Frances Clare talks about touring the UK and the new video
Frances Clare is a proudly South African, female-fronted five-piece band. With stripped-down lyrics, expert nuancing, beautifully layered vocal melodies and consistently open, honest delivery, Frances Clare presents the listener with a balanced showcase of emotional integrity and untold maturity that speaks to the innate talent of the five music teachers who make up this enigmatic Cape Town-based act.
Frances Clare’s most recent tour took the pared-down ensemble of Frances and Steven to the UK in the heart of winter, playing well-known venues like The Bedford, where both Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith have performed; The Halfmoon in Putney that previously hosted U2; as well as the Dublin Castle in Camden where they headlined a show in a space where Amy Winehouse used to sing.
I caught up with Frances to chat about the recent tour, their new music video and their future plans:
First, you’re back from your UK tour! Tell me a bit about some of the highlights; Which were some of the best shows and venues, and how were the crowds?
It is actually unbelievable that we arrived back just a month and a half ago! We had the best time. Some highlights include headlining a venue that Amy Winehouse used to sing at and eating crumpets and tea for breakfast every day! There was also a crazy moment in Scotland where we caught someone singing our lyrics off by heart… Overall, we were blown away by how full the crowds were and we definitely had a few favourite venues. Newcastle with Spotlight Presents and London at The Bedford were standouts.
Wow! You’ve also recently released the video for ‘Catastrophic’. It’s simply beautiful! How did you come up with the idea behind it?
Thank you so much! The whole process behind it was a true leap of faith. A few days before the time we were tagged in a social media post advertising a live video slot. Although we were excited about the idea of capturing a part of our trip, we weren’t sure what to expect! On the day when we showed up at the beautiful Church in Hoxton we could not believe our luck. There was definitely a little bit of stress involved however because we had to do everything in one take with a time limit.
What is the story behind this song?
‘Catastrophic’ is one of the first songs that I ever performed. It is actually the song that made our guitarist, Devon De Swardt, decide he wanted to be in a band with me! For some reason, we never recorded it with the full band. However, when we decided to rework it for our duo UK tour it took on a new life (sssh, don’t tell the band but I might prefer this version!). It became the song that we started every UK show off with and so it feels really special to share it with our friends and family back home.
You’ve also announced that you have put together a crew for a new music video. For which song will this one be and what is the idea?
The video is for our latest release, ‘Go’, which to our delight was nominated as one of the top 15 tracks on Banks Radio in Australia. The song is an anthem about determination and the music video is focused on female soccer. We’re filming at the Indoor Sports Arena in Montague Gardens and we have a seriously talented crew of AFDA students on board! Expect a video featuring talented female soccer players, some cool tricks and a cameo of my little sister.
Awesome! So, I read that all (or at least most) of you have an educational background in music. Does this make it easier to write new music?
Yes! We have all taught music at some point and Trish, Devon and Emil teach full time. Trish is the nerdiest out of us – she has her Masters in violin. I’m busy completing my third year of music performance this year. Devon studied guitar at UCT, Steven is at UNISA and Emil was top in South Africa for his grade 8 rock school. Funnily enough, our songs are pretty simple theory wise…When we started out I had zero grasps of any theory so it came in very handy that I was in a room with 4 music teachers!
So, can we expect a full album this year?
This idea makes the band and I very excited. We definitely have enough songs but our focus this year is on me finishing my degree and getting a few more local and international tours under our belts! However, I can tell you that we have a single that we haven’t announced yet. We entered it into the International Songwriting Competition and just found out that it is through to the semi-finals. Fingers crossed.
Who or what, besides other music and other artists, inspire you to make music every day?
We have the most incredible fans from all over the world. One of our biggest motivations, after our families, has to be sending our music and content out to people who connect with it. We’re constantly reminded that music plays a huge role in the world and it’s awesome to be a part of it.
You’ve also recently created a platform to assist independent artists with international tour planning. Tell me a bit more about this project?
Touring is something that every artist should experience! So often society has this idea that touring only happens when you are playing stadiums. This is partly because travelling to a foreign town or country is pretty daunting without a label! We decided to share as much as we’ve learnt from our tours to the UK and Europe with the main message being that artists absolutely can do it independently. More so, the world needs to hear the incredible South African music that we all get to enjoy. We have started weekly blogs on our website, www.francesclareband.com with tips. If you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover please send them to email@example.com
And if you could give a new band just one tip about touring, what would it be?
Book your bed before your show! The trick to touring independently is to keep your expenses to a minimum. The best way to do this is to structure tours around places where you have family or friends to stay with.
What else are you currently busy with?
Frances – Trying to get enough sleep
Steven – Playing solo under the name “Steven Jarvis”
Devon – Raising his two beautiful children
Emil – Being happily married
Trish – Being obsessed with her cat “Aries”
And where do you hope to take Frances Clare; What are your biggest goals?
It sounds so cheesy but the sky’s the limit. In terms of the next 5 years, we would love to head to the States. Australia and New Zealand are also on the bucket list. If we are talking about a 10-year plan, we would love to win a Grammy (wouldn’t everyone?) and keep pushing South African music into the limelight. One thing’s for sure, we will definitely be touring back to the UK VERY soon.
Lastly, where can we catch you perform live next?
We will be at The Courtyard in McGregor on the 4th of April.
Thank you so much for taking the time to send such lovely, well thought out questions. It was a pleasure to answer them.
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Photos: Deborah Stevenson