Francesca Louise wipes our tears away and tells us to keep our chin up on her debut EP ‘Melancholic Antidote’.
Citing her influences as Billie Marten and Lucy Rose, Francesca takes the age-old musical pairing of voice and piano, and puts it into fifth gear with her candid folk songs that peel back our emotional defences, and act as a juicer for our vulnerabilities.
Picking up an array of radio plays and live sessions with the likes of BBC Introducing, and completing a spree of festival performances earlier this year, Francesca Louise is becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Sit back, put your feet up, and let your worries wash away as you read our interview with this very special guest.
So, the first EP. Was it a daunting experience putting it together?
"The funny thing is that I didn’t realise that I was putting an EP together as first. I was just writing songs as and when they came to me. A collection of those songs made up the catalogue of tunes on ‘Melancholic Antidote’."
I mean, releasing singles is one thing, but having a collection of tracks that complement one another and create a coherent journey is something else entirely. How did you first approach things?
"I just live my life and write about it. It is the most natural way to write coherently. There is no planning in the writing process, just life really."
You are really serving up your life on a plate here. Were there any lyrics that almost didn’t make the cut because you felt too vulnerable?
"To be honest, there are so many ways of expressing yourself through words, so it is only natural that there were some lyrics that didn’t make the cut. I write as part of a healing process for myself, but I also write in the hope that I can help heal others. If I write too vaguely then it gets a lot harder for people to understand what the song is about and how to feel."
There are certain elements here were you act as almost a mother guiding us through the struggles of modern life. Was this the intention?
"This wasn’t the intention at all. I just wanted to be able to give to the listener. I do have somewhat of a maternal instinct so maybe that has come out in my writing!"
But equally, there are moments where you seem to be the one asking for guidance.
"Oh, definitely. I’m reaching out for a way to move forward, or a way to cope with a certain moment in my life. I’m looking for answers in my lyrics really. They don’t always come when I first write the song. Sometimes they come when I’m performing the songs months later!"
With the current global situation having a massive impact on almost everyone’s mental health, the EP’s arrival is a blessing. Did you re-write any of the lyrics to be more suited to the current situation?
"Funny enough, I didn’t re-write anything. To be honest, I never have gone back and re-written a song. It loses its magic and its organic feel if you re-write it. This is something I feel extremely strong about."
Did you experiment with anything new on the EP?
"‘Ride the Waters’ was most likely my biggest experiment. I have always written in a mellow tone, with soft sustaining sounds and a tempo to suit your Sunday side. But with this song, I was asked by my Dad to try something a little more upbeat (he is into his four-to-the-floor stuff). And so was born the second single of the whole campaign!"
Does the fact that the EP is about your whole life make it more nerve wracking in terms of what people might think?
"Not at all. Don’t get me wrong, releasing this EP was nerve wrecking for all of the right reasons! But this is one of the reasons I am a songwriter. I want to share myself with others. I write for myself first and foremost, until it becomes something that I feel I can share with my listeners. There is a sense of freedom in standing on stage and performing to an audience or having someone buy your music and take it home to reveal a little about myself in the comfort of their own home."
As a creative and a musician, how important is it to wear your heart on your sleeve?
"It makes you, you. It’s part of your identity. It’s part of your uniqueness in your music. Without honesty and purity, we are just figures of our own ego and a world full of egos is not the world I want to live in! Give yourself a little more to others - they will give themselves to you in return."
One of the most noteworthy things on the EP is the beautiful pairing of your voice with the delicate piano playing. Why do you think this age-old pairing works so well?
"They sit so well together that it feels a very natural concept. The piano is a real ‘coming together’ instrument. Everyone stands around the piano at Christmas time to sing and play Christmas carols, your mother plays happy birthday and the whole family sing along. Piano and voice together were always a comforting concept and it still is today.
But artists have made it their statement set-up over the years: Carole King, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis (the list goes on). It has been something that our grandparents have grown up with and their grandparents before them. I don’t think it will ever lose its magic."
And was this style of music a prominent part of your childhood?
"Massively. My mother is a piano player, so I spent numerous moments in my childhood sat at the piano with my mum as she played classics from Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’ and Eva Cassidy’s ‘Songbird’. So much so I followed suit playing and singing the classics of an array of players from Joni Mitchell to Kelly Clarkson!"
What direction are you heading in for the next release? Or is it too soon to tell?
"I want to strip back as much as I can, and make sure I don’t hide behind any words, production styles or any artistic choices for that matter. I want to continue to be 100% myself both on and off stage. With honesty we can make art that really matters so I will continue to work towards that motto."
Listen to Melancholic Antidote HERE
INTERVIEW BY ALISTER ROSS