Community//

Rising Music Star Cimo Fränkel: “Why you should make the best choices for your music, not for your bank account”

You don’t have to choose between songwriting, producing, and singing: I have been told so many times to focus on either of these things but never all at once. If someone told me the opposite, I would have been more confident in doing so way earlier. Where I am from, Amsterdam, the culture is really set […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

You don’t have to choose between songwriting, producing, and singing: I have been told so many times to focus on either of these things but never all at once. If someone told me the opposite, I would have been more confident in doing so way earlier. Where I am from, Amsterdam, the culture is really set on: “You can’t do all of the above” but if I look at the masters: Pharrell, Prince, Michael Jackson, I’d say you most certainly can if you really want to.


As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cimo Fränkel.

Cimo Fränkel is a multi-platinum songwriter, producer, and singer who has contributed to songs that have amassed close to one billion streams worldwide. Last year, Cimo released his first solo project, an EP titled “Stay the Night”, which was written, produced, and performed himself, along with visual concepts — The self-titled album features 14 tracks, and encompasses Cimo’s journey through heartbreak, loss, and happier times.

Cimo’s songwriting and production credits include the global hit “Sex,” (which gathered over 500 million streams, went Gold in the USA, double Platinum in the UK, quadruple Platinum in the Netherlands, earned 7 more Platinum awards in other countries, and won a National Buma Award). The hit was performed by Cheat Codes & Kris Kross Amsterdam. Also, in his credits are Yellow Claw’s iconic smash “Shotgun”, Hardwell & Snoop Dogg’s “How You Love Me” collaboration, OMI’s “As Long As I’m With You”, and Lucas & Steve’s airplay smash “Where Have You Gone”. He has also been featured on records with internationally acclaimed electronic artists including Armin van Buuren, Daddy’s Groove, EDX and TW3LVE, and has contributed to songs released on popular labels including Ultra Music, Spinnin Records, Armada Records, Universal Music, and more.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Iwas born and raised in Amsterdam. My mother is from Surinam and my father from the Netherlands.

My father was a musician as well and part of a Dutch funk band. I got to go to a lot of rehearsal rooms, studios, and jam sessions along with my brother. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I recognized I actually wanted to be a musician as well.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was always interested in and fascinated by music in general. I loved making mixtapes on cassette by recording my favorite records from the radio. When I was 13, my brother introduced me to a music production software called Fruity Loops (which I still use) where I started making beats. I and my friends formed a Dutch rap group early after this, but we never released anything although we wrote a lot of songs. I always knew I wanted to sing but I didn’t do that yet. I started singing later, which helped me develop my writing skills. At some point, I let singing and producing go and mainly focused on writing for a while. Now I am back to doing all of the above.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Well, one of the most important things that happened to me was working with an EDM act called Kris Kross Amsterdam. At the time they had no songs yet. They reached out to me about wanting to try to release music but didn’t know what direction yet. I would usually pass but there was something about their personality that I found interesting, so I thought I’d give it a shot. We worked on about 50 songs until we made “SEX” with Cheat Codes, which is still the most successful song I have worked on. My point is: sometimes following your instinct is better than following the numbers.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I once had a song on hold, they kept requesting changes in the song, but ended up choosing the original and asked for the separate parts. I never saved different files for each version, so I ended up having to recreate the first draft. I learned to always back up every version of every song. Even demo vocals without lyrics are sometimes important to keep.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I have been working on a lot of songs for the Asian market. K-pop, J-pop, and Chinese songs have an interesting approach where there are fewer boundaries and more boundaries at the same time. Creatively, it’s very satisfying to do.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share two reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Showing more diverse characters like, for example, black lead actors playing wealthy or successful men and women can, first of all, inspire other black people to be confident and motivated to become successful and also creates a more equal perspective in life in general to anyone watching it. (this applies to all cultures)

The world will eventually be even more diverse than what it already is, the movie and TV industry can help make that feel “normal” to people that didn’t get the message yet.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Don’t think you are the shit: When you are excited about making music and spending a lot of time on a song, you can become equally excited about the result. I used to be so precious about my work that any request for changes or comments about the song were disposable to me. I learned over the years that it’s not the worst thing to try out something somebody else suggested. Because in the end, if you don’t like it, you can change it back anyway but at least you know.

The total opposite — don’t take people’s comments for truthSometimes you have to follow your heart, even if everybody says the same thing about a specific song that needs to be changed. If you have a strong gut feeling you shouldn’t change it, don’t. Sometimes taking a risk is better if it’s your own.

You don’t have to choose between songwriting, producing, and singing: I have been told so many times to focus on either of these things but never all at once. If someone told me the opposite, I would have been more confident in doing so way earlier. Where I am from, Amsterdam, the culture is really set on: “You can’t do all of the above” but if I look at the masters: Pharrell, Prince, Michael Jackson, I’d say you most certainly can if you really want to.

Make the best choices for your music, not for your bank account: As I said earlier, making the best choices, creatively, can result in it being a good financial choice as well before you even know it. There have been times where I’d been so excited about a release from a major artist, but I wasn’t as happy about the performance of the artist as much. I just thought the song could have been better, but I chose to go for this artist because he was way bigger than anyone else interested in the song. The song didn’t do much and I also don’t really enjoy listening to that version. If the song came out with a better fitting artist and it flopped, I’d still be proud of my decision.

You will get over stage fright: I was super hesitant about becoming a performer myself because I got so scared every time I had to go on stage. I learned that even if these feelings still show up before a gig, you get more confident in knowing that it doesn’t really matter if you make some mistakes as long as the overall performance is great, that’s what people will remember.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Don’t be afraid to ask someone’s opinion if you’re stuck. And don’t feel guilty when you can’t finish a song in a day. Sometimes I don’t even have a chorus for over a year, but I know someday it’ll come to me. If I would have spent hours trying to find the solution for a specific record, I would risk a burn-out, while often, the next day with fresh ears, you can really hear what’s missing.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

“Smile.” smile to people you don’t know, smile to people you do know. Get it in your system. When you get a coffee at Starbucks, smile at the people working there. Smile at your neighbors. If everyone would do that more often, I think, collectively, good energy would come of it.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I worked at a club in Amsterdam, where a lot of people would go out. One of which was part of a Dutch pop/rap duo. I would always see him and tell him I would love to try and work with them on songs. One day he gave me that opportunity and I got to work on their two last singles before one the two brothers became an A&R for Sony. As an A&R he really helped as well because my first international success was a song, he wanted me to write for the EDM act Yellow Claw called Shotgun, which was also their first international hit. This course of events really opened doors for me as a songwriter.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My father often said, “If you don’t know how to do it, you can learn how to do it.” That quote made me practice a lot of things over and over again. From silly things like weird faces or impressions to learning how to produce or learning a language. I noticed that learning, in general, is now a good skill of mine because I got used to it.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Denzel Washington — not only is he my favorite actor, but he is also inspiring on so many levels. His way of thinking is something I really look up to and I’d love to learn from him.

How can our readers follow you online?

They can find me on all platforms:

https://www.instagram.com/cimofrankel/

https://itunes.apple.com/nl/artist/cimo-frankel/id475303456

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUmyemTXmkCJMDurR8fQL2w

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

GaudiLab / Shutterstock
Wisdom//

Bethenny Frankel, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Other Wildly Successful CEOs on the Questions They Ask Themselves to Ensure They Stay Happy

by Steve Costello
Community//

Rising Star Cassidy Robinson: “Why I’d like to start a movement that encourages children and high schoolers to pursue a career in the arts”

by Ming S. Zhao
Community//

Rising Music Star Ashley Puckett: “Why it is so critical that we end veteran homelessness”

by Ben Ari

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.