HIS new album is out…
so I have been speaking with Francois Klark about Love and whether he is pleased it is out in the world. He reveals what sort of experiences inspired the album - he talks about the lyric video for the standout track, For You.
I was eager to know which artists and albums the Toronto-based musician is drawn to and whether there are going to be tour dates. South African-born Klark tells me how he relaxes away from music and which new artists we should be aware of.
Hi, Francois. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam. Great chatting with you again. The week has been great, in spite of a small YouTube scare during which an online bug erased my YouTube channel. It is all fixed now, though, so you guys can check out the new lyric (for) For You again.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure thing. I’m a small town South African choirboy, graphic design drop-out and music graduate now living in Toronto, Canada. I spend most of my time on mountains; anywhere that is close to trees and large bodies of water and behind my baby grand piano writing songs. I’m a massive science fiction fan, which might explain my love for using big synths and vocoder. I’m also a romantic, so recording music with just raw vocals, piano and a string section makes me very happy.
Growing up In South Africa instilled in me a deep love for world music and, as a result, I find that music from different cultures often bleeds into my music production choices.
Are you excited your debut album, Love, is out? How does it feel knowing it is out there?
It feels great knowing that it is out there...
It’s been finished, but unreleased, for quite some time because my team and I decided to hold off on the album release until we released a few singles first. Needless to say, I’ve been itching to get it out for a while now.
Is there a song from the album that stands out as a personal highlight?
For You is, by far, my favourite. When I listen back to it, it makes me feel like I am back in my home country of South Africa. It was also my favourite song to work on because some of my closest friends were the musicians and featured artists who worked on it with me.
What sort of experiences and stories did you draw on when writing the songs?
The songs were all written over a long period of time during which I went through very formative experiences. I initially wrote each song as a way to deal with things that were happening in my life as I was going through it.
Always - coming to terms with every aspect of who I am; Please Stay - dealing with a long-distance relationship that was falling apart; The Only One - discovering my relationship with music as I was growing up. Some songs I wrote to tell made-up stories (Run, Spaceman and Giving My All). I wrote For You in order to unpack an issue that I am very passionate about - children's rights, freedom and safety. The song is also very closely tied to my childhood and my love for my home country, South Africa.
Toronto is where you are based. How is life for a young musician there? Is it a great place to make music and feel inspired?
This beautiful and bustling city is an amazing place to live in as a creative person. My direct community of fellow songwriters and musicians are very closely-knit and incredibly supportive. This community, along with the support of the Government of Canada and an organization called the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR), makes it possible for independent artists like me to pursue our creative ideas and make a career out of it.
Very thankful to now call this city home….
Which artists inspired you back then? Do you remember the first album you bought
Some of my earliest inspirations as a kid were Lauryn Hill (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill), Alanis Morissette (Jagged Little Pill) and Erykah Badu. However, my first album purchase happened long before I discovered these powerhouse ladies. I am slightly embarrassed to tell you that my first album purchase was the soundtrack of the Disney film, Beauty and the Beast. In my defence; the orchestral arrangements and songwriting on that album were amazing.
Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?
Beyond music and promoting the Love album, I would like to take a university Spanish course and visit Oaxaca, Mexico during Dia de los Muertos.
Do you have a favourite memory from your time in music?
Definitely, my years performing with and travelling through all of South Africa with the children’s and youth choirs that I sang with.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
Crash - Dave Matthews Band
D.M.B. made me fall in love with painting pictures with words and telling stories with songs. I have a high-school buddy to thank for passing this album on to me and introducing me to D.M.B. (thanks, Dirk!) This album is pretty much the soundtrack to some of my favourite memories.
Cloudburst and Other Choral Works - Eric Whitacre, Polyphony and Stephen Layton
This is, hands-down, my favourite album of all time. Turn off all the lights, lie down in your favourite place; put on some really good headphones and have your mind blown. If we could hear the universe sing: this is what I think it would sound like.
Phase (Deluxe) - Jack Garratt
From the first to the last song - a masterpiece of songwriting, musicianship and the most imaginative and creative production.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Write all the time; surround yourself with truly genuine and good people. Make true friends, not contacts; don't follow trends - trends will pass by the time you're ready to release your music. Be true to what comes naturally to you. Find a purpose for your music - it wasn't given to you to serve you.
IN THIS IMAGE: Anomalie/IMAGE CREDIT: alihassanein.com
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I think it is very important to spend time away from creating music and working on the business side of music – especially, once I finished a release. It is only through living life that we are exposed to new things and experiences that will, in turn, be the subject matter of new songs.
I unwind by going outside; going for a run, working out; going travelling and doing things that scare me a little bit (spelunking: jumping off a bridge into a river…I’m yet to skydive.)
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Do You Remember (Grey Remix) - Jarryd James
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