When improv-jazz guitarist Lucien Fraipont recorded the six-song EP Ages and Sun in his home back in 2013, he was baffled by the swift and affirmative feedback that followed. In an incredibly short span of time—less than a week to be exact—Fraipont rallied four other musicians to support him on stage at the large, European music festivals he had been invited to play. Those four musicians—one of whom Fraipont befriended at the age of seven due to a shared appreciation for Kurt Cobain—now comprise the Brussels-based, psych-pop band Robbing Millions.
Fraipont expressed an interest in music at a young age. His attraction to melodious and euphonic soundscapes continued into adulthood, as he studied jazz guitar and worked to perfect his craft. With Robbing Millions, however, Fraipont chose to stray from his expertise and pursue a musical project with psychedelic, alternative pop elements at the forefront. Although his jazz influences shine at points throughout the band’s discography, they certainly take the backseat.
Along with the band’s pop components, Fraipont offers his voice to an attentive audience for the first time. With Robbing Millions, he tries his hand at singing, and he does so without sacrificing the instrument that began it all for him.
“[There is a] different thing about the voice and you feel like it comes from your body,” says Fraipont. “You feel the music differently; you feel the vibrations in your throat. It’s very liberating for me.”
Interestingly, Fraipont approaches the lyrical aspect of Robbing Millions in English although he regularly speaks in French. He describes the writing process as somewhat infantile and nonsensical due to the language barriers he occasionally encounters.
“English is not my modern tongue,” explains Fraipont. “Sometimes, the words come not for their meaning, but for their sound. I speak French mainly, but for me English is a pop language.”
Harnessing these pop songs in a live setting, Robbing Millions have gained recognition for their energetic, dance-eccentric stage presence. Thankfully, a certain level of that spiritedness translates on their recordings. After the initial release of Ages and Sun, the band created their second EP, Lonely Carnivore. Like the first, Fraipont admits that the writing process began in a secluded way.
“I write most of the stuff at home by myself. It’s a pretty solitary process for me,” he explains.
“I record most of the instruments myself—drums, guitar, snyths, singing—and then I bring tunes to the band that we play all together. The composition process is me on my own and then it becomes a group thing when we hear the songs together.”
Once combined, the final products they fashioned prove more than rewarding for the quintet. Last year, Ancienne Belgique (AB)—a renowned venue located in historic Brussels—requested Robbing Millions’ company for their Artist in Residency program. The contemporary concert venue offers occupancy to artists they deem worthy of praise, but who have yet to find management or a record label willing to support their work. With Ancienne Belgique’s endorsement behind the band, Robbing Millions are headed in a well-deserved direction.
For the first time last month, Robbing Millions traveled to New York to play a string of shows for the CMJ Music Marathon. While there, they also met and recorded their anticipatory debut album with producer Nicolas Vernhes, known for his efforts with popular bands like Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter, and more recently, Wild Nothing and The War on Drugs.
Due out early next year, Robbing Millions’ first full length will feature more of the same beloved pop sounds that warmed so many at their start two years ago. The band continues to create playful, observant songs with a whimsical delivery.