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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dia Frampton Starts Over with Archis

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Dia Frampton knows she is asking a lot of her fans as she opens for Lindsey Stirling on a spring tour.

Rather than playing songs from her 2011 solo album, Red, or from the catalog of her former band, Meg & Dia, Frampton is playing her new EP front to back. The EP, released this month, is different enough from her earlier work that it will arrive under the band name Archis, not as a Dia Frampton solo album.

“I guess I’m being selfish,” Frampton said. “I’m just so excited about this new music and about this EP. I just really couldn’t figure out any songs to cut to put in old Dia songs, so we’re just doing the EP front to back. The EP really in itself is a story. So it feels strange to take out songs. It’s almost like taking chapters out. So it’s going to be 30 minutes straight of new music. I know it’s going to be a disappointment to some people, and I hope that they’ll latch onto the new music, enjoy it and have a good time.”

Archis represents a bold new start for Frampton after she had been introduced to a new group of fans in 2011 when she appeared on the debut season of the hit television show, “The Voice,” finishing second to Javier Colon.

She was signed as a solo artist by Universal Republic Records, which rushed Frampton into the studio to make an album, hoping to capitalize on her popularity on “The Voice.”

That 2011 album, Red, had all the hallmarks of an attempt by a major label to break an artist with a big hit single. Frampton was paired up with an arsenal of hit-making songwriter/producers and the album was cranked out in time to be released in December 2011, less than six months after Frampton finished her run on “The Voice.”

Looking back, Frampton sees that the urgency to get Red released did her no favors.

“It was so rushed,” Frampton said. “For the 10 songs that are on the album, there are like 15 producers, and it was just a little bit scatterbrained. I mean, it was amazing to work with all of these people. But for Meg & Dia, we worked with one producer and got in a studio and had this focus. With Red, it was like ‘Get this album out as soon as possible and work with all of these people and get a radio hit.’”

Frampton watched the album tank and her time with Universal come to an end when she was dropped by the label.

It wasn’t the first time she had experienced that sort of disappointing scenario.

In the early 2000s, she and sister, Meg, formed the group Meg & Dia, and went on to land a major label deal with Sire/Warner Bros. Records. But Here, Here and Here, the duo’s 2009 album for the label stiffed, and the group was dropped. It was during the time of struggle that followed for Meg & Dia that Dia Frampton’s manager suggested she audition for “The Voice.”

After the failure of Red and Frampton’s second major label dismissal, the singer was undaunted. She returned to writing songs, and along with her producer-friend Joseph Trapanese she pursued an organic sound for the songs that would become the self-titled Archis EP, bringing in a string section, horns and percussionists to play on various tracks. Many of the songs clock in at five minutes or more, which is a major departure from Frampton’s earlier work.

The length of the songs means the Archis material probably won’t get radio play. Frampton is fine with that, and found creating music simply for the music’s sake refreshing.

“We made Red and we were trying to get on the radio and it didn’t happen,” she said. “So why should I do that again and be unhappy? It’s kind of nice because I know this will never be on the radio.”

Dia Frampton opens for Lindsey Stirling Thursday, June 5, at the Riverside Theater. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.