Amindi K. Fro$t is peak SoundCloud, in the best way possible

And her dancehall smash “Pine & Ginger” is one of the best pop songs of the past year.

February 16, 2018
Amindi K. Fro$t is peak SoundCloud, in the best way possible

“Pine & Ginger” has already taken Amindi K. Fro$t many places. She posted the breezy dancehall song — which she made with Orlando-based producer Valleyz and fellow Jamaican artist Tessellated — to SoundCloud a little over a year ago. Since then, she’s performed the track all over Los Angeles: from the trendy all-ages art-gallery-slash-music-venue Junior High (where she was once an intern) to the hallowed green room of The Roxy Theatre (where artists like Prince and Bob Marley performed early on in their careers, too). The song has also taken her and her collaborators to Jamaica — twice. One trip to film the music video (a lush and colorful addendum to the track), and another to play at Kingston’s New Wave showcase.

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The young alt-pop singer and songwriter — she just turned 18 this past October — was born and raised in Los Angeles, which means she’s navigated the city’s music scene with a spatial and cultural familiarity that her transplanted peers have difficulty grasping. She’s privy to the interior knowledge of backyard concerts and underground, counterculture music venues. But it’s the internet that’s enabled Fro$t to pursue music from a young age. She was a high school freshman when she posted her first song to SoundCloud. Three years later, teen culture mag Rookie was premiering the DIY music video for “Wet Jeans,” an alt-pop single that evokes the sweetness of a lethargic spring afternoon.

Fresh off the high of her Roxy performance and the thrill of getting all of her friends backstage passes to the legendary venue, Fro$t talked to me about “Pine and Ginger,” being a “SoundCloud artist,” and the early success of her very young (and likely very long) career.

What was the inspiration behind “Pine & Ginger?”

Every year around Christmas time, my mom makes a traditional Jamaican drink with pine and ginger, like Jamaican fruit punch. When I wrote the song I was home alone and I was drinking pine and ginger. [My producer] Valleyz had sent me the beat like two or three days prior. He named it “Pon Di Ting,” because it was literally him trying out dancehall for the first time. He was like, “I don't know how this is, but if you like it, you can sing on it.” That’s how I got “wine pon di ting.” If you listen to the song, [pine and ginger] really has nothing to do with the overall meaning.

“Pine & Ginger” is just a feeling.

Yeah, exactly.

What’s happened since the song came out?

A lot of weird stuff. I got to buy a car. I got to go to Jamaica. I got to go to Jamaica again and perform “Pine & Ginger” with everybody that was part of the song. I did a Noisey interview. I’m doing a FADER interview. You would have no idea who I was if “Pine & Ginger” didn't exist. I would have never performed at The Roxy.

When did it start to feel like things were suddenly picking up for you?

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I'm a SoundCloud artist. I'm so proud of being built off of SoundCloud. But I would make music with this guy named Dapurr, who was my friend from my high school, and he was dating this YouTube-famous girl. Every time we posted a song, she would repost it, and it would get a lot of traffic. So in high school — sophomore, junior year — I was already getting hundreds of thousands of plays.

I feel like there's different levels of “picking up.” Like, my first 100K plays [on SoundCloud] was the first time I felt like I was picking up. I was like, “Oh, you guys can't tell me nothin'. I can monetize my songs now.” “Pine & Ginger” was the first song I'd done in a while. I didn't expect it to get the reaction that it did. We signed it to Warner, and eventually it got signed it to Atlantic. Every time something different happens, I'm like, This is it. It's not even the climax yet, it's just more rising action.

Did Warner send you to Jamaica?

Yeah. The first time we were sent to shoot the music video. And then we went again, in December, because there was this cool little music festival in Jamaica. It sold out. There were like 800 people there — which was a lot. It's not the Hollywood Palladium or whatever. But Jamaica is such a tough crowd because if they don't like you, they will let you know. They're so ruthless. But they were sweet to us.

Did you ever live there?

No. The first time I ever got to go was because of Warner. [My family] was always like, “Yeah, we'll go, we'll go.” But we didn't have the money for it. We didn't have passports. My parents came to America for a better life, and we're still middle class, we're a middle class family, we're not rich. So it was just hard to do things for fun, you know, like spend money to go [to Jamaica]. So “Pine & Ginger” was a blessing in a lot of different ways.

What was it like playing in your parents' hometown?

It was super cool. I have a brother out there, on my dad's side, an older brother. And the first time I actually met him face-to-face was when we went out there for the video. And he came with our aunt and his girlfriend to the show, which was really cool. I got to give them VIP passes.

What a flex.

[laughs] I know.

“From fourth grade I’ve just been ascending, honestly.” — Amindi K. Fro$t
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When did you first start making music?

I've always been a really good writer. I remember my second grade teacher telling my mom, “You're daughter's going to be a writer.” I convinced myself that I couldn't sing, so I would always rap. I would write poems and rap, and I would perform them for my friends.

In eighth grade, my school was offering ukulele lessons, but I was like, I can't rap on ukulele — so I tried singing. In ninth grade, when I started high school, they gave every freshmen iPads. I started messing around on GarageBand, making beats. In ninth grade, I put up my first song on SoundCloud.

Do you know Miles Heizer? He's from 13 Reasons Why? He was making SoundCloud music and I was watching Parenthood, which he was on. I loved Parenthood. I was like, Why is he following me? Then he reached out to me and he was like, “Can I remix your song?” That was my ninth grade. Imagine that being your first experience putting out your song on SoundCloud and then having somebody you look up to say, “Hey, I wanna remix this.”

SoundCloud was pretty young then, too.

It was probably a year or two when I was a freshman. Through SoundCloud, I met Valleyz, who released “Pine & Ginger” and my other song, “Wet Jeans.” I would be nothing without the internet. I'd be making YouTube videos without SoundCloud, doing covers.

So it's just been a steady glow-up from fourth grade?

From fourth grade I've just been ascending, honestly.

What were you writing about then? What were your raps about?

I remember the words to a rap in the fifth grade. It's still one of the best raps that I've ever heard in my life. I only know this one part, but it's like, “I look good, effortlessly / Got you spazzing out, epilepsy.” The fact that I did a tri-syllabic rhyme — you couldn't tell me anything. I was a really smart kid, and I tried to do really smart rhymes to prove my smartness. Like, “Yeah, i know this word, my mom's a nurse, she told me.”

What do you write about now?

Now it's always romantic stuff, and it's not even on purpose. I'm a Libra and Libras are normally romantic but my Venus is in Virgo so I don't know how to express my love very well. I write a lot about boys and girls and just figuring out myself. My whole process has been to write from the point of view of a character.

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Wes Anderson characters are really interesting to me. The characters are always stoic. In Moonrise Kingdom the characters are so in love but you can't tell from their faces. You can tell from their actions. I relate to that — Venus in Virgo, not having the physical appearance of being enamored by anyone.

How have your parents responded to everything that's happened?

My mom is really education-based. So for the first semester of my first year at college, I was doing it for her, because I know that's what she wanted. My dad is a musician himself so he's always been super supportive. When I was really little, maybe three or four, he would take me to these reggae nightclubs and I would just [hang out] in that environment. They're all smoking weed and playing their instruments. I'm really glad that I was there for that.

You’ve just turned 18 and you work in music. A lot of nightlife places and music venues in L.A. aren’t accommodating to young people and a lot of all-ages clubs have shut down in the past few years. Is L.A. a city friendly to young artists? Where did you find music in L.A. growing up?

I was doing 21-and-over clubs when I was 17. But my very first show as Amindi K. Fro$t was in the backyard of somebody's house in Hawthorne and my dad had came. I think backyard shows have become more popular over time. The DIY subculture of Los Angeles has definitely picked up. There's a bunch of different collectives like L.A. Counterculture and the Sonny Side Club. Then there's The Smell, in Downtown L.A., which is all-ages and has every genre of music play. Every local band that has blown up has played The Smell. I got to play The Smell for the first time in June. I was on this reality show over the summer called Summer Break and they filmed me performing there.

At the end of the day, there's always going to be bars and there's always going to be clubs for adults and adult spaces because adults have more power and money. But a lot of the shows that I go to and frequent — and play at — they're run by teenagers. These teenagers go out and figure out how to get insurance for their shows and proper permits, all the while taking Algebra 2. They're on it, and I think that's really cool.

You got to DJ a DubLab show recently, open for Slow Hollows at the Roxy, and you're only 18 years old. Does it feel surreal?

Everything feels surreal. I'm in a group chat with all my best friends and every time something happens, I tell them. Because it's all stuff that we've talked about, and it happened. They just understand how much I've been manifesting over the course of my entire career — which isn't even a full-blown career because I'm a teenager.

It feels weird calling it a career when that's literally what it is. Because I don't think it's a hobby. It's what makes my money and pays my bills. Like, I'm paying bills. It's what takes caring of me right now.

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Amindi K. Fro$t is peak SoundCloud, in the best way possible