INTERVIEW: FRANCES ELIZA
Frances Eliza is another singer-songwriter who is starting to find their true identity as an artist. Influenced by Lizzy McAlpine and Madison Cunningham, she depicts the notion of a vulnerable and honest brand of alternative folk that sparks intrigue from the off, seamlessly switching melodies and mood. Her latest single 'Notice Me' is exactly that and so much more, in a song that continues to take you by surprise.
It's unique and captivating from Eliza, who shows off her full repertoire in 'Notice Me'. It feels raw but meticulously crafted all at once, adding to the brilliance. We sat down with Frances to learn more about her approach to music and what steps she took in creating 'Notice Me'. Check it out below, exclusively for FLEX!
Hey Frances, how’s it going? Welcome to FLEX!
Hey! I’m doing great, thanks for asking.
What made you want to start making music?
I’ve been singing and listening to music for as long as I can remember and I began really studying music when I was thirteen. I’ve always sung in some capacity, but was fortunate to start taking voice/piano lessons, going to music camps and singing with different choirs when I was around nine years old. My sister and I used to sing a lot together when I was a kid too, covering tons of songs and even recording covers for my dad. As I got older and studied music at different camp programs and ultimately for my bachelors degree, I realised just how much I truly enjoy performing and making music, and began to love writing and sharing my original songs with the world.
Who inspires you creatively?
I listen to a lot of different styles of music but primarily indie-rock, pop and jazz. I’ve recently been extremely inspired by artists like Taylor Swift as well as Phoebe Bridgers, Madison Cunningham, Lizzy McAlpine and The National - especially all of their amazing songwriting abilities. I try my best to listen to and learn from as much new music as I can, but the artists I mentioned always motivate me to write more. I recently started teaching voice lessons which has also inspired me to explore and play more genres of music that I may be a little less familiar with.
Tell us about your new single ‘Notice Me’, we love it! What was the recording and writing process like for this song?
Thank you! “Notice Me” means so much to me. I started writing this song in early 2022 as a sort of ode to some of my personal experiences as a woman existing in the social world, and more specifically within the music industry. The writing process was honestly extremely cathartic for me. The lyric “I don’t want you to notice me” was one of the first lyrics I wrote in this writing process and then I created verses around that overarching concept. I wrote this song in fragments and shaped it over a few months while getting some input from a few close friends of mine. I had a couple lines and concepts in mind that I made sure to include - referencing specific experiences many friends in my life had gone through as well. The lines “I was too busy being told when to smile” and “Telling me I’m too young to know who I want to be” are good examples of this. I started performing “Notice Me” live after I finished it in March of 2022. Once I got a drummer and a bassist on the song, I knew for sure it was the next single I wanted to release. My recording engineer and I started the recording process by recording the drums, and soon after we recorded the guitar parts and added the vocals last. My recording engineer and producer, Jack St. Jean spent months perfecting the song that resulted in the final production of “Notice Me.”
How would you describe your music sonically for our readers?
I would say my voice and guitar playing are rooted in a folk style. I studied jazz voice in college, and that mixed with my classical vocal training has definitely led me to a unique sound that integrates folk, jazz, classical and pop techniques. I perform lots of solo shows where I sing and play guitar covering various indie-rock, pop and folk artists. By playing in settings like coffee shops and cocktail bars I’ve definitely cultivated a more vulnerable and stripped-down sound. In my recordings, that sound is amplified and elevated to more of a pop/rock feel. In “Notice Me,” everything is basically elevated from the original way I wrote it, but we tried to make sure that the surrounding production and instrumentation only added to the intensity and vulnerability of the lyrics. My producer added a lot more ambient sounds and layers to make the song come to life in a new and unique way.
What is ‘Notice Me’ about?
When I started writing “Notice Me,” I was extremely busy with school work, music, my job and my social worlds and felt as though different people, particularly certain men, were making it difficult for me to navigate all these aspects of my life comfortably. I also wanted to capture the feeling of being overwhelmed and wanting to be left alone - feelings that I believe everyone has felt in one way or another. I really liked the idea of having verses build up and explore different emotions, some overwhelmed and anxious, others being more irritated and fed up. I had specific lines in “Notice Me” I was certain I wanted to include when I wrote them. For example, I wrote “Am I starting to give into what they say about me? Maybe I laugh too loudly and my songs are kinda mean” as well as “I was too busy being told when to smile” in direct references to things that men have said to me at some of my shows and in my everyday life.
After performing this song for many months, I received amazing responses from other women who could genuinely relate and empathise with many of the experiences I was referring to. Knowing that made me even more excited to release this track.
Stream 'Notice Me' here:
There seems to be a real rawness to your music and your lyricism, which there seems to be less of nowadays. Is this an approach you strive for when writing?
When writing my own lyrics, I’ve tried many different approaches and styles. I’ve found that I write best when I just lay it all out on the table and be as honest as I can be. I usually start several different musical ideas at a time and record each of them to revisit later. Some of my favorite songs that I’ve composed have been written that way. With “Notice Me” for example, I wrote it in fragments and would come up with specific lines and phrases while singing in my car or doing work at a coffee shop and would write them down and edit them into the song later. I think it also helps that I regularly perform my original music live because I’m often able to see and experience in real time how people are impacted by my music, which helps me to continue to try to be as honest and genuine as I can be with my lyrics.
Do you always write in a specific way or does it depend on the situation and environment you’re in?
I usually write my songs in a similar way. I like to come up with either a strong chord progression or a strong lyric and base everything off of that idea for a bit to help keep me grounded. However, this year I’ve been working on switching things up and have started occasionally writing poems or lines about characters in books, shows and movies and then setting those to music. Sometimes I like to expand on those lines and adjust them to be more relevant to my own personal life. I definitely write better when I’m in an environment with more musicians. For example, I teach a few voice lessons, and sometimes I write more material when I’m finishing up my lessons and in that musical environment.