Interview: ANGELIQUE FRANCIS
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Music has always had a very large presence in my life, and has played an important role in shaping my personal identity. It is my means of expression, my culture, and provides a gateway in which I can connect with others. I wear many hats as a music professional, such as: multi-genre singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, producer, audio-engineer/technician, etc. The influence of music on our daily lives is beautiful, immense and powerful. I cannot imagine a life for myself, where music would not be heavily involved. If I had not chosen to become a professional working directly in music, I may have become a computer engineer or a lawyer; but I probably would have found a way to make music intersect with my chosen field.
I was born into music. When I was younger my father had a recording studio in our house. I was so amazed with the process of bringing a song to life. It was like a magical moment captured and suspended in time. I first took the stage at age 7, and at 13 years old I made my American national television debut on the Oprah Network, for writing and composing an original theme song for the Gayle King show. By age 13, I was playing several instruments including the acoustic guitar, upright Bass, electric guitar and electric bass. By age 14, I was playing at music festivals across North America, and the rest is history.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When I’m not performing music, I’m in the studio working on new tunes, writing songs, composing for film/tv/audio series, and doing various other things to help me run a music business. I am also a professional voice over artist. I love that there are so many different aspects to being a music professional. I am constantly learning new things that help to evolve my creative process.
How long has your band been around?
I have been performing for several years (since I started very young, it’s been almost two decades). My band – The Angelique Francis band – has several different iterations, but most often you will see us as a six piece band (all of whom are on my new album “Long River”); Myself (on lead vocals, upright bass, electric bass guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and blues harmonica), Kharincia Francis (on baritone, tenor, and alto sax), Kira Francis (on trombone, and backing vocals), Dave Williamson (on lead electric guitar), and Ed Lister (on Trumpet and keys). Our newest member is lead guitarist Dave Williamson, who joined us in 2019.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I am based in Ottawa, Canada. This is such a wonderful city, and it is an excellent in-between location when you are a travelling musician!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Informally my band’s name is “The Angelique Francis band”, but officially it’s simply “Angelique Francis” after my name. I often add the “band” to inform others that I am not a solo act. You’ll almost never see me performing alone.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
There are so many! I love to perform and have been to many amazing venues and festivals all over the globe, including: Sighisoara Blues Festival (Romania), Massey Hall (Women’s Blues Revue), Montreal Jazz Festival, Mariposa Folk Fest, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Ottawa Blues Festival, London Music Festival, Aurora Winter Blues Festival, Mont-Tremblant Blues Festival, Trios-Rivieres Blues festival, Ottawa Folk Fest, Val-d’Or Blues Fest, Calabogie Blues Festival and the list goes on.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
There are a ton of places I would love to play. I look forward to continue traveling and meeting wonderful people along the way.
There are so many incredible venues and music festivals that I have played. It’s so hard to choose just one! I would have to say that a recent memorable performance of mine has been and The Keeping the Blues Alive Festival in Miami and Jamaica; where we shared the stage with a number of legendary musicians such as Keb’ Mo’, Joe Bonamassa, Eric Gales, Jimmy Vivino, George Thorogood, and many more.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
It would be so hard to choose! There are too many names to even comprehend. But if we stick to living legends: Buddy Guy, Al Green, Patti LaBelle, Harry Belafonte, Bootsy Collins, Tina Turner, and so on.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Have fun! Try to learn new skills along the way, and perform as much as can.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
There are so many pieces of affordable gear I wish I had gotten before they stopped production. I would tell myself to invest in those pieces before the prices skyrocketed and they were impossible to find.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I have always used my music as a form of expression and communication. Some songs are very personal, others are reflective and allegorical, and some are made specifically to be danced to and enjoyed together. They all have meaning to me, although what that meaning is, certainly differs. Some very meaningful songs can be found on my new album Long River.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
As a multi-genre musician, I have the opportunity to play at a wide variety of venues and music festivals and interact with many different kinds of audiences. I have played Blues festivals, Jazz festivals, Folk festivals, Opera houses, Reggae festivals, Rock venues, Gospel shows, Hip-hop festivals, etc. I greatly enjoy playing the songs I think my audience will enjoy the most. My favourite song and most requested song can change depending on the genre, the venue (indoors/outdoors), the city, and even the particular individuals in the audience each day.
I am also constantly writing new songs, and recently I have been getting a lot of requests to play songs from my new album “Long River”, including: Soul Train Line, Long river, Heaven Water, Right As Rain, and Storms From My Eyes.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
All of the song writing and composing is done by myself and Kiran Francis. I am inspired by everything: from my personal experiences, to those of others, world events, and fictional stories.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I love making music because it is a tool I can use to help others, express myself, communicate, and bring people together. I believe that music can make a positive lasting impact in this world. Through my songs I hope to help others by giving them a means to process whatever they may be going through, spread messages of love and light, inform those of a cultural history, give them a healthy distraction from their worries, connect with one another, or help them to dance, celebrate and spread joy.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
No, nothing of the sort! The only thing I can think of, is when there are arguments over who will get the last slice of pizza. Most of the band (Kiran, Kira, Kharincia, and I) are family. Dave Williamson, and Ed Lister have been our friends for many years before we started playing together as a band.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We recently released our with our new album “Long River” which you can listen to here:
We will be releasing more music videos and related content in the incoming weeks and months, so be on the lookout for some exciting updates. We also have a packed spring/summer performance schedule for North America and Europe. You can learn more by going to my website https://angeliquefrancis.net/shows and by following me on my social media pages at https://linktr.ee/AngeliqueFrancis.