Frank Ocean has a lengthy discussions with GQ about his rise to fame, his success with "Channel Orange," and his open letters to his fans.
Frank Ocean hasn't done much press since his album Channel Orange, and his open letter somewhat detailing his sexuality. He was chosen as one of GQ's "Men of the Year," and in his interview with the GQ he speaks on his rise to fame, linking up with Odd Future and Tyler, the Creator and more.
Check out excerpts from the interview below, where he speaks on Channel Orange as well as his open letter and sexuality. Check out the full piece from GQ here.
GQ: Is it true that you wrote the songs for Channel Orange in three weeks?
Frank Ocean: Yeah, then I worked on them for nine months—a typical gestation period.
GQ: You're something of a perfectionist, I gather.
Frank Ocean: 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.
I never think about myself as an artist working in this time. I think about it in macro. I feel like Elton John just made "Tiny Dancer." He just made that shit like last night. Jimi Hendrix just burned his fucking guitar onstage. Right? Freddie Mercury just had the half mike stand in his hand in the fucking stadium. Prince was just on the mountain in "Under the Cherry Moon." And I was there. That's how I look at it. Like this shit just went down. You see the mastery that I'm surrounded by? How on earth am I going to take the easiest way? A friend of mine jokes that I have a painstaking royalty complex. Like maybe I was a duke in a past life. But all you have is 100 percent. Period.
GQ: Let's talk about your open letter on Tumblr. Posting that must've felt like the hardest way.
Frank Ocean: Yes, absolutely.
GQ: So why did you do it? Were some people raising questions about the male pronouns in a few of the songs?
Frank Ocean: I had Skyped into a listening session that Def Jam was hosting for Channel Orange, and one of the journalists, very harmlessly—quotation gestures in the air, "very harmlessly"—wrote a piece and mentioned that. I was just like, "Fuck it. Talk about it, don't talk about it—talk about this." No more mystery. Through with that.
GQ: So do you consider yourself bisexual?
Frank Ocean: You can move to the next question. I'll respectfully say that life is dynamic and comes along with dynamic experiences, and the same sentiment that I have towards genres of music, I have towards a lot of labels and boxes and shit. I'm in this business to be creative—I'll even diminish it and say to be a content provider. One of the pieces of content that I'm for fuck sure not giving is porn videos. I'm not a centerfold. I'm not trying to sell you sex. People should pay attention to that in the letter: I didn't need to label it for it to have impact. Because people realize everything that I say is so relatable, because when you're talking about romantic love, both sides in all scenarios feel the same shit. As a writer, as a creator, I'm giving you my experiences. But just take what I give you. You ain't got to pry beyond that. I'm giving you what I feel like you can feel. The other shit, you can't feel. You can't feel a box. You can't feel a label. Don't get caught up in that shit. There's so much something in life. Don't get caught up in the nothing. That shit is nothing, you know? It's nothing. Vanish the fear.