In Conversation With Frances

Straight off the back of a stellar Blissfield’s afternoon slot (and not to mention of packed-out Glastonbury slot the week before), the sweetest lady in pop sits down with us for a brief Q&A on working with Disclosure, Worthy Farm and (lack of) festival-ing.

How was Glasto for you then? You had a surprise BBC Introducing slot, right?

Yes! We only got told we were doing it a week or two before, so I’m thinking, “This is great but is anyone actually going to turn up?!” All you have is your name on a chalkboard outside the stage ten minutes before you’re on but the tent was completely full right up to the back which was amazing!

You’ve mentioned before that nerves stopped you from adding any of the acapella elements to your live sets, how do you deal with nerves now you’ve got a ton of shows behind you?

I love it now, it’s really freeing to not play the piano and just sing since I’m always, always playing. Once I’d done it five or six times, I felt more up for it.

You toured with James Bay in the States a while back, do you find there is a difference in audience between the UK and the US?

I did, yes. I’d never been to America before I did that tour so the whole thing was just blowing my mind. I did find that the American audiences are a lot more vocal, almost as much as a Scottish audience. They’re just really loud, I call it positive heckling. Proper ‘YEEEAH YOU’RE AMAZING!’ style in the middle of the songs. Really fun and so cool.

Borrowed Time was infamously written with one half of Disclosure, how did that collab come about?

We actually share the same management so my manager and their manager joined forces so it took a while. I was totally all ‘Oh-mah-gad it’s Disclosure’ at the start. I’ve wanted to write with them for forever as I thought it’d just be the coolest thing in the world. It just took a while as they’re obviously so, so busy. They’re flying around the world and I’m just sat there waiting for them to get back. [laughs] But we did manage to find a couple of days last summer, so great.

There’s such a buzz of indie music coming out of Berkshire at the moment, especially the Reading area. Anything we should know about from Newbury…?

[Cackles] NO! Well, not that I’m aware of anyway… [Continues laughing] Unless you count the old Pub rockers. Newbury is great but I didn’t feel much of a vibe to be honest. [Laughs more…] Oh, but there was a little bar I used to go to and play a couple of classical songs. I started gigging properly when I went to uni in Liverpool and the music scene there is huge. So uni is where I really found my feet.

If you could curate your own dream festival line-up, who’d play?

Ooh! Carole King would have to headline one night. Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Adele, Sam Smith, Kendrick, Michael Jackson, Prince, Bjork… I’d like to cater to everyone’s tastes for my festival. It’d be the best festival ever, really. I’d have to have a few million for this to work though.

Festival survival tips?

Well… I’m a rubbish camper. A good pair of wellies. Ooh, actually I’d like someone to invent a pair of wellies with a good trainer base. They get really uncomfortable so they should invent a pair of wellies that you could just wear all day, like a trainer. Obviously some kind of rain coat is needed. I think you just have to let go at festivals, don’t you? Just admit that you’re going to look a bit rough.

New single Say It Again… can you pitch it to us?

Yey! It’s more up-tempo than my usual stuff, probably as pop-y and up-tempo as you’ll see me go. Everything I’ve put out so far has been pretty ballad-y so this is a cool one to put out there. I wrote it with a guy called Greg Kurstin who wrote Hello with Adele. It’s a pretty big deal and I don’t know how I ended up with him [laughs] but we were in his studio in LA and I wrote the chorus in the shower on the morning of the session. I didn’t want to turn up to the session chorus-less.

Does song writing comes as easily like that with all your own tracks or is it usually a more concise process?

It’s easy when things like that happen but it doesn’t happen all the time. I can sit down like, “I’m going to write a song.” I just find that those songs aren’t as great as the ones that come to you as spur of the moment ideas.

Finally, since we’re at a festival and are lovers of those “if you were a cocktail” questions… If you were a festival pint, what would you be and why?

Oh! I’d be a mixed berry Rekorderlig cos they’re fruity and great, like me. [laughs] Delish.

Say It Again out now.

Words by Bill Baker and Shannon Cotton