Words: Charlie Dowd
Elissa Franceschi is gearing up to release her fifth independent release Chemicals next month, so we thought we’d reach out to her to discuss the new record, what’s happened in the last year and where she wants to go next. If her last release Devoid of Rue is anything to go by, Chemicals should be a compelling, and heartbreaking listen.
The IMC: Firstly, could you tell us what you’ve been up to since we spoke last year?
EF: I’ve dialed things down. I’ve traveled. I went on tour around the UK. I have been focusing on writing [for me and for others] I’ve made some lifestyle changes and I taught myself the guitar. I also did a few secret solo shows with it which was very liberating.
The aim is always to evolve. Mainly I hope that I can create a body of work that sounds progressive in style!
The IMC: Devoid of Rue was a huge step up from your previous release Into The Light, were you seeking to top the EP or is that not something you think about when heading back into the studio?
The IMC: Could you possibly tell us who you worked with on the album? Producers, songwriters etc…
EF: Yes! The album has been produced by Martin Searle who is a House D.J named ‘Unorthodox’. He’s spent the summer in Ibiza and Marbella supporting Clean Bandit and Example – he is a phenomenal talent and is the beat brains on this record. I also worked very closely with Jonathan Vears, a ridiculous multi-instrumentalist who has played on some of the most anthemic songs of my generation. Songs like ‘Love the Way You Lie’ by Eminem and ‘Airplanes’ with Hayley Williams and B.O.B. I can’t really say enough about what working with Jon and Martin has been like – they are consummate pros and they were very hard on me, particularly my vocals. I’m glad they were. I have a feature artist on a track called ‘Strangers to Lovers to Ghosts’ a young rapper named Sami Switch. He is just insane. He showed up to the session with the worst hangover, listened to his bars then came over to me half an hour later and totally nailed it – the subtleties of what the song is about [Kintsugi, look it up!] and the energy. I’m still bewildered that any of them were willing to work with me, it was a pleasure.
I was interested to pick apart several different states of emotion with different people, different moments of time and see how the chemicals took hold or how I managed to take control back.
The IMC: With songwriting, is there ever a moment on particularly personal songs that you wonder if you can put something out into the world?
EF: Absolutely. I really struggled with that on two songs in particular. But you know, when I was 15 and trying to make sense of depression or displacement or unrequited feelings I was not embarrassed, everything went into the song. So why change that process now. I’m an adult and if anything I have a more clarified view on things and can articulate them better, plus I have always maintained that to be authentic as a writer we have to tell the whole raw truth. I have no issue with being raw about myself. I can’t tell you how healing it was to write ‘Courage’. But of course when I write about someone else so directly, my hope is that they see past the exposure and hear the message, which 9 times out of 10 is one of love.
The IMC: If you can pick one, which is your favorite track off the new album? And why?
EF: I’d have to say ‘O Brother’. I wrote it in 15 minutes one night and thought it was the best thing I’d ever done but it was an absolute nightmare to record, literally a catastrophe and made me doubt everything. It sits on such an awkward groove and the strings had to be arranged in such a way that didn’t interfere with the vocal melody – I have to credit Jon with that. We broke through when I did the middle 8 ‘nobody noticing’ part… it was improvised and Martin was so primed to do 100 takes I’m sure, but something came over me and each time I sung the ‘nobody noticing’ line I went higher and higher in my register & thought I was going to burst a lung! When we finished Martin was like ‘I’m so glad you got that in one take because you are NEVER gonna sing like that all in one breath again in your life!!’. He’s right it’s impossible to sing that but who cares, we have it forever now.
EF: 2015 is completely unknown territory for me right now. I won’t be living in the UK, that much I do know. All I can do is try and get the right songs into the right hands. The industry is in such a mess right now, so I’m just glad to be free of the urge to obtain a ‘deal’. That is no longer the primary goal. If I can still get the attention of world class producers and players and have songs selling in Hong Kong and New Zealand this time next year- then I’m happy as a pig in shit.