In the spotlight – Alex Francis

In the spotlight – Alex Francis

Singer/songwriterAlex Francis was raised in the sleepy Hertfordshire town of Hitchin (UK), but moved to Brighton to realise his musical dreams in a more creative and exciting environment. He is currently based in London.

Alex first introduced himself in 2017 when he was invited to be the guest vocalist on Melanie C’s single ‘Hold On’. Since then Alex has toured with the likes of Alanis Morrisette, Stereophonics and Sting.

In this interview Alex shares why he chose to release ‘If I Can’t Have You’ as his first new single in two years and what’s up next.

Did you grow up in a musical household and was music a big part of your childhood?

“Massively yes. My parents weren’t musicians, but huge music lovers which meant that there was always something playing in the house! I think that is a powerful influence on a life in music before you even pick up an instrument.”

What music did you listen to when growing up?

“It was a real mix. Everything from Diana Ross to Springsteen. My parents tastes were very eclectic, they liked classical and pop. So there was a way to appreciate a broad range of styles as we got to know music more.”

In terms of overall composition, what is your favourite song and why?

“It’s hard to choose just one, but something that comes to mind is ‘Everyday People’ by Sly & The Family Stone. The song vamps on an E chord all the way through, but goes many places dynamically in order to stay interesting. The vocal parts are so varied and they take you on a wild journey from verse to chorus. It’s a really clever thing to be able to use just one chord in songwriting.”

When did your interest in songwriting begin?

“Probably around the time that my brother and I started to want to learn instruments. Once we knew our way around a few covers we suddenly had a bit of an understand of “what goes where” in terms of a lot of popular songwriting, so we started to risk it.”

What kind or whose style do you feel you resemble the most?

“I take from a lot of soul music, but also from quite organic “songwriter” driven music. Within those genres, Stephen Stills comes to mind, maybe 70s Marvin Gaye.”

Do you write your songs from personal experiences or from sources outside of yourself?

“I always try to write from a personal perspective whether it is something I have experienced first hand or something that I have seen a friend go through. I like the idea that I can frame something relatable and “real” in my songwriting.”

Are you always looking for inspiration for songs, or do you have to be in a specific time or place for that to happen?

“I think I always have a “radar” on in terms of being suddenly inspired by something, but I definitely find that when I’m inside the studio space and the time is dedicated to the search for creating a cool composition, that I’m able to really focus in on achieving that.”

What key ingredients does a song need in order to sound authentic?

“I think a great vocal delivery, some clear distinction in each section and ideally a really endearing narrative should see you on your way!”

Do you have a particular way you write songs?

“Often I will start with a progression of chords that feels emotive and exciting for me, and then probably a long conversation about a narrative if I am collaborating!”

What are you hoping to achieve each time you sit down to write a song?

“Something honest, exciting and moving.”

‘If I Can’t Have You’ is your first release in two years. Why did it take so long to come up with new material?

“We were busy! My co writers and I wrote upwards of 10 songs before and during the pandemic here in the UK. We didn’t start working up productions for these new songs until the beginning of this year, so we quite naturally found our way to June to get the first one out.”

Why did you choose this particular song to release first?

“I wanted to return with something up, something that felt like a bit of an “emergence” from the limitations of living in the pandemic, which is also part of what inspired the lyric in the song.”

You toured alongside the likes of the Stereophonics, James Bay, Sting and Alanis Morissette. Is there a moment from your career that you’re most proud of?

“I’m equally proud of all of my live experience so far. I’ve been lucky to play some amazing places and stage alongside some legends. I’m especially proud of connecting with people in countries where I still don’t know if I’m going to be able to tour. There’s a really great feeling in reaching people further than your comfort zone as an artist, and especially when they’ve got something to say about the music you are creating. It’s really affirming.”

How did the collaboration with Melanie C (Spice Girls) come about?

“We had a mutual friend in Germany in the beginning and also a friend’s wedding in Sweden! It was also a super cool moment to meet Melanie early on and sing over the track we ended up working together on. There was a spark that day that I won’t forget.”

“It’s crazy how degrees of separation can start things going. It’s powerful stuff especially in the music industry!”

What artists do you like listening to in your spare time?

“All sorts, when I’m not listening to classics like the Stones, I’m always trying to check in on what’s great and new. I’m really enjoying Joy Oladukan and the new Paolo Nutini record at the moment.”

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2022?

“Releasing more new music and getting back on the road! Loads of exciting announcements to come.”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

“I’m digging ‘Nothing New Under The Sun’ by Robi Mitch. I’m getting a Barrett era Pink Floyd meets The Byrds kind of feel from it. It has a lovely laid back, groovy feel to it. Love the falsetto at the back of the choruses.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“I’m gonna shout out my man Gui Rezende here who’s this year started releasing his own music. We are great friends and Gui has performed with me on tour for years. He’s a super talented writer and his music deserves new ears so I’m going to nominate his latest one, ‘Life After You’. It’s beautiful.”

Alex’s social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify.

(Photos by Max Patnell @maxpatnellshoots)