Next Wave #663: Frances

Beautifully assured...

Frances is almost impossibly endearing. Onstage, the youthful singer has a quiet yet assured presence, coupled with a neat line in self-deprecating humour. On the phone to Clash, it turns out this isn't an act – she's quiet, modest but immensely likeable.

“My parents aren't actually musical but they've always been really into music, so I think they – not really intentionally – surrounded me with music since I was really young, just by playing to me all the time,” she says. “And then obviously they realised I was quite into it and enjoyed it, so they took me to little music classes, fun things and it kind of all went from there. Every break time at school I would run to the room with the grand piano!”

Songwriting seems to come naturally, though Frances couldn't quite find things to fire her muse at such a tender age. “At 13 I didn't have masses to write about – you just don't!” she laughs. “You just go through school, you have maths… there's not a lot you can really write about! But I had a friend that was getting quite badly bullied and I used to write about that a lot, which is quite sweet.”

Initially lacking somewhat in artistic confidence, Frances would write songs imagining that other people would perform them. “I'd sing on the demo and say: obviously it wouldn't be my voice! Obviously someone else would sing it. And people would say: well, why? I slowly found a way of singing that I liked and that felt right for the songs that I was writing. It happened quite naturally, I think. Finding my voice, as it were.”

Frances has certainly found her voice. A powerful performer, her two Eps to date reveal an artist blessed with innate maturity, an emotional touch which is as engrossing as it is devastating. Often deeply personal, this quietly autobiographical vein running through her work is what makes Frances so utterly endearing.

“The main thing for me is that I want people to relate to a song.,” she explains. “So lyrics are obviously very important because I want people to hear it and think: I felt that way. I've been there. And I think it's just as nice for me as it is for the listener.”

Building a body of work, Frances' quiet assurance is built around that defining personality, her ability to step away from notions of what a young artist should or shouldn't do. “I've always wanted to write songs but I was never sure if I wanted to sing them on my own or have other people sing them,” she muses at one point in our conversation.

“I think I realised that, actually, the songs I was writing meant a lot to me and that I felt like I needed to sing them, and that I had something to say, and that I wanted to share personally rather than through someone else's voice. That's kind of the conclusion I came to, I guess.”

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