Tiny Bones breaks out

Pub date December 14, 2010
WriterMarke B.

Elise-Marie Franklin, a.k.a. Tiny Bones, breezes into Four Barrel Coffee in the Mission, turning several heads in her wake, and it’s like, “Wow, dayum, star power!” (She declines a cup of slow-drip because, “I have so much natural energy, I’d probably explode.” I can see that.)

The gorgeous young singer and musician looks destined to be the first pop star graduate of San Francisco’s storied hardcore electro scene, utilizing her various talents to combine underground and mainstream elements into a bewitching and surprisingly unique style. Together with her partner in music, local fameball Topher Lafata, a.k.a. Gold Chains, she’s finally started releasing tracks on their label New California Music (www.newcaliforniamusic.com) after a long gestation period.

“We’ve been working for three years on all of this and have dozens of songs ready to go, but we wanted everything to be just right — the music, the website, the label. It’s fantastic, because now we can do things our own way.”

Tiny Bones spent her childhood in Carmel and France, training from an early age in vocal techniques and multiple instruments. But she came of punk-rock age in the famous pit of Berkeley’s 924 Gilman and, later, the electro-styley, camera-ready world of club Blow Up. Add to all that a music appreciation that runs from the Ronettes to Eazy-E (with stops at Deniece Williams and Depeche Mode), and you’ve got a powerhouse of influences.

“I love so many different kinds of music that for me it’s less about the style than the fact that something’s authentic,” she told me. “I aim for that authenticity with my own music — I put all of myself into my songs and performance, I don’t believe in holding back.”

That perfect lack of restraint comes through in her stage persona, which mixes sexiness (“Sexuality is huge in my life, and I don’t shy away from it”) and smarts (Tiny Bones is a psychology grad student at UC Berkeley). Those two sides meld to humorous-hot effect in the video for her first single, a slow-building, tropical-tinged banger called “Heat.” It starts in a boardroom, with Tiny Bones setting feminist boundaries for her marketing campaign — no bikini-clad sexploitation, no oil, no fans in the hair — and then demolishing those boundaries in a tight gold tube top, owning her hotness and slaying the fanboys.

Tiny Bones has just released her second track, “Parley,” an epic hardcore electro breakup-party ballad that expertly hits an aching sweet spot between build and release around the two-minute mark and holds you there for the rest of the six-minute track. It’s pretty breathtaking in its ballsiness, and the video is a love letter to San Francisco, with guest spots from nightlife stars HOTTUB, the Tenderlions, Monistat, Merkeley???, Richie Panic, and more.

Tiny Bones is going to soon bring that San Fran ballsiness to the world, with a tour in the works, a full album, and a lot more partying (and studying). “This has always been my dream, to be a singer and make people happy and maybe inspire someone. Now I’m ready to go for it.”