Evan Gabriel

Solitary Travelers: On the Town With Allan Kingdom & Franklin

In INTERVIEW on June 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm


On an overcast afternoon in Minneapolis, Allan and Franklin sit attentively in the back of an uptown coffee shop, both artists giving off an air of stoicism, and for good reason.

Following the release of their debut collaborative project, “Allan & Franklin’s Night Out On The Town EP,” these two have not only been putting in more work than many of their peers, but the majority of artists these days. Both tackle the roles that most record execs do (or promise to do) on their own, including writing, producing and marketing their music, shooting and editing music videos and more recently, moving into multimedia performance art.

Allan, whose mother is from Tanzania and father is from South Africa, was born in Winnipeg.

“When I moved to the U.S. people were like, ‘you aren’t really American, but you aren’t really African, but you aren’t really black.’ So from never really being at home, that’s just how I approached music now,” Allan says.

I ask how geography affects the work an artist creates.

“I would say that I’m always in a state of ‘I’m not really from here.’ No matter where I’ve lived I don’t feel like I’m from that place, so there’s really no boundaries,” Allan says, referring to his music.

Franklin, 24, shares this notion of displacement.

“I’m from Florida–Jacksonville and Miami,” he says. “For me, it just makes me think like a traveler. My eyes are always wide open, taking in details. A lot of times you can be somewhere and won’t even realize what color the walls are. But I always notice, I’m always paying attention to the color of the walls.”

Franklin first caught the attention of Allan through his production.

“He [Allan] already had this cult following here, but he came to me because he liked my production. It inspired me to write,” Franklin says.

Allan, 19, studied at Saint Paul Tech and IPR where he made his 2011 album, “Trucker Music.”

“He’s been making great music for a while now, he’s got some hits, well,” Franklin catches himself, “I don’t know if I should say hits, but music that’s really been catching people’s ears.”

Although first-listeners may deem “Night Out” as a Hip Hop EP, Allan and Franklin’s sound is less boom-bap and more Frank Ocean-modern R&B suave-style, amassed with electronically influenced composition. While creative input was equal on both parts, Franklin spent most of his time in the studio grinding out the production side of songs in addition to live instrumentation from Allan’s band, Remember The Planets.

Coincidentally, the one song that Allan produced on Night Out was the very one I had trouble with.

“What’s ‘the GOAT?’” I ask, referencing a line from the fourth track of the EP.

“Greatest of all time!” Allan laughs. “It’s basically about everyone being capable of this, you know this new generation here is capable of doing everything and that’s why I have that line: ‘I defend my side,’ because I’m biased and saying we’re the best.”

As for placing pen to pad, each artist has his own process.

“Right now I’m trying to train myself to write all day,” Franklin remarks. “While I’m walking, at the gym. When it comes down to it, all the writing really goes down in my room. It’s very personal.”

I look to Allan, who seems to be imagining his methods from a removed perspective.

“Throughout the day,” he answers with ease. “I usually come up with concepts as I’m doing things, concepts for songs or hooks. Sometimes I share them with other people, but then when I’m home and in my room I sit down alone and carve it out exactly how I want it.”

The Twin Cities locals have been building momentum to move into a wider realm of expression, shedding light on their shared notion of no boundaries.

“We want to be bigger than just music, that’s why we started Friends Only,” Allan explains.

Friends Only Records is a close collective that includes everyone from rappers to models looking for exposure, not to mention a female singer.

“We have a fashion guy, that’s just his forte,” Allan says. “Everyone is talented, and these were all the people we were working with anyway. Other people kept asking us, ‘what are you guys?’ ‘what’s the name of this?’ so we said, ‘lets just put a name to what we’ve already been doing.’”

“My goal is to tour with the theater show,” Allan continues, referring to the multimedia experience that was performed at the historic Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul. “Doing that by myself is hard,” he grins.

The theater show includes choreographed dancing followed by a 25-minute movie that was put together by the Friends Only collective. Segments from “Night Out” serve as the film’s score.

There are no signs of stagnation for these dynamic individuals. Franklin is working on a new project that he coolly attributes to being about women, but quickly pulls back.


“If I say that, people will jump on it. So I’ll just say it’s still in progress,” he smiles.

Allan has just shot a video for “Achilles,” a cut from his new album, “Talk To Strangers.” He adjusts his cap in excitement, describing his first time  working with an outside production team, who he describes as “amazing editors.”

“There’s no reason to give anybody a cut who doesn’t deserve it,” Franklin speaks up, describing the hangers-on that gravitate toward young artists like vines to a porch. “We’re on it, all ourselves. I know it’s going to work,” Franklin airs optimistically, breaking to take a sip from his sweet tea.

“The biggest struggle for people is knowing what you need,” Allan points out. “Most people go out and chase something that’s not going help them, something that they want. We know what we need. We have all the pieces, it’s only a matter of fitting them together just right.”

  1. Great piece! These guys exemplify the way forward–gotta be DIY these days. Interviewer does a fine job of pulling out defining details from Allan & Franklin. Looking forward to watching them develop.

  2. […] few months back I published an interview I did with Allan Kingdom and Franklin Bibiloni. Speaking with those cats was a lot of fun and I really believe in their philosophy. There’s […]

  3. […] release Talk to Strangers premiered along with an interview over at Mass Appeal. I also recommend this piece by GR contributor Evan Gabriel on his Waxed Out Blog if you’d like some more […]

  4. […] a year ago I interviewed Allan Kingdom, but from watching his growth since then, 2014 is looking like the best year yet for the Peanut […]

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