In the spotlight – Jack Francis

In the spotlight – Jack Francis

Jack Francis is a Southampton (UK) based Americana/folk singer-songwriter.

“I grew up in Southampton, which is on the South coast of the UK. I’ve always enjoyed the local music scene here – there were lots of venues when I was growing up and there still are a few good ones. I’ve met many close friends on the circuit and still live here now, it’s home. It’s also 90 minutes from Brighton, Bristol and London which makes the location pretty good for a musician!”

In little over a year, Jack has gone from playing small local gigs in his hometown of Southampton to appearing at major UK festivals such as the Isle Of Wight, Victorious and Stone Free Festival at the O2 Arena in London.

“Hauntingly wonderful acoustic tunes tinged in old school Americana.”

Southampton Music Magazine

Jack caught my attention with his magnificent single ‘A Little Love’ which was recorded with Archie Sylvester (from folk and blues duo Ferris & Sylvester). His follow up ‘Silver Lining’ – currently in our chart – was also recorded with Archie Sylvester. But what else is there to learn about Jack Francis? So I had a little chat with him.

Polaroid from the recording sessions with Ferris & Sylvester

Have you always been interested in music? When did you start singing / playing guitar?

“I’ve always loved music but I was a bit of a late bloomer compared to some other musicians. I think I picked up the guitar around 13 and started writing a year or two after that. Hideous material, as you can imagine!”

What are your fondest musical memories?

“I toured Ireland in 2018 which was probably the best time I’ve ever had playing music. I have roots there and still have family there so it was really special. The people are phenomenal and their love and appreciation for music is hard to match.”

Who are your biggest musical influences? Have your musical tastes changed over the years?

“As a songwriter I would say the likes of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Carole King, The Beatles and too many others to bore you with! In terms of newer music I’m enjoying Julia Jacklin, Michael Kiwanuka and Hiss Golden Messenger amongst others. I don’t think my taste has changed but I think it’s adapted and grown over time. There are bands I didn’t like as a 15 year old who I love now. Some music you just have to grow into!”

When creating music, what is your personal purpose or goal?

“I think for me it’s just about connecting with people. If you write a song that can help someone through a hard time, or help them enjoy a good time, then that’s what truly speaks to them. I think most songwriters and musicians get into it because they want to make others feel the way that music has made them feel. Some are just in it for the money of course!”

What can tell me about your song ‘Silver Lining’? The video to Silver Lining shows a fish version of you exploring the ocean. Who came up with the idea for the video?

“The song itself is a light-hearted rant about trying to get by as a musician and a person in today’s world. The video was actually the plan-B! We had a big idea for a live action music video and had started putting it together when the UK went into lockdown at the end of last year. Our director, George Taylor, came up with this concept as an alternative and animated it himself. The song is quite tongue-in-cheek and the video captures that perfectly.”

‘Silver Lining’ is a song that sticks around in your head. What’s a song you have stuck in your head these days?

“I’ve been loving the album ‘St. Cloud‘ by Waxahatchee which came out last year. Her song ‘Fire‘ is in my head all the time! Please make it leave!”

How important are lyrics to you?

“I think they are very important! You have to be saying SOMETHING otherwise why do it? Whether it says ‘I love you’, ‘I hate you’, ‘who am I?’ or whatever – It should have a point, in my opinion.”

To what extent do you draw influence for lyrics from areas outside music such as politics and so on?

“I think most songwriters tend to naturally draw from the things that are happening around you, as well as your own experiences. Obviously being from the UK it would be hard not to be influenced by our steady decline over the last number of years. Our issues with social division, racial discrimination and political incompetence don’t exactly leave us short of material. “

Last week it was announced that you’ll be joining Ferris & Sylvester on their UK tour in October. If you could open a show for any artist who would it be?

“Wait… alive or dead? Now, or at their peak? So many variables for the common music nerd! Right now, in the UK? The Staves.”

What are your plans for 2021?

“I’m releasing my debut album! It’ll be out later this year, in the Autumn. As previously mentioned I’m also going on tour around the UK in October with the wonderful Ferris & Sylvester. To be honest I’m hoping to do as many shows as possible in the later part of this year!”

What are your ambitions as a songwriter and musician from here?

“I just want to be able to write, record and perform as much as I can. I’d like to do this for as long as possible! If it can pay the rent then even better, but if it doesn’t then I’ll probably do it anyway, as the streaming services have figured out.”

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

“There is some great stuff in there! I really enjoyed ‘Dream of You‘ by Harry Pane and Maia Frankowski. It’s a beautiful string arrangement and really haunting song.”

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

“I’d love to pick ‘Maybe She’s Bored With It‘ by Martha St. Arthur. It’s a fantastic song – I’ve known Martha for a few years and she’s an excellent songwriter and lyricist!”

Follow Jack Francis on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.