Do What You Feel:
Surfing and Songwriting with Donavon Frankenreiter

Words by Corinne Casella

Over ten years since his self-titled debut, surfer/musician, Donavon Frankenreiter has reached a new level of harmony and maturity with his latest release, The Heart. “All these songs are as close to me singing from the heart as I can,” says Frankenreiter of the new tunes. “It’s a complete record; the songs are intertwined. I had to call it ‘The Heart’ – that was the theme of the record.”

He’s bringing his songbook on the road this summer, with four New York dates approaching in Montauk (8/6), Amagansett (8/7), New York City (8/9), and Brooklyn (8/16). We had a chance to speak with Frankenreiter about how his family and passions fuel his music and his new direction…

Tell us a little about your creative process. Are you driven more by your own desire to hear a certain song, or do you think from the outset about how it will resonate with listeners?

DF: I always do what I hear and what I want to record. I don’t think it’s a good thing if you’re chasing down what you think people want to hear. It’s better to do what you feel.

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

DF: My biggest challenge is being away from my family. It’s the hardest thing and will be something that I will never get over. Being away sometimes for 5 weeks straight gets a little tough. But when they’re with me on the road I could keep going for ever.

Tell us a little about the inspiration for your latest album, The Heart, and what got you back into the studio after such a long hiatus.

DF: Just had enough songs to make a record so I thought it was time to go in and make it happen. A lot happened over the last 2 years that has lead to the inspiration of these songs. The loss of my dad was the biggest thing, and “California Lights” was writing about him.

How does your love of surfing connect with your love of music?

DF: They both are forever changing rides that I can’t get enough of. I am so addicted to both of them that I feel so lucky to be able to do both for a living.

What have you learned as a musician in the past ten years since your last album?

DF: That you don’t sell albums anymore. It’s all about streaming.

How does it feel to be back on tour?

DF: Feels great, I love touring. It’s amazing to have a group of songs you just love playing live!

Catch Donavon Frankenreiter on tour all summer long. See all dates here… | The Heart