Frenchy and the Punk 2023 EPK
Band members: 2
Samantha Stephenson (Frenchy) - vocals, percussion, drums
Born in France/Sings in both French and English
Scott Helland (the Punk) - acoustic/electric guitar, looping, backing vocals, drums
New Paltz, New York
Post-Punk, Alternative Cabaret
Some shows (space/time allowing) drumming instrumentals - 2-person Taiko meets Blue Man Group style drumming live video example at Asylum Festival UK: https://youtu.be/X2BVIzXMkPA)
Danceable, witchy, atmospheric
2005 (averaging 100 shows per year. Touring in U.S & Europe)
Music Festivals, Art and Culture Events, Clubs, Cafes.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Edinburgh, Scotland), DragonCon (Atlanta, GA), FaerieWorlds (Oregon/Maryland), Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA), Waterfire (Providence, RI), Flynn Center (Burlington, VT), FaerieCon (Baltimore MD), Asylum Steampunk Festival (Lincoln UK), O+ Festival (Kingston, NY), Steel Stacks (Bethlehem, PA), Grog Shop (Cleveland, OH), Webster Hall (NYC), Taste of France (NYC), Nambucca (London, UK), Wild Wild West Steampunk Festival (Tuscon, AZ), 3 Wishes Faerie Festival (UK), SteamTour (Paris France), Watch City Steampunk (MA), The Darby (NYC), Can Can Club (Seattle, OR), Once Ballroom (Boston, MA)
Some of the bands with whom they have shared the stage/Opened for:
Thomas Dolby, Toyah Wilcox, Rasputina, The Cruxshadows, Albannach, Aurelio Voltaire, Gandalf Murphy and the Slombovian Circus of Dreams, Qntal (Germany), Faun (Germany), Brian Viglione (of Dresden Dolls), The Dolmen (UK), Dinosaur Jr, Abney Park, Steam Powered Giraffe, Delhi 2 Dublin
frenchyandthepunk 'at' gmail 'dot' com (or) contact 'at' frenchyandthepunk 'dot' com
"Top 25 List of Dynamic Duos - Frenchy and the Punk (#13 )
Yahoo Music Blog
"It is easy to see where some of Frenchy and the Punk’s influences lie – somewhere in a swirl of gothic and post-punk pioneers of the early eighties and perhaps Siouxsie and the Banshees in particular. There are also the echoes of one of my favorite bands hanging over the music, Concrete Blonde; the same shamanic sound, the same blend of the sultry and the sensational, of rock moves and voodoo grooves." The Bigtakeover Magazine
"Making music that can easily be described as bombastic, Frenchy and the Punk find a happy medium between the sonic atmosphere and thoughtful melancholy of post-punk music and the unmistakable drama of cabaret." Amplify Music Magazine
"...when you listen to Frenchy and the Punk, it’s like seeing the timelines of neo-folk, prog-rock, new wave and post-punk in one take. They are an amazing band who alternate effortlessly between the genres and sub-genres of alternative rock, creating a lasting impression. They are also a band whose interludes, witchy-wails, and plucky strums, create a palette of seasonal shifts, dreamy escapades and wistful insights..." Come in and Play, Single of the Month - The Manc Review UK
"...percolates with stripped-down DIY energy, tribal rhythms, and earthy drama...a melding of ancient archetypes with scrappy street-level attitude makes [it] a lively must-have for punks, hippies, and everyone inbetween" Robert Burke Warren - Chronogram Arts and Culture Magazine
"An extremely unorthodox duo, this French-born singer and punk rock guitarist perform more of a carnival than a concert"
Musikfest 2014 (largest free-to-the-public festival in the U.S.)
Temple of Sleep
If The World Doesn’t End First
Lanky Bell Bottoms
Dark times make for dark songs. And Zen Ghost, the seventh album by New York folk/postpunk/cabaret duo Frenchy and the Punk — singer, percussionist, and lyricist Samantha Stephenson and guitarist and composer Scott Helland — written and recorded during the pandemic-induced downtime of 2020-2021, finds the already shadowy sound of the hard-touring twosome taking an even darker turn. An inward spin, into the pair’s previously unexplored personal planes and interpretations of the insanity of our increasingly tumultuous age. But despite its more pronounced moodiness, Zen Ghost, like the rest of the band’s oeuvre, offers plenty of opportunities to dance in the darkness.
“The dark element’s always been there in what we do,” says Stephenson. “But [when making the album] we were just being ourselves and reacting to what was happening, so that side just came out more. It was natural for us to fall into a darker groove.”
Swathed in swirling, Siouxsie-ish Gothicism, the apocalyptic “If the World Doesn’t End First,” is one of the haunting Zen Ghost’s many instant hits. “It’s essentially a love song wrapped in a nihilistic view of the world,” Stephenson explains. “When everything feels like its unraveling, a different perspective can emerge which can help dissolve fears and bring courage to say or do what has always been in one’s heart.” Another memorable memento is “Mon Souvenir,” an unapologetically new wave-y nugget propelled by Helland’s chugging acoustic chords. With its refrain of “If I can feel / I can heal,” the song, says Stephenson, reflects the album’s central theme: “The idea of transcending those ‘mind phantoms,’ the experiences from the past that linger within all of us.” Digging deeper into the set, the misty, murky psychedelia of “Come in and Play” chronicles, according to the singer, the act of “going within. Being in touch with more esoteric realms.”
“There’s definitely more space in the songs on this album; more atmospheric, midtempo stuff [than on the group’s previous releases],” says Helland, whose effects-enhanced, electrified instrument conjures entire worlds.
Conjuring their own world is what the defiantly independent duo has done for nearly 20 years. Born in France and raised in England and America, Stephenson’s early study of piano and dance ignited her eventual rejection of corporate conformity and fueled her quest to lead a truly autonomous life through art and music. A son of jazz-loving teachers, Helland grew up in Western Massachusetts, where he was a vital player on the region’s famously fertile early hardcore punk scene as the cofounder and bassist of Deep Wound (which also included future Dinosaur Jr. founders J Mascis and Lou Barlow) and Outpatients.
“Had Scott not gone into the burgeoning speed metal scene, he would likely have been J’s choice for the bass player of Dinosaur Jr!,” says Lou Barlow. “Witnessing the passion and ingenuity he brings to Frenchy and the Punk, I still see the same fierceness he had when we were kids. He and Samantha are as DIY as it gets, and they live a life full of music and art the way that many musicians and artists only dream of.”
The dream began when the two met in 1998 in New York City, where Helland had recently started playing solo after a tenure with thrash metal outfit School of Violence. The couple’s musical collaboration started in 2005 when Stephenson, who’d never performed with a band before, spontaneously jumped on stage to accompany the guitarist during a favorite song. The artistic union was immediate, powerful, and undeniable. The two took to the road with fevered zeal, turning heads with their striking Edward Gorey-esque aesthetic and steadily building phalanxes of fervent fans on the mystical-folk/steampunk festival, coffeehouse, convention, and club circuits with their boisterous, revival-like live shows.
Tapped as one of the Top 25 Duos in the US by Yahoo! Music, the freewheeling pair has released a raft of recordings that includes the acclaimed albums Happy Madness (2010), Hey Hey Cabaret (2012), Elephant Uproar (2013), Cartwheels (2014), Bonjour Batfrog (2014), and Hooray Beret (2019). And now, via the enchanting Zen Ghost, Frenchy and the Punk are casting their spell on the wider indie-folk world.
“We are so grateful to have the communities in which we play,” Helland says. “They are the reason we can do what we do, and they are very creative communities.” Stephenson adds, “There is an earthiness there that we really connect and relate to. I think when we get that connection from people who are not necessarily part of those communities, it’s because they get what we do on a visceral level; we are digging into people’s psyches and unearthing their connection to their own spirit.”
Supported by their expanding family of generous fans through a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, Zen Ghost is the duo’s greatest album yet, and its makers’ dedicated drive and intensely independent work ethic are passionately palpable throughout its 10 stellar tracks.
“When a person is so imbued with the drive to play music and be creative, nothing else makes sense,” says Stephenson. “Without it, they cease to exist. It is their raison d’être to their very core because it’s always about the music and art. Period.”
Hello darkness, your old friend. Sincerity shines eternal. And with Zen Ghost Frenchy and the Punk are lighting the way into inspiring new places.
Frenchy and the Punk's Music is featured on:
"Top 25 Duos in the US" by Yahoo Music Blog.
Frenchy and the Punk Releases:
Zen Ghost Album (Oct 2022)
Hooray Beret Album (2019)
Batfrog Tracks: Lyric and Photo Scrap Book (2016)
Feast Art Book (2015)
Bonjour Batfrog Album (2014)
Cartwheels EP (2014)
Elephant Uproar Album (2013)
Hey Hey Cabaret Album (2012)
Live at Bube's Brewery DVD (2011)
Happy Madness Album (2010)
Eternal Summer EP (2007)
"Stephenson...the woman with staggering charisma, whose healing energies can be felt pouring off the stage" (Yahoo Music's 25 Women to Watch) Rob O'Connor - Yahoo Music!
"an energetic hybrid of European Folk roots, Punk attitude, World Beat eclecticism and traveling player theatricality." Phil Brucato - BBI Media (Sage Woman)
"A Little Punk, A Lot of Spunk... [Frenchy and the Punk] are creating their own niche in the music world with a sound that seduces audiences like a sultry cabaret show" Eugene Oregon Weekly
"I was so shocked by Frenchy and the Punk, they were stunning performers and to top it off the music was brilliant as well" Live Music Weekly, UK
"They raucously layer colorful imagery and subtle innuendo over blaring guitar plucking and tribal drumming to effectively create an alternative, Francophilic work of run away circuses, midnight cabarets and fairy tribal dances." (Joseph Vourteque, Steampunk Chronicle)
"it's like falling through a cloud of opium and landing in a vaudeville show..." Missoula Montana Independent
"this album (Happy Madness) has beer and absinthe splashed all over the place." Buzzine.com
"It's like the secret history of fairy tales as told in your favorite corner bar at a surreal after hours party" Jordan Block - SepiaChord.com
"...toe tapping blend of bohemian punk folk tinged with cabaret, tribal beats and good old-fashioned storytelling..." Faenation
"It's like a Steampunk fairy tale with a serious case of wanderlust." Jenn O'Donnell - Adequacy.net