Cody Frost, Manchester England’s “Smalltown Girl”

Cody Frost, a queer woman from Northern England, was introduced to many when she appeared on ‘The Voice’ in the UK. She sang some intense numbers that were very dark and catapulted her into stardom, where now, she just does what she wants. I saw her video for “Your Secret’s Safe With Me” and I was in love. A Spunky little punk girl with her own line of “Devil” hats. She is as adorable in person as you think from watching her perform. Her EP is called “TEETH” and will be released on May 6th. 

In my mind, the best piece she ever performed was “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat, a protest song from the ’80s about being young and gay in Scotland. We have come a long way, but that song still holds a power to it, and she reminded us of that.

Photos provided by Hi Rise PR

Jeremy Hinks: Hey Cody, thank you so much for taking the time, I wanted to let you know when your publicist sent me the video, and some music, I watched it and called him up asking if you were in fact as crazy as the video makes you look. He assured me that you are.

Cody Frost: Oh, yes probably true.

JH: Well, with all of that, I am the poster child for ADHD, so learning that about you, I felt like a kindred soul.

CF: If we are talking about ADHD lemme swap my hat out… (She put on her devil’s hat)

JH: I was going to ask you about that, cause I’m bald, and I need hats all the time.

CF: Yeah it gets cold doesn’t it.

JH: YES IT DOES. So, I went through your back catalog and listened to “Your Secret’s Safe With Me”, then I watched your performance of “Smalltown Boy” and I melted. Imma have to say, to face up to doing Jimmy Somerville, I thought wow you got guts.

CF: Hey, I was so nervous doing it, but yeah it turned out nicely.

JH: IF I have anything to say about it, I want you to get huge, you are the rising star, I want Instinct’s readers to take a similar dive into this. What made you decide to do that one anyway, you got a lower voice than Jimmy does. You were just as passionate. What made you decide to do something that difficult.

CF: Before I started doing my own work, I was taking old songs and kind of making them “Newer” or “Sadder” at least. I feel like my own music is more experimental, but I feel like I owed it to the people that followed me from the beginning. I grew up listening to my parents’ music, and I was listening to it with my producer, and I thought “Yeah, this is the one I want to cover”, I like doing songs from the 80s, Not to really “Improve” on them, but they have a lot of synths, and you have a lot you can work with there, I like to slow them down and make them more intense.

JH: Well, I am a half Scottish, and I LOVE Jimmy, so, that is the piece that won me over.

CF: Thank you, a lot of the songs that I covered have a fun poppy sound but have a very dark meaning, and I like to take them back to the root of the actual lyric.

JH: So, I’ll have to rephrase the next question, but, well, you being an openly gay woman, in Manchester England in 2021-2022, is a VERY different story than Jimmy Somerville in the early 80s.

CF: Oh yeah, absolutely.

JH: And you singing the song now is saying “Why is this still a relevant song, in telling this story”.

CF: Yeah, I think a lot of people can still very much relate to it. I think I was very lucky in terms of coming out, but I think it is still very relevant for a lot of other people.

JH: Well, yeah, I’ve been to Manchester, it’s not a small town.

CF: Well, I’m actually in Burnley, it’s not Manchester central, and even here, it’s not as progressive, but certainly in my home situation, I didn’t have to “Come out” I just brought everyone home, no one cared. You do the best you can.

JH: Yeah, I have friends from all over in that area, I mean, my second fave band is New Order, so… you are fully aware of Manchester Musical Royalty.

CF: Oh, yes I do.

JH: I loved the EP, I turned it on, and was in love pretty quick. I LOVED the overlay of the vocals in “So it seems” I thought, wow, your production in this, you’re pretty young to be pumping out this quality in production. But this line “Stand out here and talk to me, pour out your self-esteem”. IT was a “No frills, or platitudes”.

CF: Well, maybe it’s my ADHD, when I talk to people, I tend to overshare, and I get frustrated when people aren’t honest with me. And something that annoys me about working in the hospitality sector is that there are so many completely nonsensical rules. So this is me with my manager saying “Just give it to me straight” I can’t be honest with this fake personality you created. It was originally going to be called “Disciplinary” he was going to discipline me, but he got a verbal warning. So I changed it. There were a few times that didn’t require him to be professional, and I wanted him to be a real human person, and listen to what I was asking. I think the song can be applied to many people, just not my personal situation.

JH: Well, it came across very deep, I can see that as an employer/employee relationship, but it also could be a relationship of just two people trying to get through problems. Next, in your song “High/Bye”, your line “I’ve been so compliant, lying to get out of this space”. So much of this is moving around, I am missing out on things. Then sitting at home, staring at your phone, but also missing half of your life.

CF: Well, in that song two things were going on, first the mundaneness of the town that I live in, and how I’m bored with what’s going on. And people get stuck here and never make it out. The other side of the story is about all my friends from high school, who went on to Uni, and I didn’t go to Uni, I mean partly cause I didn’t know that I had ADHD at the time. And all my jobs didn’t require that I go to Uni. But I felt this weird pressure that if I had failed. I got a flat and got a job, and then when I bumped into them, they say “Hey, what are you up to”, and it’s always the same with them. Then they ask if I want to come to their parties, and I’m not interested, cause I feel like I have turned into a different person, and they know about me, and I don’t understand them. The way I stopped talking to them, and I think I have just grown too much to be around those situations.

JH: I should take better care, “Call me cliché, call me a Blagg”.

CF: Yeah, “Call me a Blagg” means you’re being annoying. In this case, it was like you were being really distant. I’ve never talked about it, cause I was in a relationship when I released that song. Now I can talk about it, and it was me dealing with my own mental health issues and not talking to them about it. I was in this weird situation where I wanted to protect my ex from me being sad. It’s also an ode to me taking better care of myself, I think in the past 6 years, I am doing better than I have ever done.

JH: The lines “I am fighting my personal demons” and “These are the demons we are left to face”.

CF: That was actually a filler line and I had planned on changing it, but everyone liked it so I kept it in. Now it makes more sense to me, it’s me trying to convince myself that I am not alone. I think that song was a testament to the advice we give to our friends that we don’t take ourselves.

JH: SO, are these demons you are talking about, why you are wearing that devil hat?

CF: Well, red is my fave color, and when it’s not dyed, I need this to cover my hair.

JH: So have you been to Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris?

CF: No, I haven’t.

JH: Well, on his headstone in Paris it says “ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ”, which means “He was true unto his own demons”. That was what your song was about I thought, I have to acknowledge my demons. Being true to them, I think that one is my fave song of your lyrically.

CF: I’m glad you liked it, It’s everyone’s favorite of mine actually, owed it to them to write a ballad and a sad song, cause that is what people like about my voice. But it was one of the hardest songs to write, I always struggled to sing it live cause it was so sad. I only make it through the first verse, I mean I cried all through writing it.

JH: Maybe taking care of yourself, you shouldn’t sing it then.

CF: Yeah maybe a bit too “EMO”.

JH: Well you are a bit too young to be writing songs like that. So, your art, you are a tattoo artist?

CF: Yeah I’m a tattooist, I work in a studio doing tattoos 4 days a week and do music the other 3, it’s honestly one of the best jobs I’ve ever had in my life. I can’t complain, I just sit with one of my best friends, we watch TV, make art, and laugh. When I first started tattooing I kind of hated it, but now I’m at that point where I enjoy it, thinking “I can’t believe I get paid for this”, people let me draw on them, and they enjoy it.

JH: So, your Enter Shikari cover, is very well done I got into them with “Nothing is True” and they are always on my shuffle, and there you are doing their covers. They are over in the states a really obscure act, but your cover of theirs was outstanding.

CF: I have several Enter Shikari tattoos, their writing style is inspired by them. I do some work with their producer as well. I never want to rip them off, but their lyrics are my inspiration. I got these all tattooed, to fill in my space with the good things in my childhood.

JH: I get that, I have a Sigur Ros tattoo.

CF: I want to get one of Jeff Buckley, I got a Deftones tattoo as well.

Photos provided by Hi Rise PR

JH: Do you work with any of the LGBTQ organizations locally?

CF: I did a few shows for PRIDE, Pride in Manchester is great, but I am usually at another festival during pride weekend. I would love to go to Brighton Pride.

JH: Well, come play at our pride in Salt Lake City.

CF: Have you ever seen that movie “SLC PUNK”?

JH: Actually I know some of the people who were IN the story, the people that movie was about. They all told me a very different version of what happened.

CF: I actually have a tattoo that says “Poseur” inspired by that film.

JH: If you come to Salt Lake, I will introduce you to these people. I moved here at the tail end of that story, and that bled into my experience of Jr High and High School.

CF: I love the term “Poseur” cause it was so poignant, him, in the end, becoming a suit guy.

JH: Yeah I went to Harvard too like in that film. I was actually at Harvard when I saw that movie.

CF: Yeah, we all become the suit guy in life.

JH: SO how was it getting on your feet as a queer person and musician in your area?

CF: Well, the town I live in is so small, we tried, but no real point. So we go to Manchester, where we had the marches when we could, I like that, but we have to evolve to it.

JH: So talk about the new music releasing soon (I’ve already heard it, I LOVE MY JOB).

CF: Well, we got stuff coming a song “Chaos” a piece on an EP called “TEETH”, and a few festivals in the UK and we are getting my live setup, I am trying to get that tied down.

JH: I am so looking forward to this cause I have enjoyed the music, and I watched the video for “Secrets Safe” and I thought “OUCH” then… Oh wow, she is a contortionist, wow.

CF: Yeah that was fun, nobody has ever seen me dance so they didn’t get an idea of what I was planning when I told them about it. I put my whole heart into that, I show it to everyone I can.

JH: Well Cody, this has been a great conversation I wish you all the best, and I can’t wait to see you on the road making things happen, and I hope people love your music as much as I do.

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