NEXT UP: Frances Claire
Origin: Nashville, Tennessee
We sat with the upcoming singer/songwriter Frances Claire. We discussed her upcoming album "Call Tomorrow", which by the way is coming out tomorrow. Watch it in the video below:
All about France Claire:
To start it off, who are you? What do you do? My name is Frances Claire. I am a musician, songwriter, and artist. I have been releasing a lot of different projects under a lot of different names. Recently, I decided to release my first full actual album under my name Frances because normally I use weird random names for things that I put out because I'm making them just to make them. I'm putting out my first album under my actual name. I feel like I just like making things.
You have multiple chapters, so how did you develop your style? I'm from Nashville, Tennessee. Being from Nashville, I was always surrounded by a lot of singer/songwriters. I was a kid singing and in my fourth-grade play. In middle school, I started playing acoustic guitars, singer/songwriter style. I got a lot of my influence from summer camp because when I went we'd sing James Taylor and John Denver songs and I really loved that a lot. After that, I continued to write with just my acoustic guitar and my voice for a while. In high school, I was in the School of Rock for a little bit, and I made some buddies there. I tried to form a band with me on guitar and voice, another kid on drums, and another girl on bass. But all my songs were way too slow, sad and really uncomfortable with a band. I started playing with an electric guitar and around that time period, a lot of the music I listened to in high school was reggae. I like old rap music like Biggie and Tupac and Erykah Badu, so I started playing more soulful, rootsy, or funky songs. Those were really fun to play the band and my senior year we played out a bunch. When I went to college, I formed a band and used the same songs that I played in high school, but the band setting was overpowering, because before I had been in a band with two other people that I was really close friends with. This band formed within a week with people that I didn't really know before we were in the band and then my band members would invite people to be in the band. And it was too much so I had to quit the band and start over. I wanted to write new stuff because I've been using the same songs for two years. This past year, I spent a lot of time writing more acoustic music with my electric guitar, kind of dreamy music and I did that under a different name. I didn't really do a lot of music. This chunk of the year, I did it very casually. I was mainly focusing on art and then over Christmas break, I was on the airplane to my house, and all my music un-downloaded on Spotify so I was going through old voice memos, and I found the songs that are on the album and I didn't even realize I had been writing music. All the songs are about that journey and losing myself to find me again. I went home and I contacted a kid who had graduated from my school and moved to Nashville and opened a studio. I was like, "Are you available like next week?" Then we recorded the whole album and mixed it in two days.
I'm glad to hear that. So during this pandemic, when it comes to making music, how has it been your creative process?
I have too many hobbies. When I first got back, I have been living in a house with seven other people, which was really overwhelming for me and I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is awesome". I have all this room I have all this space. I tried to learn how to sew. I tried to learn how to embroider. I got into making friendship bracelets for a little while. I've been writing letters to people but I burned myself out because I was doing tons and tons of stuff. Now, I've gotten into making some motion animations. I will draw them out by hand and then do them on Photoshop, because, musically, I'm still in a break. When I get writer's block, I don't get frustrated. I just focus on something else. I feel like when you need to fill yourself back up, you can't keep pouring out and pouring out and pouring out. I've been in a space where I'm trying to watch movies because I don't watch TV or movies ever. I've been trying to watch more movies because I like them a lot, but I get way too invested in them. That's why I don't watch them because they become my life. I just watched the movie "Emma". And I was like, "Mom, I have to get a flip phone. I don't want to be anything. I want to live on a farm and wear fancy dresses." My mom was like, "you need to go to bed". So my struggle is that if I think about something, I really think about it. I think about it all the time so I've been working on breathing exercises, having patience, and letting go of things because I feel it's a time to process a lot of things I don't really have space to process.
Since you mentioned that you go to Berkelee, how has Berkelee affected you?
It's been a really huge change. Just moving from like Tennessee to Boston. I went to a really small religious school kindergarten through 12th grade where everyone knew everyone. We had uniforms and everyone was friends and everyone knew everything about everyone. You go to school with the same hundred kids for 15 years, you know every phase they've gone through, who their family is, what church they all go to. The schools in Nashville are pretty intertwined so most people don't really have friend groups. For the most part, it's a huge network of people so it's hard to go somewhere and not have known them for a really long time. Moving to Boston was so weird because one, there are no uniforms. The unifying thing is everyone is making music but it's been really strange for me too because I like didn't realize until I was out there how much I like knowing all these things about a person. You grow up knowing about people and having interacted with them a lot so it's weird to be thrown into a mix of people who no one really has that history with each other. The music classes aren't crazy for me. I enjoy them. I like learning about it. And the school part hasn't been crazy blowing my mind. It's really awesome because I know a lot of programming things and stuff that I didn't know how to use before. There's a program where you can write out music on a score and it'll play it and play all the instruments. The thing that's been craziest to me is the social difference from going to a place where you always have someone that you've known for years to feeling you're in a room full of people who are strangers who are trying to have that history, but it's hard to form without it. I've met people who are really amazing. In Nashville, I didn't really feel the music, and the way I dressed was a big part of my identity because everyone knows your personality. It's really different going into an area where people are making assumptions based on how you look and that's okay people do that everywhere, but that's been kind of hard for me to cope with because I've never had people make assumptions based on my hobbies. It's been a really weird change going from a place where people are wearing uniforms and it is totally based on your behavior and your actions to be in a place where it's based on things that seem kind of like surface level.
You showcase a lot of emotion, specifically vulnerability. Is that a message that you want to give to others?
I really feel when I'm being vulnerable, I am being myself. I cry at things that I think are really beautiful. I used to be in my high school chorus and my high school chorus was really good as you can imagine out of the church of christ school because they don't believe in instruments in the church so you know how to read music. They all love to sing, and the chorus was so beautiful I just start sobbing in class. If I go to a museum and something's beautiful, sometimes I just cry when I feel something really powerful. It just makes me cry. I think if that's not happening, I'm not allowing myself to actually live presently in my body. The world is full of weird intentions and people doing things for random reasons. One thing I can't judge is where anyone else is coming from. It doesn't matter whether I think someone's doing something for a shallow reason. I have a friend at school named Reggie and when she plays, it always makes me cry because she is so raw, powerful, and awesome. I can really feel when people aren't coming from one place. That's entertainment, but it's not communication. Growing up, I did acting for a little while and I had this coach and she's been my mentor since I was 14. I was always told when I was growing up to "not talk at people, but to talk with them, we can hear in your voice when you're talking at us". And that's really the goal: to interact with people in a way where they can let their guard down and really feel something and not be afraid or embarrassed. Vulnerability is being genuine and being present and being unafraid of actually interacting with someone else instead of y'all talking at each other.
Don't forget to check out Frances Claire on Instagram!
Pictures shot by Camille Townson.
Interview by Dreina Bautista.