Unsung Hero of 2016: Frank Ocean's Secret Weapon

Meet Alex G.

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Frank Ocean doesn't Tweet. He doesn't Instagram. If not for his infrequently updated Tumblr, the artist would be virtually unseen online. Alex G, the relatively unknown guitarist featured in a number of tracks on Frank's hotly anticipated Blonde, by contrast, owes his burgeoning career to the internet.

The 23-year-old Philadelphia-born guitarist spent has built a small but devoted fanbase through his constantly updated Bandcamp page. He first started uploading woozy indie pop songs back in 2011 and now the page sits with over a dozen albums, EPs, and collections of loose material. That's not even to count the numerous songs archived on YouTube pages.

Photograph courtesy of Domino Records
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So how did the two connect? Alex G, short for Giannascoli, told Run For Cover Records that while on tour in England he received a simple email request from Ocean's manager for studio time.

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Watch the video for "Harvey."

Giannascoli took the offer and proceeded to answer Frank's whim whenever he beckoned for studio time. On "Self-Control" you'll hear an almost country twang from Giannascoli's guitar, and on "White Ferrari," his desolate strums accompany Ocean's passionate yells. Additionally, he aided a couple of arrangements on other Blonde tracks, and appeared on four Endless tracks (Frank's video album, released a day before Blonde).

On stage at FYF Fest 2016. Photograph courtesy of Domino Records

Plucked from obscurity, Giannascoli's contributing credit on both projects has the young artist sitting among the music industry's upper echelon including Jon Brion, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, Pharrell, and Beyoncé. Even among the A-List talent that helped create these projects, Giannascoli's warm, off-kilter guitars stand out against the projects' lush instrumentation.

The cover of Blonde.

Last year, the singer released the critically adored Beach Music on the British independent label Domino, and toured throughout 2016. The reveal of Giannascoli working with Frank Ocean appeared out of nowhere, even for his most devoted fans, as his earnest songwriting is fairly removed from Ocean's brooding R&B. Yet, Frank's exacting taste—if four years between albums didn't say anything—shows Giannascoli's bedroom demos weren't uploaded to deaf ears.

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