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Interview with Francesca Panetta
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Although neither of my parents are, or ever have been musicians, both of them are huge music lovers. So I grew up listening and dancing around to a wide variety of classic music. Everything from classic rock, to big band music and crooners of the 1940s. I used to try and match the sound of the singers I heard on the radio.
If I hadn’t gotten into music from such a young age, I think I would have eventually decided to pursue the social sciences, specifically psychology. I actually almost went to post-secondary school for the subject.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
My favorite way to spend my down time is outside, if the weather permits it. Spending the day going for a hike on a scenic trail, or in a forest, maybe bringing a speaker along and listening to some tunes! I do believe this has a huge impact on my music. Especially in my earlier songwriting, I considered myself to be a “modern day hippie” (and still do!) because of how much I write about nature and how I find relations in it to human behavior.
How long has your band been around?
At the moment, I am a solo act, however I am constantly on the lookout for bandmembers. But as a solo musician, I’ve been working in performance for most of my life. With the releasing my original music beginning at the start of the pandemic.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am currently based out of a small town just north of Toronto, called Thornton. Going back to my love for nature, my hometown has greatly influenced my music. Although small, Thornton has a wide variety of nature trails to walk or bike upon, that you can catch a glimpse of in my music video for my song “When the Sunshine Rains”!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
When I was starting out, I did ponder the idea of performing under a stage name. However, I ultimately decided that using my real name was the way to go for me. Authenticity is a huge part of why I write in the first place. Not to say that having a stage name makes you unauthentic, but it just felt like the right call for me.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I am still fairly new to the performance side of things (thanks to the pandemic!), so most of my shows have been relatively small up until this point. However, this coming September I will be performing at a local music festival known as Gussapolooza. This will likely be the largest audience of my professional career so far, so to say I’m excited is an understatement.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Another one of my favorite pastimes is, of course, going to concerts and experiencing live music. Some of the best shows I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, took place at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. I think the venue has some of the best acoustics I’ve heard. I also appreciate that the size is small and intimate, yet big enough to hold a vibrant crowd. Definitely on the bucket list!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
So many! Some classics: Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Queen. Along with some modern acts who I admire greatly: The Midnight, Yebba, John Mayer, Kodaline. To name a few!
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?
The number one thing I would tell someone breaking into the industry, and something I wish I had been told more: Figure out who you are as a person BEFORE you start worrying about your image as an artist. Or at least have a good idea. It’s so easy to get lost in the depths of “imagery” when it comes to this business. All the higher-ups tell you to have a “gimmick” that people will latch on to, to make them like you. Although this is definitely a good business strategy, just make sure you have a solid hold on your values first, because it’s easy to lose them amongst the chaos.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Each of my songs hold a different piece of me, but for the purpose of choosing one, I’d probably still say “Clouded”. Of all my released music, this song is my oldest. It’s also the first song I wrote where I felt like I found my “sound”. Clouded is very much about my relationship with myself as well as my relationship with music and the industry. Something that I think still holds relevant today.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Recently, my favorite song to play live has been When the Sunshine Rains. I think it’s because, being an independent musician, I’m kind of forced to create more laidback, acoustic versions of all my songs to perform live because I don’t have a band to back me up. However, this gives me a chance to play around and create a new sound for each song. And I just happen to really like the mellowed out, acoustic version of When the Sunshine Rains. It gives a new life to the song that I didn’t originally hear for it back in production.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Something that always puts me in the mood to write a song, is a rainy day. I call it “songwriting weather”. Something about the gloominess inspires me to feel very verbally creative. Sometimes I’ll even add things to further set the mood, like lighting a candle, or putting a moody effect on my guitar. Some of my favorite songs have come out of this weather.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I often sit down to write music when I’m feeling down or just have something on my mind. But the last thing I want is to make people more depressed coming out of this pandemic. So with that in mind, I try very hard to keep an uplifting tone. If there are some dark undertones to a song I’m working on, I’ll attempt to twist the lyrics or the melody in a way that makes it feel relatable, and makes anyone listening feel less alone. Or even just that there’s a brighter light on the other side.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I have a couple of new singles in the works right now with different producers, that I’m super excited to say will be coming within the next few months. I’d also like to further spotlight the Gussapolooza music festival taking place this September 16th-18th. I will be performing on Saturday, September 17th at 12-12:45 on the acoustic stage, along with many other amazing artists over the course of the weekend! Last but not least, my most recent single “So Few Words (love letter)” is available to stream everywhere now.