She’s been touring the UK with Mercury Prize winner Arlo Parks lately, she’s got a glorious voice, and she hails from Nashville… Meet Frances Baker. I couldn’t resist getting in touch with the singer-songwriter after the Belgrave gig in Leeds.
RECORD WEEKLY’S INTERVIEW WITH FRANCES BAKER
Hey Frances, how are you?
I’m good thanks!
You’ve opened for Arlo Parks on her tour lately — how has that felt? Which crowds/venues were your favourites?
It’s felt great. It’s super out of my comfort zone, so it’s been an awesome environment to grow and learn in.
I’m actually used to playing with a guitar and having a band with me generally — this experience has put me on the spot and forced me to try something new in that area as well.
You mentioned at the Leeds show that this is your first time in the UK. How have you found it?
Lovely! I’ve been plant-based for a bit now and, in Leeds, I found gummies, marshmallows and fudge that I could eat. Also, going to the Natural History Museum in London and seeing all the gems and minerals was amazing. I feel super-lucky that I’ve got to go to these different cities and explore the country this way.
That’s fantastic! What impact musically has the pandemic had on you? And how has it been generally in the States, where you live?
I’m currently based in Boston for uni. The pandemic really gave me space to explore music; I actually got into producing last August, after spending the first bit of the pandemic working on art.
Boston has been very shut down, which I haven’t minded so much. My roommate and I have tried to go out in nature and for picnics, make earrings, draw, paint, sew, bake, and the likes. My roommate also has impeccable music taste and she’s introduced me to heaps of new stuff, which has been amazing. Definitely excited for restaurants and museums to be back open, though.
Gosh, that’s intense that Boston’s yet to properly reopen!
Yeah, it’s stayed very closed down really.
So, let’s talk origins — when and how did you get into making music?
Forever! I’ve always been singing; in my elementary school’s state play, I was Tammy Wynette, one of country music’s biggest singers in the ‘60s.
I started performing really angsty, long, original songs in middle school and got my first band in high school. I played with them for a bit, had a band in college, went through another sad acoustic phase and then got really into producing. I’ve had a lot of fun finding my sound.
Nice! Which artists have inspired you the most?
Erykah Badu, Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and probably Flying Lotus.
Finding Erykah Badu’s ‘Mama’s Gun’ in high school was a game changer haha. That album does not have a bad moment on it. I listened to it everyday on the way to and from work.
Donny Hathaway’s on the list for his amazing technique, beautiful voice, and his songs’ arrangements. And it’s got to be Aretha for her voice and presence, then Ella and Etta for the emotion — specifically Ella. All her songs are about crying. I adore them. And Flying Lotus’ material just has some of my favourite production ever.
I am currently really into A. G. Cook, too, but these others are my long-term go-to artists.
What’s next on the agenda? Anything you can tease yet?
Releasing some more songs, and I’m going to put out an EP! Otherwise, I just want to learn the craft as much as I can.