The singer-songwriter talks creating lo-fi hits, his forthcoming debut album and creating three new albums in lockdown.
Lo-fi pioneer JW Francis has been steadily building his collection of sun-drenched bedroom dream-pop over the years, and now the singer is ready to drop his debut album We Share A Similar Joy this November. Having teased us with warm and woozy single “New York” and his new tune “Good Time”, it’s fair to say the singer is ramping up the anticipation and is leaving fans feverishly waiting.
In typical JW Francis style, the artist’s new single “Good Time” is a nostalgia-tinged hit, filled with jangly guitars and contagious melodies that are sure to brighten your end-of-summer blues. Speaking on the track the artist said, “Have you ever tried to capture a moment in time, like catching an insect in a glass jar? With this song, I wanted to say now is a good time. Just like now is a good time. Or now. It’s always a good time.”
Between releasing chilled music and touring across 19 different states in the US, the singer continues to work a day-job as a research assistant for a Nobel Prize-winner, as well as running a murder-mystery business on the side. While it all might seem like too much for one person, Francis assures us that all these creative avenues come together to influence his unique and signature sound. We sat down with the artist talking lockdown, his biggest challenges and what we can expect from the upcoming album.
Check out the interview below…
Hi JW Francis, how has the pandemic and the uncertainty of this year impacted your music and art?
I was completely isolated for three months so I worked on three new albums: one about loneliness, one about wanting to get outside, and one about Christmas.
How did growing up in Tulsa influence you sonically? Who were your musical heroes?
I grew up in Sapulpa, just outside of Tulsa, Vermont, and Paris so I’m a bit all over the place. My music and my hobbies are a bit all over the place too. My musical heroes when I was growing up were people who seemed a bit all over the place as well like Kevin Barnes from of Montreal or Mica Levi from Micachu.
Your tunes are so sun-soaked and energetic – how would you describe your genre?
Probably like lofi bedroom slacker jangle AM radio pop.
Congratulations on your forthcoming debut album We Share A Similar Joy – what does the name mean and how long has it been in the making?
Thank you! The album has been in the making for a long time. I’m very excited to finally share it all. I overheard a conversation once where someone was describing their best friend and they said “I think we share a sheer enjoyment of living.” That phrase really stuck with me but I hated the alliteration of “share a sheer” so it became We Share a Similar Joy. I wanted a title that would make you go “mm” and gently smile.
What were the biggest challenges in putting it together, especially at a time like this?
Well, luckily the album was done before the pandemic hit. One of the funniest challenges was making the music videos for the album in a time of social distancing. I’ve mostly been working with a video artist named Clayton McCracken, and we’ve found some ways to get creative even when I’m in New York and he’s in LA.
And what is the album influenced and inspired by – any unusual references or places?
It’s very personal. The first two tracks are about my grandmother Collette, there’s a song about where I live “New York”, there’s a song that sums up how I feel about a lot of things called “I’m Down, Whatever.”
And the visuals for “Good Time” are like Uncut Gems style trippy – what did you want to convey?
That video is magic. I’ve got a great friend named John Stone who professionally collects, buy and sells precious stones. I’ve got another great friend Clayton McCracken who is a video deity. I introduced the two of them and it birthed a magical video. More than wanting to convey anything I just wanted those two people to meet.
A New York tour guide, a research assistant for a Nobel-Prize-winner, and you also run a murder-mystery business – you’ve done so many eclectic jobs – do you think this widespread curiosity is apparent in your music and sound?
I sure hope so. If it isn’t already, it will be for sure.
What do you hope listeners will take from the album?
“Hey these are some great tunes, and this JW guy seems all right. I’m in for whatever’s next.” Hopefully, that is what they’ll say.
What’s next for you and what are you excited about in 2020
For this year I’m mostly excited about Christmas. I’ve got a few Christmas songs coming out. I’m also excited to come out with another album next year, and hopefully tour it a little bit when it’s safe and responsible.