Alice Francis is a Jazz & Neo-Swing/Charleston singer from Romania with an African background, living in Germany. She is a girl from the 21st Century with great affection towards the early decades of the past century, like the roaring 20’s. She loves vintage style and antiques, because for her, there is always something new to discover, each time you look at it.
That relates to music too – she loves the sound of old recordings. The beginning of 1900 was also the beginning of the first professional music recordings. It was totally different from what we know today: no Computer, no difficult editing and one microphone for the whole band. If someone made mistakes, but the vibe of the take was good, they left it like it was and launched the record.
It sounds real, ruff and honest. Nevertheless, she is a gal from the 21st century with a passion for auto-tune, Synth sounds and Goldie’s crazy technology parc, he uses in the studio and live on stage.
Goldie is the producer, musical director and co- founder of Alice Francis. There is also Sir Chul-Min Yoo from Korea who is singing the backing vocals live – so they are basically three main people on stage.
YQ: When and how did you first become interested in singing?
Alice: I am thinking… but I cannot think of a point in history when I started doing music, it just happened somehow, and only later did I realize I was doing it. You know, my wish had always been becoming an opera singer. I practiced with my dad’s records at home – which actually where more jazz.
My family was excited but also annoyed sometimes because I was overdoing it at times. I had also always been interested in writing. I wrote a lot of poems and made brochures out of them. Then my parents gave me a guitar for my 11th birthday and I found out that I could also sing my poems.
And so it went on and on… I met someone who knew someone… producers, musicians etc., and finally, I met Goldie. We had a vibe and started doing music together more and more. But until ”what you hear” came out, almost 7 years passed by, and a very important person who is responsible for this specific direction came about: Johann Niegl.
He came up with these crazy beats and I started singing Jazz and Swing lines to them. “What are you made of?”, our very first single, was born-Goldie produced it then and gave it his very special „Neo“ touch.
YQ: Your music is quite different and unique compared to the one we hear nowadays. How would you describe your music style/genre?
Alice: I would say we do pop music with a lot of influences from Swing, Jazz and especially genres from the beginning of the last century, like Charleston. Actually, we come from hip-hop with a variable musical background. And that is not all because we have a great team we’re working with.
Goldie is the producer who brings everything together and is very much into electronics; I bring in the off-beat, the Swing and „Charleston“ style, and also rap and hip hop; Waldemar Parra is a jazz professor from Chile – we do a lot of the jazz songs together; the Niegl Bross are more the programming hip-hop kind of guys; Till Krempel made some of our last Big Band arrangements, like in our current Christmas single: Big Daddy Santa Claus; and there are many more people we’re working with.
Goldie also makes the vocal quire arrangements, which Sir Chul-Min Yoo and Nathalie Kies sing. Our next album will be exciting – we have also included Dixieland tunes and Tango in it.
YQ: Is it easier or harder for you to create a new path in today’s music industry with Neo-Charleston?
Alice: Actually, I don t know if it’s easy or hard, I don’t have the experience to compare it with. I know that media people are often contemplating our music as niche or noncommercial – so it’s not easily played on mainstream channels.
But Parov Stelar, for example, is well known, and so, he created a sensibility for Electro swing. We are not exactly Electro swing, but I would say we’re connected to this genre, so people are more open-minded and sensitive.
We have a great fan base worldwide and people also want to hear our music on the radio or TV. It’s the natural way I guess, if you do something new or unusual, you need to give everybody time to acclimate so to say.
YQ: Your nickname is Miss Flapperty? What does Miss Flapperty stand for?
Alice: Flappers were the Punk gals of the 20ies who chose to quit sticking to their expected role model: cooking, cleaning, housekeeping, and children. Instead – they cut their hair, cut their skirts, “wore too much make up”, danced the night away in Speak Easies (the clubs that illegally sold alcohol during the prohibition), the ladies smoked and had sex.
They were rebels and pioneers of their time. Emancipation started long before, but I guess they also had a great impact on women’s role in today’s society. The ending of flapperty comes from Liberty – Yes, I love, live and need freedom, Liberty is an essential need every creature on earth is longing for and must have.
I love to call people flapperties or in short form Flappies, maybe also because I am subconsciously reminding everyone of their natural right to be, to feel and act free.
YQ: What song from your St. James Ballroom album carries the deepest meaning for you and why?
Alice: „Deepest meaning“ seems a little evaluative. I wouldn’t make that distinction because I think a happy song that can make people smile and be happy when listening to it is as important as a very tragic, heavy song with a meaning.
I mean, I wrote a song for my older sister about when she ran away from home when she was 18 years old, and I didn’t understand what that meant. At first I thought “oh that’s not too bad when I have the room to myself”, but then I realized she was gone and I became really worried and missed her so much. Fortunately, she came back after 3 weeks.
And you know when someone really annoys me, something like >>Kiss My Ass<< comes out – smile.
YQ: Do you have any role models in today’s music industry that you admire and look up to?
Alice: We have great musicians in today’s music business. I love Erykah Badu, Eminem and I like Beyoncé’s music. I have idols that passed away unfortunately – Django Reinhard for example, who was a virtuoso guitar player even though he had only three fingers.
YQ: Parov Stelar himself offered his collaboration on a remix for your first single Shoot Him Down. What does that mean to you? What was it like to work with Parov Stelar?
Alice: Parov Stelar is a great and well known artist – he won a lot of awards and has a huge fan base worldwide, which he built up step by step for many years with no major record company which is a huge accomplishment – I really respect him. It was a great honor to work with him and we thank him for working with us.
Before we met or found out about Parov, we didn’t know anything about Electro swing. We just made that kind of music which is very similar to Electro swing without knowing that there was a worldwide scene for it, and many other great artists doing that kind of music. When we found out, we were thrilled and totally excited.
YQ: Do you sing in the shower? If you do, name us your 3 favorite songs to sing.
Alice: I used to sing in the shower like many other people do because of the nice long reverb and pleasant sound. When I think about it, I don’t do that so often any more. Maybe because I have many other possibilities now to sing with reverb and I don’t spend so much time in the shower as I used to.
Most of the time, I am rushing from a gig to the studio, to a meeting, shooting or something else. And when I have time, I love to spend it with my family or friends.
YQ: 2015 is the new beginning. Did you write your New Year’s resolutions, and can you reveal the 3 things from your list to our readers?
Alice: Uaah, I have a few days left to do that now… I haven’t thought about it so much … but we’re working on a plan to save the world.
YQ: What are your plans for 2015? Do you plan going on a tour?
Alice: We definitely want to finish the new album and release it. We’d like to make a feature with a French artist. We plan to come back to Sweden for a tour and we are going on a tour in Canada by the end of the year. I‘d love to go to Japan – it has been a life-long wish of mine.
YQ: Being a singer, you get to perform in front of so many people. Can you describe us one on-stage memory that you will never forget?
Alice: There are many unforgettable moments with audiences in different countries. But I will never forget Sweden, when the audience jumped on stage before we even started, hugged and kissed us like crazy, and stole our towels before we had the chance to use them properly. That was so unforgettably funny. We really loved them.
YQ: Do you have any piece of advice for our readers who want to start a music career with their own unique music genre? What’s the recipe for success?
Alice: Ability, individuality, authenticity, endurance, discipline and still it all remains uncertain.
There you have it; you can make it even if you dedicate yourself to some less commercial, unique artistic views that inspire you. If you would like to find more about Alice, you can visit her Facebook page, as well as her Website.