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Artist Interview: Priya Francis

If Priya Francis wasn’t on your radar before now, you certainly need to check out her music. The Melbourne-based singer-songwriter has a new single out today called “Jeans,” an alternative R&B ode to growing up and growing apart. We got to chat with Priya about the new song, her upcoming EP, and finding inspiration!

CROWDSURFER: How does it feel to have your second single of the year out?

PRIYA FRANCIS: I’m super excited to have the single out! It’s really different from a lot of my other releases, and I’ve been sitting on it for quite a while now. I think I first performed it live back in October last year, so it’s been a long few months finessing it and finalising all the little details to have it ready to put out there.

CS: Tell us about the story behind “Jeans.”

PF: The story behind “Jeans” kinda stems from a situation I was finding myself in often, where I was just losing touch with friends, not seeing or talking to certain friends for a long time without even realising it or without there being some sort of argument or blow-up, and I was in that spot with one of my best friends for a little while. A lot of the people around me were getting pretty upset with the situation but from the way I saw it, it was just her growing up and finding herself a lot quicker than the rest of us, and it wasn’t something I could get mad at her about. She’s still one of my best friends now, I may not speak to her every day or even every week but she’s still one of my favourite people ever, and I think a lot of other people can relate to that.

CS: One of my favorite lines is “but funnily enough I don’t mind / it’s strange to think I reckon we’re fine.” What made you want to write a song that’s different from what we usually hear – intense heartbreak or getting over someone – and instead about outgrowing relationships?

PF: I think like a lot of people, I struggle to write about things I haven’t personally experienced, so things like heartbreak or big heated arguments aren’t really something I can get into the right headspace for, but I’m super connected to my friends and my relationships with other people. Quite a few of my songs are about my friends or their experiences, and I think “Jeans” is just me wanting to try and put into words that feeling of growing apart from someone in a really peaceful way where you still care about them and love them. 

CS: How does “Jeans” differ from the music you released last year?

PF: It’s a lot more direct in my opinion. I think the music I released last year definitely took a step in that direction, but “Jeans” is a lot more authentic for me in terms of storytelling. It’s also a lot less angry and upset, I think. Although it is talking about a subject that can be sad, it’s not as negative about it, it’s more open and understanding. In terms of the sound and vibe of the song, I love the energy in the track, and Jarrod Hambleton, who produced it, really listened to my references and ideas and pushed me to get some new sounds in there that have shaped this track hugely. 

CS: Are “Jeans” and your last single “Butterflies” going to be part of your upcoming EP?

PF: I 100% want “Jeans” on there. I like the idea of “Butterflies” being its own little, humble stand-alone track as a single, but “Jeans” just fits the plan I have for the EP perfectly in terms of storytelling and sound.

CS: What can you tell us about the EP? What’s the sound, what’s the mood, does it have a release date?

PF: I don’t know a whole lot myself. All I have at the moment is the name, quite a few of the tracks, some that are still being picked, some that are being written super last minute and swapped in for others, but no release date at all. To be honest I was kinda very optimistically hoping it would be ready earlier this year, but I think I did a lot of new writing and growing in the time between first recording the demos and laying everything down properly that capturing the sound I want and the level of songwriting has been an ongoing process. Thankfully Jarrod is super understanding and deals with my random bursts of inspiration and demo dumps like a champ. 

CS: What other artists do you draw inspiration from? And how are you using that inspiration in your music?

PF: I draw from a few artists who contrast each other. Kehlani is a huge inspiration for me in terms of how her music mixes storytelling and production, as well as how much she embodies that alternative/RnB pocket so naturally. She’s also just got a criminally under-appreciated voice. I have an ongoing obsession with Jon Bellion just because of how different his approach to songwriting and production is, and his lyrics are out of this world, so I always try and look back at lyrics and challenge myself to make them better. H.E.R, D’Angelo, Snoh Aalegra, and Lauryn Hill are probably the other artists I’m constantly referencing whenever I’m listening to new music for inspiration, things to learn or trying to implement sounds into my own stuff. 

CS: I don’t know how things are in Melbourne, but what have you been doing to stay focused on your music throughout the pandemic?

PF: It’s pretty grim in Melbourne at the moment but we’re all doing what we can! I’ve been trying to get better at playing the guitar because I’m absolutely rubbish if I don’t have a capo with me, so learning some trickier chords and stuff like that which will just make my songwriting a bit easier. I’m being super pedantic about writing down literally every development that’s made music wise, whether that’s a new song I’ve sent over, notes for vocal production, a collaboration or just something I’m excited about. I also make an obscene amount of Spotify playlists so that’s always good for getting me inspired.

CS: It was also just your birthday! Did you do anything fun?

PF: It was! I mean, I did as much as I could in lockdown haha. I had dinner with my family and my little sister makes stupidly good brownies so we demolished a tray of those. I also had some drinks over Zoom with my best friends which is always a great time.

CS: Do you have anything else you want to tell everyone?

PF: Keep an eye out!! There’s definitely music on the way, whether it’s my own stuff or collaborations with a bunch of other talented musicians, I’m super keen for all the music that’s about to be out. Also stay safe and wear your masks!!! 

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