Songwriting and production team, The Frontrunnaz, is a dynamic duo. Chris and Dria Thornton are a powerhouse married couple and business partners who strive to create and compose music that's worthwhile and meaningful.
Chris and Dria formed The Frontrunnaz in 2008 after understanding the importance of taking charge of your own destiny. After a few setbacks in the music industry, the duo was ready to introduce their production talents to the world. Seven years later, The Frontrunnaz has produced R&B, hip-hop, and pop songs for artists like Mobb Deep, Ray J, Brian Alexander Morgan, Streetrunner, S1 (Symbolyc One), Shamoney XL, and Def Jam recording artist, Logic. They are also signed to Livio Harris' international music publishing company, Notting Hill Publishing.
Chris and Dria are just getting started as songwriters and producers, but in the meantime, they are thankful that they can share their God-given talent, but remain humble at the same time.
Singersoom spoke with the prudent team about their musical journey, the origins of songwriting and producing, and more. Check out our interview with The Frontrunnaz.
Musical Roots & Influences:
Dria: I was about five years old at the time, singing in talent shows in front of people. Music just influenced me a lot when I was growing up. I also studied jazz and musical theater which expanded my musical sound. I just have love for all different kinds of music. I mean, I was born in Texas, raised in California and grew up listening to E-40, Too Short, Dre, Snoop, Tupac, DJ Quick. It was just a mixture of everything, but it all started from there.
Chris: I grew up listening to old school R&B, like Earth, Wind & Fire; all of the music from the late 70's. Then the evolution of hip-hop and everything in music just pushed me to say I have to pursue music. I had that frame of mind at an early age. I am also a fan of music from the East Coast: Wu-Tang, Biggie, DJ Premiere, and Mobb Deep. Music is just alternative to me because music is produced and arranged in many ways, which is why I love it so much.
Joining R&B Groups Before Frontrunnaz:
Dria: I was in a group called D'Adale when I was 18 years old. I was living in Houston at the time, and I thought we were going to be the next Destiny's Child. Destiny's Child are from Houston, so they were a big motivation for us. Unfortunately, it didn't work out, and we didn't receive much success. I just didn't like everything about the business or what comes along with being in a group. And after that, I was on my own and went solo and moved back to California.
Chris: I was in an R&B group when I was about 20 or 21. I had my first record deal with Capitol Records, and I was excited. I was just happy to be in the studio at the time, not really concerned about the music management or the actual business side of it. But, after realizing the ins and outs of the business, bad management, being in a group didn't work out. I felt like the production side of music would be a better fit but those few careers helped me understand what really goes on in the business.
Forming the Songwriting and Production Team, Frontrunnaz:
Chris: I was looking for a production partner and an artist that I can work with so, I started out looking on social media sites like Myspace and Dria was one of them. Dria was living in Houston at the time, and we just started talking after I reached out to her. We were making music on a long distance basis, and I started recognizing her potential as an artist and songwriter. Then once we decided we were going to work together, I moved to Dallas and Dria moved from Houston to Dallas to form the production team. It needed to be done because we have great chemistry, and we are the driving factor for each other.
Dria: We push each other and make great music. We want to make music to the highest level and be credited as great songwriters. Chris' area is in production, hooks, melodies, and rhythms. I'm more on the lyrical side because I look to tell a story by compacting words and making it into a song.
Favorite Artists to Work With:
Dria: I would have to say Logic. We started working with him a year ago, and the writing session with him was great. He is an artist that we respect because he lets Chris and I be us. And because of that, we produced such great work. Logic just kept coming back to us whether it was writing, background vocals or producing.
Chris: S1 (Symbolyc One) and Torsha Lynn. We met her, and the energy was great. We cut about 30 records with her so you should expect a lot of great things from her soon. She's dope!
Artists Wish List:
Dria: Rihanna and Beyonce
Chris: Outkast is a personal favorite of mine. I would love to work with Smashing Hearts because they have an incredible vision. They really show why R&B is at its' best and they would shut the world down.
Chris: I would say it's incredibly powerful because of the way the music touches people. The records will make you laugh, cry, dance, or be happy because it has many emotions. The records are just emotional. One record we did with Logic, "Silver Spoon," is a record that will truly bless people because he talks about important subjects. He talks about the stuff that you wouldn't expect, but this is why he is a great artist. He makes you think about the relationships you have with your mother or father. Logic will make the world think a little bit with his words because he is so real and honest.
Lessons and Expanding as a Duo:
Dria: We didn't go to school for music, so it was important for us to understand the business along the way. You have to be comfortable and open to change in order to progress. I would also say, take risks and apply your everyday teachings of the world to music. You have to know how to talk to artists, like what to say, what shouldn't you say, choose your words carefully; basically the dos and don'ts of the business. You can tell within your first meeting with the artist if it's going to work based on chemistry. You have to realize that you're not going to have great chemistry with every producer because your creative flows are going to be different. It's just all about energy, so you have to collaborate with artists who are going to vibe and work with you.
Chris: I would say work with great people, like S1, a musical genius. He is a rapper, producer, and musician from Texas. Another artist who we are working with is Torsha Lynn, who is also a great talent. I would like to work with people that have that lineage for music. You need to know how to deal with an artist because when you work with an artist in the studio, you have to look at it from a psychological point of view. That is how you learn how to surround yourself with people and artists that will help you make incredible music. Otherwise, it starts to affect your work musically because you're not connecting with musicians, singers, or composers.