Can you tell me when you first took an interest in music? What inspired you, and how did you begin creating your own music?
Well my family is a music loving family and I remember listening to my parents Jim Reeves LP’s, to Ray Charles and their calypso songs. My older brothers and sisters listened to music genres ranging from reggae to soul and rock to disco so there were lots of influences. The first song I bought was by Elkie Brooks but I went clubbing to jazz funk and went to see a wide range of bands in concert from soul legends Maze to Ska bands like the Specials!
My first attempts to make music were when I was a teenager and started writing songs and recording them on my cassette player. They were all rubbish. I started doing live work when I was in my late teens and joined bands as a backing singer. Eventually I started an all girl group with my sister and cousin.
How would you describe your music?
I would say Soul Pop as a simple answer but think Desree meets Soul to Soul. You can hear my love for the funky, the jazzy and Latin flavours coming through my music but I always tell a story with my lyrics.
How often do you write new material? And where does your inspiration come from?
It comes in waves. A memory, something I’ve seen or heard about might trigger an idea.
What subjects do you most enjoy writing songs about?
My songs are always based on something true. A story about me or someone I know. Sometimes they are just to express my feelings on a subject – could be love, friendship, family, or just life in general. Once in a while, random words come to mind in the way of a hook and how to give those words meaning might come along later.
What draws you to those subjects?
I think I just write lyrics to express how something made me feel, how I see life and the people in my life too.
How long does it take to create a new song and what is the process?
There’s no set amount of time. It could be a matter of hours or a few weeks. Months have been known to pass before I can get from Chorus 1 to Verse 2.
I usually find myself humming a melody and words will filter their way in to my head. Next, come the lyrics. But there are times when it’s words first. I’ve got something I want to say but I don’t know what melody I will put to them until I sit with them for a while. Then I try to find the right chords, tempo and rhythm to convey the message. I work closely at this stage with my music partner and husband who has fantastic knowledge of chords and chord progressions and will change my G major to an F sharp flattened diminished five!
You have chosen Beautiful People for readers to listen to. Can you tell me what inspired that song and what it means to you?
The melody came to me first and reminded me of one of my favourite bands, Earth Wind & Fire. It was a tribute to their lovely melodies but I ended up putting my own spin on it in the end.
The message is about being yourself, striving for the best you can be and being a star in your own life – not trying to measure up to anyone else. You can be as beautiful as the people media tell us are wonderful, perfect. It suited my mood at a time when I doubted my talents and was struggling with how I came across. I wasn’t like anyone else I could see and I thought that would be a bad thing. In music everyone is always looking for the next big whoever and I didn’t sound like any of the female artists that were ‘making it’. I realised that being me and being the best I could be was what was important. Once people heard my music they could either like it or not but at least I was being honest to myself and not trying to conform or copy.
It was the first song that got me thinking about adding harmonies to my songs instead of the solo voice as in my first album, probably because of E W & F.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
I am about to release my second album entitled, Beautiful People. The digital release date on CD Baby, iTunes etc is 30 September 2013. I’ve had some airplay which is great and have some internet radio interviews lined up too.
I’ll keep on making music and trying to grow my fanbase. I intend to do a lot more live work than I have been doing as well as playing some singer-songwriter nights around London.
Where can people find out more about you?
First stop would be my website www.franclark.co.uk. Links to all my other media can be found there.
A preview track from Beautiful People is available on iTunes here.
- Fran Clark’s ‘writing life’ interview can be read here.
- Fran Clark’s interview discussing her début novel ‘Holding Paradise’ can be read here.