the production of it is just like that next level so I feel like it’ll still be us. It’ll still be our sound, but the production will just take it above what we’ve been able to do which I think is important.
What do you think she brings to the band musically or personally? And you’re going to do the same for her.
Codi: She is awesome on guitar and when we sit down together to write a song and when I have her there with me, it just like I feel more just comes out. She’s a great lyricist and she writes a lot.
Brandi: I taught myself to play guitar, so I don’t play by ear really that well but she can spit out a chord and I can play it. But Codi is completely trained by ear and she’s such a talented musician. She’s been playing since she was like three or something crazy. She’s just so talented in that way that I’m not. It’s like something I have that she doesn’t and I feel like we have that a lot. Like all her strengths are weaknesses of mine and my strengths maybe weaknesses of hers and that’s perfect because we balance each other out really well.
What else should people look for?
Brandi: Hopefully people can catch us on tour. Maybe at the end of the summer. We want to try to jump on a pretty good size tour. Hit up the east coast which we haven’t been able to do yet.
Codi: Yeah, that’d be awesome.