2016 was a breakout year for critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter Frances in her native England. Following the success of her 2015 single “Grow,” Frances was nominated for both the BBC Sound Of 2016 and the BRITs Critic Choice Awards. She also performed at major music festivals and her music was streamed over 100 million times.
2017 is shaping up to be Frances’ United States breakthrough as last month brought the release of her contribution to the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack, “What Is Love?” Mar. 17 is the release date for Frances’ debut full-length, Things I’ve Never Said, as featuring collaborations with Greg Kurstin, Jimmy Napes and Howard Lawrence. In support of Things I’ve Never Said, Frances returns to New York for a Mar. 27 performance downtown at Joe’s Pub.
Will this Joe’s Pub performance be your first ever gig in New York?
Frances: I’ve played a couple of shows there before. At Rockwood [Music Hall] and the Mercury Lounge. They’ve made me so excited to come back and play again because I find New York such an inspiring city!
Have you ever traveled to New York for pleasure?
Frances: Sadly, no. But it is a serious plan! I absolutely love it. I could definitely live there!
Is there a New York destination you hope to visit on this trip? Any favorite restaurants here?
At what point in your career did you become just “Frances?”
Frances: At the very beginning, I think. My full name is Sophie Frances Cooke. But I really wanted a one-word artist name, and I felt “Sophie” looked a bit young on paper — lots of curly letters! Whereas Frances is more angular and I found it really fun to have a different name to walk onto stage with. It helped with stage fright at the very beginning.
Do you have a favorite single-named musician?
Do you have a favorite song on Things I’ve Never Said?
Frances: Probably “Grow.” It’s the first song I ever released so it feels very special to me. But I also love it as a song because I’ve never written a chorus melody like that since. It’s quite bizarre but works somehow!
What was the first song you recorded on Things I’ve Never Said?
Frances: I think that was also “Grow,” because I recorded it for my first EP. But of the new songs on the album, I think we started with one called “Don’t Worry About Me.”
Are there leftovers from the Things I’ve Never Said sessions? Around how many songs were written for the album?
Frances: So many leftovers! I think I wrote somewhere between 100 and 150 songs in the end. There are a couple that I’ve already put aside for my second album, though. I loved them but they were a little too mature for my first album. When I wrote them I knew straight away that they were for my second album!
How did you wind up working with Greg Kurstin? Was that an introduction from your label? Did you know of his band The Bird And The Bee?
Frances: It was an introduction from my label, yes. A very lucky introduction indeed! It was one of my favorite writing experiences ever, he’s just incredible. And yes! Not until after our session, but I absolutely love the music. I think my favorite is “Will You Dance?”
Touring aside, what’s coming up for you in 2017?
Frances: I’m touring a lot, which is very exciting! I’m also doing some writing for other artists, which I absolutely love. I’m working on some potential collaborations which is seriously fun. I’d love to write for some more movies after my 50 Shades Darker experience, and I’ll be scheming for my second album! It’s going to be a fun year, I think.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
Frances: Hilariously, music! I always play music in the house, whatever I’m doing really. My family have some beautiful dogs so I love spending time with them, and my family, of course! I love going to the theater, watching movies, watching 10 episodes of Criminal Minds in one sitting. I love cooking, too. Normal stuff, really!
What was your favorite album on 2016?
Finally, Frances, any last words for the kids?
Frances: Stay in school and follow your dreams!