INTERVIEW: Brooklyn ‘Fonk’ artist FRANCIS AUD

Hi Francis, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey! I’m doing as well as one can be doing during what sometimes feels like the “end of the world.” Been spending lots of time meditating, trying to get better at solving the Rubik’s cube, duct-taping my broken tripod together on a weekly basis so I can give virtual lessons from my bedroom, and ya know, releasing some new music! Also, question for you guys: when someone does an interview for “VENTS,” is it called “VENTing?!”

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Take Me Home”?

“Take Me Home” is probably one of my favorite songs of mine. I do this thing in my music where most of the time my lyrical content is of a very distinct “sad boi” flavor” BUT, I make sure to pair it with a funky groove and poppy melody so I can get people to listen to my feelings. “Take Me Home” definitely has some of the moodier lyrics and also one of the cooler bass lines I’ve written so it’s a treat for me to have them both work in the same song.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Oh boy…that question definitely elicited some “BIG OOF ENERGY.” Before writing the song, I was in a relationship that was extremely unpredictable and pretty unhealthy. One day things were great, the next day we were plunged into uncertainty, and so on. That trend repeated itself throughout the entirety of our time together. We dated all through the winter and things finally fell apart right at the end of May, which led me to spending the following summer licking my wounds and struggling with coming to terms with the end of that relationship. I make a pretty heavy nod to that in the first two lines of the song when I sing: “Do you ever wonder, if we made it through the summer? If we loved each other like we said we would?”

What made you want to tackle the theme of relationships?

Aside from the fact that I was working through the ending of that pretty unhealthy rollercoaster-y relationship, I’ve also noticed that to me, songwriting acts as a form of “self-therapy.” When you’re sitting with your thoughts and are working to making sense of what caused your relationships to fail, you have to break things down into the simplest questions and answers possible to help you understand exactly where things went wrong and what you can learn from. COINCIDENTALLY, these simple questions and answers also make for writing really good pop lyrics. Also, I tend to feel less embarrassed when it comes to singing about my sad feelings when I’m also playing pretty chords underneath them, haha.

Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?

Yes! I’ve been working with a super talented animator (named Sarah Louisa Burns) to create a super spacey and colorful lyric video. I’m super proud of it and excited to share it with everyone. We’re just making a few small edits presently and it’s slated for release on 8/25/20.

How was the recording and writing process?

The record and writing process was probably one of the quickest and easiest I’ve had a pleasure of being a part of. I had been wanting to work with my friend and producer Stavros Tsourhas for a long time and last winter we finally set a date. Whenever I’ve got my first session with a producer, I always want to show them cool stuff and impress them with fun ideas. Instead, Stavros straight up asked me, “How you feeling, bro?” and after exchanging ideas we busted out the song in around 4 hours. At that point, “Take Me Home” was unlike anything I had written before it because it was so moody and even on the edge of dark/melodramatic, so I didn’t know what to do with it. I sat with it for a bit until I brought it to my other dear friend and super talented producer Zach Golden this past April. He helped me take the sound to the next level and explore some more of the nostalgic and retro 80’s territory I wanted to explore for the arrangement. All in all, one of the smoothest experiences I’ve had.

What role does Brooklyn play in your music?

Good question! I wouldn’t say Brooklyn plays a direct role in my music when it comes to imagery or lyrics or anything like that but definitely the fact that it’s such an artistic hub and attractor of great talent has impacted how I approach my music. Many of my fellow musician friends who call Brooklyn home span across all genres: blues, jazz, pop, funk, neo-soul, folk, punk, etc. Because I’m able to witness so many musicians I admire performing across various styles, I try my best to pay attention to the styles of music that excite me and build on those. From there I try to incorporate them into my music. So I’ve gotta give Brooklyn major props for adding so much variety to my musical palette and life!

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Indeed! I normally record with a live band – guitar, bass, keys, horn section, you name it – but because of the pandemic and the limitations its placed on large gatherings and finances, I’ve switched my focus towards exploring and incorporating more digital/electronic instruments in my songwriting and arranging as well as remote recording. As some venues re-open they’re limiting the number of performers allowed on their stages and though at first, I saw that as a hindrance to my writing and arranging it’s actually freed me up in other ways!

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

Yep! Having been stuck in the trenches of my bedroom in NYC for the past five months, I’ve spent lots of time: practicing production, studying tutorials, and sending mixes of new songs to friends and I recently finished producing my very first song titled “Codeine Kiss.” That being said, I’m no prodigy and will definitely be taking it to my friend and collaborator Zach Golden to help me rein it in do vocals but I’m super excited to share it and I’m aiming for an October 2020 release!

Any plans to hit the road or do virtual concerts?

Funny you ask! I tried live-streaming towards the beginning of quarantine and for lack of a better term I…hated it, haha. It felt pretty unnatural and was demoralizing not to enjoy performing as much as I used to, but my excitement has returned now that a few venues in NYC working to re-open. They’re looking to sell tickets to virtual concerts where they’ll be streaming a high-quality feed of the live show to ticket buyers. I’m pumped to try that model especially with the colder winter months coming up and people no doubt looking for something to do as they may be forced to coop up in their apartments for longer.

I’ve also definitely been playing with the idea of booking and organizing small house shows where occupancy can be limited BUT I also know that some people have bigger things on their plates to worry about so I’m taking that one day at a time.

What else is happening next in Francis Aud’s world?

Musically speaking, right now I’m just focusing on honing my craft, writing better songs, and re-visiting old material when I can to see where I can improve. I also have a folk-indie side project where I release music under the name “stella.” so after this release I’m gonna be spending some time working on music for that.

Also, in light of recent events, I’ve been working to find ways in which I can pursue my music career while also contribute to causes I care about. For this release I’ve incorporated a charitable aspect into sharing the song (I donate $1 to a specific charity every time the song is shared) and am looking forward to doing more of this kind of “sustainable cross promotion” in the future.

In terms of life, I’m working on a small book of poetry, growing out my hair so that it’s finally long enough to pull into a man bun, and have been biking a lot. So ya know, just trying to stay busy to avoid the crushing existential dread that consumes me at all times hahahaha gotta love it okay bye for now okay love you guys

LISTEN HERE

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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